Fast-Downloading Websites Are Still Important

    April 24, 2003

People are impatient on the Web. They are function and task orientated. They want to get things done as quickly as possible. The average person is still accessing the Web over a 56 KB modem. You should therefore have a major focus on ‘light’ webpages if you want to increase reader-satisfaction.

“People hate to wait,” Andy King states in the opening line of his new book, ‘Speed Up Your Site’ (New Riders). The Web is essentially a self-service environment. A core promise of self-service is speed. A customer turns to self-service to save time, to save money, and because it is more convenient.

Some of the key points Andy King addresses in his book include:

  • How responsive your site is will in large part determine its adoption rate, which in turn affects your bottom line.
  • People perceive fast-downloading pages to be of high quality, while they perceive slow-downloading pages to be of low quality and untrustworthy.
  • The longer people interact with a website, the less they will tolerate delays.
  • People get very irritated if a webpage takes longer than 10 seconds to download.

    Speed Up Your Website is a thorough examination of website optimization techniques. It is not for the novice, as a substantial part of it is quite technical. Andy King certainly knows his stuff, having been the founder of and

    Over the years, I have constantly encountered the broadband mindset. I have seen a lot of money wasted on flashy websites that took an age to download. Yes, broadband usage is increasing. However, it still only represents around 30 percent of online Americans. In many other countries it represents less than 10 percent of the online population.

    So, what size should your webpage be? King and others believe that if you want to guarantee your pages download in less than 10 seconds, you should set a limit of 30 KB. My experience is that a 50 KB limit is reasonable. Aim for 30 KB but don’t go over 50 KB if possible.

    Generally, it is graphics that add most of the weight to a page. It is thus surprising how few websites spend the time to optimize their graphics. With a bit of work, I have seen graphics reduced in size by 50 percent, while still looking fine. I’ve begun using XAT Image Optimizer ( and have found it very effective.

    The way you write your HTML has an impact on your page size. Speed Up Your Site goes into a lot of detail about how you can optimize your HTML. Writing fully-optimized HTML requires a lot of skill. However, there are some simple things you can do. For example, make sure all your images have Height and Width tags. Also, remove unnecessary line breaks within the HTML.

    Remember, every byte you save makes for a better experience for the reader. You don’t have to shirk on quality to achieve a fast-downloading website. In fact, your brand is enhanced every time a reader can quickly and easily complete a desired task.

    As Andy King writes, people “associate slow-loading pages with inferior quality products and services, compromised security, and low credibility. Lower user satisfaction can lead to abandoned web sites and shopping carts.”

    For your web content management solution, contact Gerry McGovern

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