Latency of Page Load = Big Trouble

How revealing – almost an inside story! I just read a Mozilla blog post that talked about how it has tweaked its top landing pages to improve customer service and market itself better.

Firefox, Mozilla’s browser, was downloaded by over 8 million people when it debuted version #3 in June 2008. Those were banner numbers for it then. But the company admits that its landing pages where its download button resides is brutally slow.  In the blog, Mozilla says its download button for version 4.0 doesn’t even appear for seven seconds. Slow load time is affecting about one-quarter of visitors.

That’s not good, because during those seven seconds, potential customers can turn elsewhere, for example, to competitor Internet Explorer. And Mozilla recognizes this. Slow page load times result in lost sales – and in Mozilla’s case, for its advertisers.  Research has shown that an 8 second load time (4 seconds above the optimal load time of 4 seconds) can result in a visitor loss of up to 75.75%.

Without getting too technical, the ISP has added speed – and has seen remarkable results. Before the fix, they predicted a one second reduction in page load speed would improve download conversions by 2.7%.  But what actually happened? It shaved 2.2 seconds off the average page load time and increased download conversions by 15.4%.

What does that 15% translate to? Mozilla has 275,000 daily visitors, and so a 15% improvement on that single English-language page enables 10.28 million additional downloads per year. And if it can replicate similar improvements across its other top landing pages, Mozilla expects to drive more than 60 million Firefox downloads each year, according to its blog.

“We’re excited by our initial results, but are only just getting started,” Mozilla says, adding that it has more optimizations planned – including testing a landing page that loads the download button before anything else.

While I was entertained reading this, and, quite frankly, a bit surprised at Mozilla’s frankness (although those aren’t bad download stats, proving just how popular the browser is), it also struck me that there must be countless businesses out there who, unlike Mozilla, don’t know that their online apps are too slow. And if they don’t have that information, they can’t fix it.

Latency of page load is a real problem these days, but the good news is that there are ways to find out what’s working and what isn’t. And then you can take action. For instance, Monitis offers a monitoring service that tests the speed of full page loads.

By tracking the page load times of each individual image, CSS, JavaScripts, RSS, Flash and frames/iframes, the tool shows stats on the total number of objects, the size of each object, and load time for your web page. We offer an easy-to-view format (in multi-color bar graphs) and can be shown in load order or in a hierarchy.

We’ve helped many companies, educational organizations and other enterprises figure out why their apps are taking so long, and they’ve been able to take steps to speed things up. Adding speed – that’s something everybody loves, especially users.