Take the Load Off Slow Page Loads

In last week’s site performance webinar we learned that almost half of visitors will abandon a site if they perceive a page or feature takes longer than 2 seconds to load.

The key is “perceived” page load.

Is there a way to entertain customers while a page or object loads? How about give them something to read?

Like the musack you hear while on hold with your bank or cable company, a bit of text can distract a customer and make the wait seem less, well, long. Here’s what I spotted online retailers doing…

Tell customers what you’re loading

Diapers.com tells customers an interactive display is loading. “Interactive display” sounds intriguing…perhaps intriguing enough to motivate some to be a bit more patient.

Similarly, Anthropologie explains it’s loading a global checkout. While one might wonder why that should take longer than 2 seconds, at least there’s a promise of something happening rather than a blank page.

Count down your objects

Only the geeky will understand what objects are, but Dell.ca satisfies the “are we there yet?” question as it counts down the objects, 3-2-1.

Make a promise

Pop-ups that show enlarged images and multiple views are used by many top online retailers, but they can take their sweet time to load. DSW promises the load lag is “well worth the wait.”

Make them laugh

“Nothing’s worse than waiting for a page to load. Except getting cheated on, of course” says Moosejaw Mountaineering.

With the exception of DSW and Moosejaw, I don’t think the above retailers’ intentions were to entertain, persuade, inform or simply distract visitors while the page loads. But there is opportunity to use value propositions, pieces of “free knowledge” or humorous content in your loading pages/features to reduce the “perceived” page load time. This idea can be explored with user testing.

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4 Responses to “Take the Load Off Slow Page Loads”

  1. You can also defer loading of large JavaScript files that aren’t required straight away, such as onclick functions or AJAX objects.

    Once the page loads, they can be loaded behind the scenes.

  2. Great ideas! Of all the examples above I like the Moosejaw the best. I think I’d be inclined to click on more things, download stuff or go that extra step just to see what else they come up with :)

  3. Matt S says:

    I like the dude on http://www.skoosh.com that strolls up and down while the site searches for hotel deals with his magnifying glass. I like to think that its a visual representation of someone in their office actually finding me a deal!

  4. The best book for this issue is ‘High Performance Sites’ from O’Reilly.

    They also just came out with a newer book, I am going to start looking at this week, ‘Even Faster Web Sites’.

    Between the first book and Firebug plug in for Firefox, most people will be set.

    I have not read the second book I mentioned, so I can not recommend it yet.

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