Website Performance And User Bounce Rate

published on: January 1st 2020

Website performance is a crucial measure of a website's effectiveness. It is a major factor in SEO, conversion rates, user experience, brand & reputation, and bounce rate. We have articles written on the first of those topics in other blogs. Here we want to discuss what we see as the most important...the user experience in terms of bounce rate and user satisfaction.

Have you ever decided to go somewhere or do something on a whim, got ready, traveled there, only to find the wait time was too much to bear and you decide to go elsewhere? Sure, we've all done that. That same behavior is well documented in our interactions with websites. You do a search, something looks promising, you click on it, and you are met with a white screen as the page presumably loads. A few seconds pass, and then a few more. What is your typical reaction? We know the answer. You hit the back button and select the next most promising search result. That is a measurable reaction called bounce rate. It is primarily tied to one factor. Website load speed.

Study after study have found that the bounce rate increases exponentially after the first full second. There is not a measurable bounce rate in the first second. It appears that people expect a bit of a wait. Hitting 2 seconds and beyond is where it gets really interesting and scary for businesses with poor performing websites. At 2 seconds the rate is 9.6%. That is astounding. Nearly 1 in 10 find that extra second to be too much of a price to pay for the honor of viewing your business' website. At 3 seconds say goodbye to 13 in a hundred, at 4 seconds 17 in a hundred, at 5 seconds one in five have fled the scene, by 6 seconds nearly a third are ghosts, by 7... Getting the trend? Well, they are probably just impatient people that were not primed to buy anyway, right? Wrong.

The people most likely to bounce the quickest are young and tech savvy users that purchase online products and services regularly. They have great data plans and high-end devices. Those that stay the longest are usually older, less likely to regularly purchase online, and are usually on lower end devices (which begs the question: are they just accustomed to waiting because their tech is garbage? Yes.).

The lost revenue potentials are monstrous. You get that. You wouldn't be in business otherwise. But we will beat that drum anyway. The initial bounce is bad enough, but there is something that we find even more alarming. For those that stick around, the average number of pages they view is a direct correlation to performance. A viewer with a 2 second load time will view 5.6 more pages than a user at 8 seconds. That is ridiculous. That is akin to someone looking at your menu and deciding you only serve breakfast, because they only viewed a third of it and never got to the lunch & dinner sections.

This is why deciding what type of website your business needs is key. Can you deliver static content and be super sonic fast? If so where and how much? Ask yourself why you are in WordPress, Wix or SquareSpace (see our services page for our take on Webflow ) using paid slow hosting if you are mostly static content. How we structure a website is vital. The modern websites being built with Gatsby, React Static, Gridsome, and Svelte's Sapper are so fast that WordPress sites are exposed and demonstrated to be slow lumbering bounce pits. This is only going to get worse. Be very careful before throwing money into a technology that is already showing its age. Use JAMstack whenever possible. Go hybrid if needed. But make sure you get load-times down under 3 seconds...or why have a website at all?