According to one survey from earlier this year, just over seventy percent of small businesses have a website, 79% of which have one that is mobile-friendly. And that’s just small businesses. Considering that around half of all registered businesses in the US consists of only one person (yes, the IRS considers “Food Blogger” a “Job”), and, on the other end of the spectrum, considering how tight we all know the enterprise-level web game is, you can now safely assume this: anyone that matters has a website, and if yours doesn’t provide a smooth online experience, you’re a straight shoo-in for an Economic Darwin Award.
And “smooth” is an understatement. McKinsey reported that Google found that more than 60% of users are unlikely to return to a company site they had trouble accessing—40% of them then reroute to a competitor’s site. While “user experience” often slides into conversations about colors, layouts and navigation patterns, you are missing the mark if you aren’t properly addressing the big fat ‘P’ of online presence: performance. If your site loads up like a slow-motion Star Wars intro, prospects will hate you, customers will hate you, Google will bury you on Page 12 between an Ethiopian restaurant and a Legion Hall, and then, you guessed it, Donald Trump will fire you.
While our moms may have taught us not to judge books by their covers, we are certainly trained to judge websites by not only their discoverability, but their speed and their elegance of interaction. When someone comes across your clunky, dial-up-broken-down website, here’s what they have no choice but to assume…
1. You Lost Track of Time and Forgot It Wasn’t the 90s
The 90s gave us a lot of things for which we should all be thankful: tear-away pants, Hootie and The Blowfish, a movie starring Shaq, and an endless supply of “Mad Cow” jokes to name a few. The one thing it didn’t give us–and really the only reason we left behind all its glory at the risk of our bank accounts exploding on New Year’s Day–was fast internet.
Exhausted was a global willingness to wait 70 seconds for a Baywatch gallery to load, so we turned the corner on a new century with dreams of wireless routers, lighting fast Limewires, and cash-money-caching as far as the eye could see, and as quick as the finger could click.
And we made it. Everything is faster, everyone is happier, and despite Jonathan Taylor Thomas transitioning from a television show to the side of a milk carton, we’re all pretty happy it’s not 1997 anymore. So fix your broken website, and your time machine, and “get with the now”.
2. You Probably Pronounce Wi-Fi “WIH-fee”
You might be a wonderful parent, honest, hard-working, and dedicated to providing your customer base with products and services that would make a Sultan log into Yelp. But if at this point you’re still struggling to understand what a “Browser” is, and you still say things like, “internet site”, “on the line” and “I’ll take 20 stamps please”, you just can’t be trusted. When the modern-day consumer comes to your website and it doesn’t load in a matter of blinks, that’s what they assume; “You don’t get technology—and if you don’t get technology, you don’t get my money.”
3. You Think “Waiting” Is Still Ok to Anyone
Louis CK is hilarious. He has a hilarious bit from a few years back on Conan O’Brian’s late show where he laments about the impatience and entitlement we have inherited as a culture through our progress in and obsession with technology. “Give it a second! It’s going to space!”, he exclaims, sarcastically addressing the millions of people who stare at their mobile phones in disgust when it can’t handle a few juicy graphics without bleeding a “Loading” treatment all over the screen for more than a few breaths.
It’s a funny bit—a “…generation of spoiled idiots.” It’s funny. It’s funny because it’s true, and it’s true because that is now the standard with just about anyone when it comes to everything. Starbucks tells you to order your coffee while you’re walking to the store so that you never wait in a line; we’ve gone from swiping and signing for credit card payments to entering PIN numbers to just tapping our card against a chubby calculator; websites are no longer “fast” or “slow”, they’re either just “working” or they’re just “f***ing broken”.
You can try to chalk this up to some epidemic of childishness, but that’s not the driver; we’re like this because there is no longer a reason to not be—there’s no reason to expect any less. If you don’t take your time to make sure you’re not wasting the consumer’s time, it screams “I don’t care” or “I don’t get it.” We might expect those sentiments from a teenager making an Emo mix tape, but not a business that plans on making the long haul.
4. You Have a Blind Spot for the Basics
The reality now is that monitoring, evaluating and optimizing your website performance and speed is table-stakes; if the 4 Ps of Marketing is still a thing, it’s now the 5 Ps (or the 6 Ps we suppose, depending what kind of “site” you’re running). And this is neither a highly technical nor a highly costly undertaking. A company with a website that doesn’t the “please load before I die” test—which, remember, is now a matter of milliseconds—is bordering on equivalence to a restaurant that doesn’t pass the “no fingernails in my soup” test. We’re talking about the basics, and there’s no reason to not get them right.
Take a product like DareBoost for example. For less than $60 per month you can test your own website load speeds, compare your load times directly with competitors, get email alerts summarizing any negative changes in week-over-week performance, and even get comprehensive reports in everyday language outlining all the structural elements of your site you could update to optimize quality, security, SEO and everything else that matters to a website.
You don’t need to hire a consultant, or have a degree in computer science; you just need to divert a couple of bucks a day and a few hours of time to let experts guide you on how to make sure your web presence is meeting the modern standards for “Good Business”. And you can start using tools like DareBoost for free. Even that is kind of expected in the industry now: “Don’t worry about exchanging money for now—just make sure your website doesn’t act like a soiled fax machine and then we’ll talk reimbursement.” That’s how badly everyone wants you to realize that there is no reason to ever sewer your brand over the fundamentals of an online presence.
So send the right message about your products, your services, your intentions, your understanding of the modern day consumer, and your overall competence as a company. Dust off the snails and get your website speed in high gear. Nowadays, when it comes to winning the race, “slow and steady” does not get you to the right kind of finish line. Pick up some solid technology, and pick up the pace—if all we wanted to do online was waste our time, we’d never leave Pinterest.
This article has been sponsored by DareBoost. Thank you for supporting the partners who support SnapMunk.
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Kurt Giles says
Slow website loading is not good and has not been good since day one.
Irving Seabrook says
Web sites, how they load, the content on them and how your visitors react to it are all just as important as they were back when the first website ended up online. Businesses just need to get out of the dark and build the right way.
Thomas Patton says
As a webmaster, it is hard to see some of these things at first because you always think that your website is built the exact way that it should be. We all know that is not the case after someone shows us. The good companies are the ones that notice this right away and are on the edge of innovation when it comes to web design.