What Users Value in the Website Experience (Hint: Performance)

July 29, 2014

This article is included in these additional categories:

Customer Service & Experience | Data-driven | Digital | Mobile Phone | Personalization | Tablet

LimelightNetworks-Important-Factors-Website-Experience-July2014When it comes to a great website experience, internet users consider performance more important than fresh content, consistent experiences across mobile and desktop, and personalized content, finds Limelight Networks in a study entitled “The State of the User Experience” [pdf]. Delving further into attitudes regarding website performance, the study unearths some intriguing attitudes: for example, roughly 1 in 5 respondents aren’t willing to wait longer than 3 seconds for a website to load before getting frustrated and leaving. Given that about 4 in 10 respondents would be willing to wait 3-5 seconds, the results suggest that about 6 in 10 overall are willing to wait up to 5 seconds, but no longer.

However, users appear to be more patient with the mobile web experience: while 41% of respondents expect equally fast page loads on mobile and desktop, a plurality 44% are in fact willing to wait longer for a page to load on a mobile device than on a laptop or desktop. That’s an important result, since a significant proportion of respondents report often accessing websites via smartphones – including roughly one-third who say they do so “most of the time.”

Nevertheless, the importance of website performance is brought to light when considering the inclination to abandon a website in favor of a competitor’s. Some 37% agreed that when they shop online, they leave a page and buy the product from a competitor if they have to wait too long for the page to load – not good news given slowing website load speeds among the Alexa 500. Meanwhile, an equal 37% of respondents said they would not leave a slow-loading e-commerce page; the remainder were unsure.

A solid website load speed can not only help mitigate defections, it can also have positive effects: more than 8 in 10 respondents said they would be likely to recommend a brand to a friend if they had a positive experience with its website.

Separately, the survey finds that users aren’t enamored by personalization of the web experience: asked whether they want a website to remember that they’ve come there before and make recommendations based on their previous visits, 37% of respondents answered in the negative, versus 27% answering yes. A sizable 27% said they don’t care.

While website personalization is an area of growing importance to marketers, recent survey results suggest that few marketers are personalizing their website pages for individual visitors.

About the Data: The survey report is based on responses that Limelight Networks received from 1,115 consumers ranging in demographics, gender, and education. Roughly 37% of respondents are aged 18-34; 48% are aged 35-54; and 15% are aged 55+. Some 53% are female. About 63% report spending 5-10 hours per week online outside of work; 23% spend at least 15 hours per week online outside of work.

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