Website Speed Check: Give Your Site a Website Load Test

Most users are now broadband users, and they expect your site to load in 4 seconds or less!

Earlier this week at the Mequoda Summit, we promised to write a tip about website load time, and what the current best practice response times are for users on all types of different connections. So here it is!

If your target audience is B2B, you can expect that a large percentage of them will be using broadband in their work space. On the other hand, B2C publishers still need to pay attention to the small majority of home users who are still using a dial-up 28.8k modem.

According to our website speed check research, these are the load times that your website should load within, for the most user satisfaction:

  • Broadband load time: 4 seconds (10 seconds max)
  • 56k load time: 12 seconds or less (30 seconds max)
  • 28.8k load time: 25 seconds or less (45 seconds max)

According to a recent report by WebsiteOptimization.com, US broadband penetration grew to 91.54% in August 2008. Dial-up users connecting at 56Kbps or less now make up 8.46% of active Internet users, down 0.78 percentage points from 9.24% in July 2008. As far as B2B goes, the report says that as of August 2008, 96.81% of US workers connect to the Internet with broadband.

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To make sure you can keep up with these standards, experts recommend keeping your HTML code under 40–60 KB (which will load in less than 8 to 12 seconds), and page graphics under 40–60 KB (another 8 to 12 seconds of progressive load) for dial-up users. This equates to an absolute limit for dial-up of 120 KB.

The top 40 Keynote Businesses (also known as the KB40) include the top search engines, business services, financial services, high technology, communications, and publishing websites online. They’re given a website speed check on a regular basis by website optimization firms to analyze the average website performance standards. From 2006 to 2008, the average response time of the KB40  (on broadband) has dropped from 2.8 seconds to 2.32 seconds. Again though, this is an average of the sites. For example, Yahoo.com only takes 0.6 seconds to load while Fidelity.com takes 12.5 seconds.

Tools for giving your site a website speed check and load test:

Tools.Pingdom.com: This website load time analyzer tells you how long your website takes to load as well as how many internal and external objects are on the page. It will also tell you which elements (if any) are taking the longest to load. From our testing on the site, the things that usually come up as taking the longest to load are CSS stylesheets and web scripts.

WebsiteOptimization.com: This free web page analysis tool calculates page size, composition, and download time. It also gives speed recommendations based on best practices for usability, HCI, and website optimization.

YSlow: This website load test Firefox add-on, created by the Yahoo! Developer Network, will tell you why a certain website is loading slowly. If you are using it on your own website, it’s a great tool because it will give you very specific suggestions to decrease website load time. For example, on one site we tested, it said the site should “make fewer HTTP requests”. When you click on the recommendation, it told us that the site had 12 external JavaScript files, 6 external stylesheets and 8 external CSS background images.

People make snap decisions about the value and credibility of your site. According to the book Website Optimization by Andrew King, in as little as 1/20th of a second, users form a first impression of your site that does not change significantly over time. Confirming these results, website analyzers found that the ratings users gave a site after half a second were consistent with their rating after 10 seconds. In other words, you have to make a good impression, and you have to make it quickly.

For tips on how to reduce website load time, read our recent tip: 13 Tips for Fixing Slow Loading Web Pages.

Comments
    Tigran S.

    I think reason to use Ajax .Download and Show client low size page and start asynch reqest to bult full page.Google use this technics in its pages.

    Reply

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