In today’s omni-channel customer-centric landscape, a customer has options when it comes to interacting with a company or brand. They might see a brand’s ad on TV, check out the Twitter feed on a phone, or conduct a Google search for a specific product. Eventually, the goal is to get them to the website, make a purchase and become a loyal customer.
One of the keys to nurturing potential customers is providing a consistent brand experience across interactions – and this involves more than just providing engaging content and stellar customer service. Similar to a brick and mortar storefront, a business’s website has to represent a company well. An easy to navigate, well-designed homepage is a start, but it’s the backend of a website (site speed, reliability, security, responsiveness) that can leave a big impression on visitors.
We’ve all heard the statistics about the impact of page loading time – how the majority of visitors will leave your site if it does not load within a few seconds. But the poor performance of your website can have even greater – and potentially surprising – impacts on your business. Let’s take a look:
1. Search Rankings
Search engines favor a fast website. In 2010, Google made it clear to webmasters everywhere that website speed was essential when it announced it would now be one of about 200 ranking factors in its search algorithm. Since then, Google has encouraged developers to monitor and analyze site speed using a suite of Google tools – PageSpeed.
An increased emphasis could be coming down the pike as well – earlier in 2015, a user spotted a Google results page displaying with a red “Slow” label, flagging a page with a less than ideal site experience.
User experience aside, Google has gone so far as to say they won’t crawl your site as frequently or as many pages if load time is over two seconds, which over time could have a trickle-down effect on search rankings.
2. Conversions and Loyalty
A sluggish site may seem like a minor frustration, but in many cases it translates into a missed opportunity and real dollars lost. An Aberdeen study quantified the impact of a one-second delay in response times on key performance indicators and found a 16 percent reduction on customer satisfaction, 11 percent decrease in page views and a 7 percent lower conversion rate.
With mobile users skyrocketing globally, it’s essential for websites to have both high performance desktop and mobile sites/mobile apps. A July 2015 study found 67 percent of customers would be put off shopping with a retailer if they had a negative experience with its app. This highlights the necessity to provide a consistent and fast user experience across channels.
3. Perceptions of Security
A Ponemon Institute study recently found security is among the top 3 reasons to distrust an online experience. Three out of four consumers said they distrust an overly simple identity and authentication procedures.
Moreover, the study found a direct correlation between site speed and a customer’s perception of a secure transaction:
- 67 percent of consumers lose trust when pages load too slowly.
- 78 percent worry about security when site performance is sluggish.
- 40 percent worry the most during checkout if they think the process is taking too long.
It’s clear the average user equates performance with better security. With many users wary of online shopping because of the sheer number of data breaches in the past few years, it’s essential for websites to assuage those fears and provide a fast, streamlined web experience from arrival on site through checkout.
To achieve the ultimate objective of a flawless user experience across all mediums take constant effort. From monitoring, investigating any red flags, analyzing data and putting fixes/improvements in place, it’s a continual process. But, it is a process worthy of attention and reward.
Businesses should realize that web performance is the cornerstone of a positive user experience and – in the minds of consumers – is intricately connected to other important areas users look for as they interact with a business.