Impatience, treatable in the real world, finds little cure online
To be fast or not to be fast, that is the question.
Fast requires investment in time and resources. The traditional web host may bring promises of website speed by mentioning buzzwords like ‘CloudFlare’. Of course, they help, but not as much as their advocates suggest. To be fast requires commitment. But why does it matter?
Fast is a commitment to your users. It’s about providing them with the Product, Service or Information (PSI) they are looking for in the minimal possible time. The only reason they are on your website is for their desired PSI.
From The Beginning
If the entry point to your website is from a Google Search, then Fast matters. Google judges your website by speed. Although speed is only one of 200 items that feature as inputs to their ranking algorithm, you shouldn’t estimate its importance given how poor the user experience of slow websites is. To remain the dominant search engine, Google needs to return websites that help the user find their desired PSI. This is why Fast matters.
Books By Their Cover
We shouldn’t judge by first impressions – but we do, and harshly too. We take the initial milliseconds as a reference for how we will perceive the rest of the website experience. Optimising the initial website page load view is vital in creating a great first impression.
This optimisation is achieved by having a competent web developer and web host ensuring your website is structured correctly, so that the servers can serve the assets efficiently.
When a home page is loaded, there is generally a decision to make. If the users PSI is not something as readily available as the phone number at the top of the page then additional navigation is required. This decision point may be an opportunity for a user to abandon your website.
Should I Stay or Should I Go
A decision needs to be made. The user may continue to your site or click ‘back’ to Google. If your site has been fast to load yet well presented with useful navigation, they may try another page on your site. However, if your website is painfully slow they may as well start again at Google. The logic is pretty simple: What they are looking for may not be on the next page, it may require visiting other pages. The user has no way of knowing if you will be subjecting them to just one more slow page or many more. It’s much safer to go back to Google and start again with a faster website. This is Why Fast matters.
Perceived Quality of Your Business
We humans have a tendency to stereotype. We judge something by our experience of others of the same type. Another form of stereotyping is within a single example of a type: We judge the whole by one of its parts. We take a small part as a proxy for the whole. The beginning as an indication of the end.
An example of this in the car industry is ‘perceived quality’. Consumers judge the quality, reliability and durability of a vehicle by the size and consistency of the gaps between its body panels. In fact, the panel gaps on a vehicle have near little impact on any important quality measure, excepting minor aerodynamic effects. Yet it has become car industry parlance to expect consumers to judge quality by panel gaps. Let’s consider how this emerged.
Virtual Panel Gaps
Well, achieving consistent panel gaps requires commitment. Tooling to produce the panels must be to a repeatable high standard. Also, the panels are held in jigs must be aligned correctly each time. Furthermore, the robots performing the spot welding must be perfectly configured. The hard work involved in delivering cars with tight panel gaps speaks to the consumer as a proxy for how the engine, gearbox and electronics are also built. If you can master panel gaps surely you have mastered the other stuff too. Also, panel gaps are something a consumer can observe and reason about – they can’t exactly inspect the crankshaft in the showroom. Website speed is also something they can observe.
Your website speed is a proxy for the perceived quality of your business. A fast website equates prompt service, up to date information and quality products. The user reasons that if the website owner cared about my experience enough to make a fast website, they will probably care about the delivery of the product, service or information I am seeking. This is why Fast matters.