How Load Speed Impacts User Focus Time: Analysis of 83,828 Sessions

Jack Maden
Written by Jack Maden
January 04, 2017

This is part three of a series in which we summarize the key findings of our extensive data science report on load time. In order to measure load time’s impact on user behavior, our data scientists conducted in-depth analysis on 83,828 user sessions from two popular websites over a four-month period. While part one looked at bounce rate, and part two focused on page count, this post summarizes our findings regarding focus time.

Definitions

For the purposes of this report, we defined average load time as follows:

  • Average load time: the amount of time each website page takes to load and fully render across the user’s session, taken as an average.
    Average load time was then analyzed in relation to a number of behavioral metrics. In this post, we’ll be looking at focus time:
  • Focus time: the total amount of time the user spends actively engaging with the website.

Website A: Ecommerce

We looked at 64,407 user sessions on this ecommerce website. The below scatter graph distributes those sessions by focus time and average load time across all devices.

The trend of the above scatter graph indicates a negative correlation between focus time and average load time. In other words, as average load time goes up, focus time goes down.

The breakdown between devices – the graphs for which are available in the full report – shows that this trend is more pronounced on desktop than it is on mobile and tablet. The data suggests, therefore, that average load time has less of an impact for mobile and tablet users.

Website B: Travel

We looked at 19,421 user sessions on this travel website. The below scatter graph distributes those sessions by focus time and average load time across all devices.

As with the ecommerce site, the trend of the above scatter graph indicates a negative correlation between focus time and average load time. In other words, the longer a website takes to load for a user, the less time they will spend actively engaging with it.

This trend is more pronounced on desktop than it is on mobile and tablet, as found with the ecommerce site too.

Conclusion & Takeaways

Analysis of both the ecommerce website and the travel website reveals a negative correlation between focus time and average load time. In other words, the longer a website takes to load, the less time a user will spend engaging with it.

This is perhaps unsurprising. Anecdotally, we all know how frustrating it can be when a website does not load efficiently. The report, however, demonstrates how widespread this frustration is, and digital businesses must take note.

An interesting note is that, for both websites, the trend is more pronounced on desktop than it is for tablet and mobile.

A potential explanation for this is that, as our definition of average load time includes render time, perhaps rendering is not as obvious on a mobile device as it is, say, on a desktop (no mouse showing loading, for instance). This might thus give a perception of load speed that differs from the reality.

Another possible explanation is that mobile users have more of a tolerance for slow loading times because slow on-the-go connection issues are more expected.

Overall, however, it’s clear that in order to get users to spend more time actively engaging with websites, businesses must keep load times to a minimum.

Topics: Analytics, Conversion Optimization, Data, Website Performance
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