March 1, 2012
Only a few years ago, two or three seconds was considered the maximum people would wait for a webpage to load before becoming impatient and moving on.
New studies have found that website visitors now become impatient in a matter of milliseconds.
In 2009, a study by Forrester Research found that online shoppers expected pages to load in two seconds or fewer — and at three seconds, a large share abandon the site. Only three years earlier a similar Forrester study found the average expectations for page load times were four seconds or fewer.
The two-second rule is still often cited as a standard for Web commerce sites. Yet experts in human-computer interaction say that rule is outdated. “The old two-second guideline has long been surpassed on the racetrack of Web expectations,” said Eric Horvitz, a scientist at Microsoft’s research labs.
Impatience certainly plays apart in people’s expectations, but another major factor is the sheer amount of content competing for our attention. If a site takes too long to load, there’s another one with equally interesting content just a click away.