It appears that mere seconds really do matter to mobile users, according to recently-released research from Google, which tested more than 900,000 mobile websites. The longer a page takes to load, the higher the likelihood that the user will leave the page, with the probability of bounce more than doubling when page load time increases from 1 to 6 seconds.
Which categories have the slowest page loads? Interestingly, technology has the dubious distinction of leading the pack, averaging 11.3 seconds to display page content to users. That’s almost 4 times longer than the best practice time of 3 seconds or less.
Travel sneaks in right behind at 10.1 seconds, followed closely by retail at 9.8 seconds; research has suggested that retail sites are taking longer and longer to load. The vertical with the quickest tested speed, coming in with the lowest time of 7.9 seconds, was classified and local, which still has a way to go to catch up to the best practices ideal.
Various factors account for slow-loading mobile pages that test mobile users’ patience, including mobile ads; the extent to which ads contribute to longer load times appears to be a significant factor in the proliferation of ad blocking usage.
While an abundance of content may serve companies well on desktop sites, it doesn’t appear to translate in the mobile world, where speed is more vital. Mobile pages should, according to Google, have fewer than 50 pieces of content needed to display the entire page. The industry that has the highest average request count is, notably, technology, with a whopping 140, followed by retail with 129 and automotive with 119. It appears that this is a factor in the slower page load speeds for the tech and retail verticals.
Meanwhile, even those on the lower end of the spectrum – classified and local sites (78), businesses and industrial markets (83) and finance (84) – still far exceed the best practices recommendation.
Measured another way, by the total size of a web page measured in bytes, the findings are consistent, as technology (2.3MB), automotive (2.1MB) and retail (2.1MB) come in with the highest average page weight in bytes. The finance industry, with its relatively small average page size of 1.3MB, still falls notably short of the 500KB or less ideal.
While the speed and responsiveness of the web server can also also play a role, the data reveals that the servers might not have as much to do with mobile’s overall sluggish load times. The industries with the slowest web servers include business and industrial markets (2.7 seconds on average to first byte) and finance (2.4 seconds), which weren’t too far from the optimal 1.3 best practices. Media and entertainment enjoyed the fastest speed, clocking in at 1.8 seconds, with retail next at 1.9 seconds.
About the Data: Google Research sampled more than 900,000 mobile websites across Fortune 1000 and small medium businesses. Testing was performed on Chrome and emulating a Nexus 5 device on a globally representative 3G connection.