Why Websites Are Slow & Why Speed Really Matters

Published by Mashable 6th April 2011

What a difference a millisecond can make. When it comes to browsing the web, every tiny moment counts — and the fewer moments that pass between a mouse click and a fully loaded page, the better.

Speed is a bit of an obsession for most web users. We fret over our Internet connections’ and mobile connections’ perceived slowness, and we go bananas for a faster web browser.

Given this better-faster mentality, the consequences for slow-loading pages can be dire for site owners; most users are willing to navigate away after waiting just three seconds, for example. And quite a few of these dissatisfied users will tell others about the experience.

What’s more, our entire perception of how fast or slow a page loads is a bit skewed. While we’re waiting for a site to materialize in a browser tab, pages seem to load about 15% slower than they actually do load. The perception gap increases to 35% once we’re away from a computer.

But for the precious milliseconds site owners can shave off page load times, they can see huge returns. For example, Amazon.com increased its revenue by 1% for every 100 milliseconds of load time improvement. And Aol said its users in the top 10% of site speed viewed around 50% more pages than visitors in the bottom 10%.

Site optimization firm Strangeloop has provided us with a slew of graphically organized stats on just how long pages take to load, why they take as long as they do, and just how long the average Joe or Jane is willing to wait around for your site.

Check out the infographic below.

And site owners, if you’re worried about speed, do a quick pulse-check with Google’s free and easy page speed tool, Page Speed Online.

Strangeloop's Site Speed Infographic

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Inside Aptimize’s Website Acceleration Products

From Web Host Industry Review….

Web content is growing at an enormous rate, making the fast delivery of that content more of a competitive differentiator for companies than just a core competency.

Website performance is a critical component for a business’ success, especially considering that Google recently announced that speed is now accounted as a major factor in its algorithms for search rankings.

Based on that incentive New Zealand-based startup Aptimize (www.aptimize.com) is offering companies a range of website acceleration products that can significantly improve the load time of their websites.

“The web is so much more competitive than it was 15 years ago, now that people make richer and richer websites,” says Ed Robinson, co-founder and CEO of Aptimize. “Now the problem is not broadband conductivity or scalability of the servers, but it’s about how to get these massive desktop websites from the servers to the browsers.”

The company recently began offering its flagship product WAX, and its new SharePoint Accelerator, which is designed to improve the performance of Microsoft SharePoint installations, in the US and across the globe.

The products can increase a website’s performance between 200 to 400 percent without making any code changes or installing additional hardware, says Robinson.

Currently, the company’s largest customer is Microsoft, which used its products to boost the speed of the Microsoft SharePoint website.

Aptimize says the software decreased the website’s domestic load times by 43 percent, bringing it down to just 5.9 seconds. Meanwhile, the website’s international load times were reduced by 54 percent – just 6.1 seconds.

Robinson says that about 50 percent of the company’s customers are websites built on Sharepoint, which eventually lead the company to begin offering a SharePoint-specific product.

“We’ve taken a very different approach. [Other solutions] put more servers in place, or more load balancing, or great fiber networking, or put in place content delivery network,” says Robinson. “Traditionally, when data centers need to speed up websites, they’ll throw more hardware at the problem. Our product installs on the web servers themselves and increases the efficiency of the websites.”

The products have two kinds of pricing. Small business pricing, which is calculated server by server, is priced at $3,000 per server.

Enterprise pricing, on the other hand, is calculated at an application level and is priced at $18,000 per application.

And while the company is not without its share of competition, with companies like Aragon Networks, FastWeb and StrangeLoops all providing similar products, Robinson says Aptimize is one of first in the industry to offer this kind of front-end optimization product.

Aptimize does not have products for websites that operate in the cloud, but Robinson says the company is in early talks with cloud firms to provide support for cloud-based startups.

“We see a huge opportunity for cloud computing,” says Robinson. “We’ve started talking to some hosts about being able to price for that market. We’re investing in creating a specialized data center version of our product that you can put inside a cloud computing or hosting provider, and just plug it in and it will accelerate every site passing through.”