In October, we decided to upgrade our servers for, one of our MindValley web properties.

The upgrade was simple – just the addition of a new server at a cost of a $450 a month. The impact of that new server caused our site to load a few milliseconds faster.

Milliseconds – no big deal right? We expected it would please some of our more hardcore users.

What we found was that this simple speed improvement caused our overall revenues to jump 25%. We were thrilled – albeit a little surprised. The impact on revenue was much, much more than expected.

We now pay a lot more attention to speed and invest a lot of time in optimizing our site to boost it’s performance.

So how does this apply to your site?

Last week Akamai and Jupiter Research released a study that says:

Four seconds is the maximum length of time an average online shopper will wait for a Web page to load before potentially abandoning a retail site. This is one of several key findings revealed in a report made available today by Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: AKAM), commissioned through JupiterResearch, that examines consumer reaction to a poor online shopping experience.

This is may seem obvious to you – but what’s not so obvious is that the study also found that load speed was significantly more important that many site owner’s realize

The report ranked poor site performance as second only to high product prices and shipping costs as leading factors for dissatisfaction among online shoppers.

More details on the study available here >>

Google’s Marisa Meyers also had something to share about speed at the recent Web 2.0 conference.

According to Meyers – after polling Google users, she heard a lot of requests for Google to expand it’s search result listing on it’s main page. From the current 10 to 20 or 30.

So Google tried doing this for a select group of users. What they found is that expanding the search caused Google’s ad revenue from that page to plummet by 20%.

The reasoning was that the expanded search results caused the page to load significantly lower. A page with 10 results took .4 seconds to load. A page with 30 took .9 seconds.

This turned off users – even though in polls, the users had requested more search results on the page.

A half a second delay caused revenues to drop significantly.

(Greg Linden talks more about Marisa Meyer’s speech on his blog)

So the lesson is – pay attention to speed.

When you add things to your site like Urchin tracking codes, affiliate tracker links, javascripts, copy rotation scripts – test your page to make sure your server can handle the load and render the page in 4 seconds of less.


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