Companies Need To Improve Mobile Load Times
Two years ago, technology performance firm Compuware issued study results showing that mobile users were frustrated by slow load times and other problems accessing mobile sites. Little has changed since then, according to findings from an updated version of the survey.
For example, 57% of mobile users globally in 2011 reported having a problem loading a mobile site, nearly the same as the 60% rate two years ago. Nearly half (47%) had trouble opening mobile apps. At the same time, people have higher expectations for the speed of the mobile Web.
Seven in 10 (71%) believe a Web site should appear as quickly on their phone as on their desktop, up from 58% in 2009.
Nearly 60% of Web users say they expect a mobile site to load in three seconds or less, and 74% are willing to wait five seconds before leaving the site. Half are only willing to wait five seconds or less for an app to load before giving up. China has the most demanding users -- with 73% expecting pages to appear in three seconds or less, compared to 58% in the U.S.
The problem is that 77% of top companies across different industries have mobile page load times of more than five seconds. And people don't have much patience for retrying a site that isn't launching instantly. The majority of mobile Web users are only willing to retry a Web site (78%) or application (80%) two times or less if it does not work initially. A third will head to a competitor's site instead.
Compuware says that non-optimized mobile sites are part of the difficulty accessing mobile. About 90% of the top 30 U.S. banks and top 30 retailers have mobile-specific sites and/or applications. But further down these lists and in other verticals, the number of companies with a proper mobile presence decreases, leading to performance issues.
Certainly other factors, such as varying user experience across different mobile browsers and devices, as well as network speeds, can also have a significant impact. But even in testing sites on the same devices and networks, the difference in response time between the fasted and slowest mobile site can be as high as 12 seconds.
What can companies do to speed up their mobile sites? By measuring performance from an end-user perspective, a site can figure whether it's something inside the firewall, a third-party service, a slow ISP or CDN, or a mobile browser, according to Lorenz Jakober, product marketing manager of mobile for Compuware's application performance management (APM) business.
"If your mobile site is generally slower than your competitors, you need to focus on tweaking your entire delivery chain -- from the data center to how the mobile browser interacts with your site," he said. The risk for Web publishers and marketers is that mobile users who have a bad experience are much less likely to return to that site. Nearly half of mobile Web users are unlikely to return to a site they had trouble accessing, and 57% are unlikely to recommend the site, according to the Compuware.
The results were drawn from survey conducted earlier this year among 4,014 cell owners (1,001 from the U.S., and about 500 each from the U.K. Germany, France, China, India, and Australia).