How long will customers wait for your site to load? We put top sites to the test

Paul Dughi
May 16, 2016 · 3 min read
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Shoppers aren’t just checking you out on-line at home. Sometimes they are doing it right there in the store with you.

We all know that the faster your site loads, the better it is. With the huge shift of traffic to mobile, it’s even more important that your site is both mobile-friendly and fast loading.

How long will consumers wait for a page to load while shopping for your products? Turns out, not very long. In a study of 4,500+ consumers, Imperva Incapsula reported that 7% say the page must load immediately or they’re gone. 20% say less than 3 seconds load time is acceptable. 35% said they’d wait between 3 and 5 seconds.

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It’s safe to say that if your site takes more than 5 seconds to load, half the visitors don’t wait around.

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SOURCE: Akamai

So we put websites to the test.

First, we took the Top 50 e-retailers and whittled the list down to 28 companies that are US-based and ran them through their paces. As a word of explanation, we used a verified 30 Mbps internet connection. That’s more than double the average US internet connection speed according to Akamai.

We used several online tools and ping testers, and then did it the old fashioned way by just typing in the URL and hitting return. Each site was tested a total of 6 times on different platforms and we used an average load time. To be fair, the tests were done on a random day at a random time and not meant to be a scientific measure by any stretch. But they do represent a ballpark load time for an average consumer. The 7% who said a site must load instantly? Too bad. None of the sites tested did.

If there’s good news, it’s that 82% of the site tested loaded in under 5 seconds.

So what happens if the site load time exceeds visitors’ willingness to wait? 44% will try to reload the page once (I do that all the time). 35% will leave and may return later. 13% never return to the site again.

Keep in mind all of the websites tests are national brands with big bucks behind them. They’re the top producers in the world so I would expect them to have the best results. When I tested local and regional websites, the results were much worse. MUCH worse. But that’s a story for another day.

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If you want to test the load times on your site, you can type in the URL and hit your stopwatch. You can also try one of these tools:

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