It only takes a minute girl
To fall in love, to fall in love
~Tavares, It only takes a minute
In the old Tavares song you had a whole minute to fall in love. In the world of web pages, the New York Times reports that you might not have the long. How about as long as takes to blink?
Harry Schum, a computer scientist and speed specialist at Microsoft, quoted in the article gives the bad news. “Two hundred fifty milliseconds, either slower or faster, is close to the magic number now for competitive advantage on the Web,” Shum told the Times.
That means every delay no matter how minute could be enough to make a visitor flip the switch and try something else. Your job just got harder than you ever believed.
IT pros charged with making sure the company web site is up and running optimally have a huge challenge on their hands if this is the benchmark against which you are suddenly about to be measured.
Yet for all that research, I would suggest we’re probably a bit more patient than the researchers proclaim. How often do we wait for a video to buffer or for a page we really want to see to load? The fact is if your site has the content people really want to see, most folks realize the delay is because of the popularity and will stick around for a reasonable amount of time to make it happen (but don’t count on that).
Heck, some of us put with pre-roll ads if we really want to see the video. There are exceptions to everything. But our patience and attentions spans are clearly limited and as the people charged with making sure everything loads as quickly as possible, you have to constantly keep that on top of mind.
But the fact is that we feel the need for speed and it’s not always in your control when things slow down. It could be a problem with overall web traffic or it could be an individual’s configuration, the browser they’re using or an issue with a visitor’s ISP. There are just so many factors in the speed equation that are out of your control.
When you factor in a person may be using a wonky WiFi connection or a cell phone network to access the web, the delays are even more likely and ever longer.
All that being said, you need to monitor the factors that are in your control and make sure your web site is loading as quickly as your technology allows — because you won’t even have that minute it takes to fall in love. You have have about a quarter of a second. Wow.