5-Second Rule: Mobile Users Want Faster-Loading Sites
by Leslie Meredith, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
August 08 2012 04:53 PM ET
CREDIT: Shutterstock: auremar
When does five seconds feel like an eternity? When you're lost, late and waiting for a company page to load on your phone.
A new study reveals that people are growing increasingly frustrated with mobile devices that just aren't fast enough despite faster processors and faster data networks. Keynote Competitive Research, a consulting firm that improves website performance, surveyed 5,388 U.S. adults about their experiences and expectations while using mobile devices.
The survey identified the most common trouble spots for smartphone and tablet users. Slow-loading pages were the top complaint by a wide margin. Two-thirds of respondents listed "Web pages slow to use," followed by 48 percent who said they encountered pages that wouldn't load and sites that weren't adapted to display properly on their mobile phones . Other complaints included sites that were hard to navigate and difficult to read.
Twelve percent said they had never experienced any of these problems — perhaps they simply don't connect to the Web at all.
What's the breaking point? According to the survey, 80 percent said that five seconds is about the limit when they're waiting for a page to load on their phones, but they'll allow only four seconds for tablets.
There's not much you can do about loading speeds — they mostly depend on the way a website is built and your data connection, which varies by carrier and the load on the system at any particular time. But you can expect faster speeds with 4G service compared to 3G, at least most of the time. In the survey, 27 percent of smartphone owners use 4G, and 57 percent have a 3G connection. The rest use Wi-Fi or said they didn't know what type of service they had. More than three-fourths of tablet owners use Wi-Fi.
What do people do when pages take longer to load than they expect? The most frequent response (44 percent) is to refresh the page, 21 percent will try again later, 12 percent are patient enough to wait for the page to load, a handful will try another site and 16 percent simply give up and close the browser.