Milliseconds are Money: How Much Performance Matters in the Cloud

In the cloud … faster is better! But how much faster equals how much better?  If your site loads even one second faster, will your audience grow?  Will you have more sales?  If so, by how much?  Would you believe it takes only half a second to lose 1/5th of your visitors?

While there are too many variables to predict outcomes on a case-by-case basis, let’s take a look at what we know statistically! compiled the following information on performance in the cloud in their excellent blog article titled the “Effect of Website Speed on Users: Statistics Reveal Slow Loading Times Cost Sites Serious Money”:

1)      Really Slow Websites Are a Disaster …

Any page load longer than two seconds is a disaster.  A study released by Akamai in September 2009 concluded:

  • 47% expect a web page to load in two seconds or less
  • 40% will abandon a web page if it takes more than three seconds to load
  • 52% of online shoppers claim that quick page loads are important for their loyalty to a site
  • 14% will start shopping at a different site if page loads are slow, 23% will stop shopping or even walk away from their computer
  • 64% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with their site visit will go somewhere else to shop next time

2)      Google Cares about Speed …

For cloud giant, Google, site speed is key to their search ranking algorithm:

  • A study by LightSpeedNow showed that by making a website faster Google sent 15% more traffic, and Bing and Yahoo also sent more traffic.
  • Some webmasters saw website traffic drop significantly when Google introduced site-speed into its algorithm. One even saw an 80% drop!

3)      People Run from Brands with Slow Sites …

The Gomez Peak Time Internet Usage Study conducted by Equation Research on 1500 consumers (February 2010) confirms the negative impact of poor performance on the cloud:

  • At peak traffic times more than 75% of online consumers left for a competitor’s site rather than suffer delays
  • 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience
  • Almost half expressed a less positive perception of the company overall after a single bad experience
  • More than a third told others about their disappointing experience

4)      People Stick Around on a Fast Site…

A case study from Aptimize showed that when they made the website Geekzone faster the following results were achieved:

  • 35.10% increase in average time on site
  • 13.63% increase in number of pages per visit
  • 3.7 percent reduction in bounce rate

5)      The Proof That Milliseconds Matter …

The big guys in the cloud industry have really dug deep and proved that those milliseconds matter:

  • For every 100ms increase in load time of sales decreased by 1% (Kohavi and Longbotham 2007)
  • Google discovered that a change from loading a 10-result page in 0.4 seconds to a 30-result page loading in 0.9 seconds decreased traffic and ad revenues by 20% (Linden 2006)
  • Google Search found that a 400 millisecond delay resulted in a -0.59% change in searches per user. What’s more, even after the delay was removed, these users still had -0.21% fewer searches, indicating that a slower user experience affects long term behavior
  • Another study by Google found that an extra 500ms in loading time resulted in 20% drop in traffic
  • Yahoo also found that a 400ms slower page would see 5-9% more people leave before the page finished loading

It’s true then that fractions of a second do matter in the cloud.  There is hard evidence that even small improvements in site performance can lead to higher search rankings, more and longer visits, improved brand loyalty, and more sales.  We also know that the marginal return on improving performance increases dramatically as page load times approach the two (2) second threshold – the point where most visitors will give up and search for something better.

Over time, this threshold will drop further.  When some of these surveys were done five years earlier the critical threshold was four seconds.  As cloud access speeds continue to climb and more browsing options exist, the tolerance for poorly performing web sites and applications will continue to fall and the monetary benefits of a high performance cloud hosting solution like Carbon60’s global edge, multi-origin cloud computing platform will continue to rise.

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