May 23, 2001, 12:00 AM

Online marketers losing billions due to slow-loading pages

Reducing page weight saves time and can capture lost sales, says Byte Level Research. The goal: faster load times to serve impatient consumers. Most retail sites fall in the middle by weight, the researcher says.

Marketers lose $25 billion a year due to slow-loading web sites and customer bailout, according to Zona Research. The most common reason for slow loading is that sites use too many graphics or too much scripting which consumes excessive amounts of bandwidth. Of 300 web sites across several industries whose page weights were studied by Byte Level Research, retail sites fell right in the middle with an average page weight of 93 kilobytes. Search engine and portal sites were the lightest and speediest with an average page weight of 56K, followed by software and hardware industry sites at 77K. Automobile and media sites had the heaviest average pages of the industries studied, weighing in at 155K and 157K, respectively.

Research from Keynote Systems shows that the average length of time a typical user will wait for a page to load, formerly estimated at 8 seconds, has now dropped to 3 seconds, notes John Yunker, Byte Level principal. “The best-designed web site is worthless if users don`t have the patience to wait for it to load or if the competition offers a site that loads more quickly,” he says. “Companies that manage the weight of their site not only better serve the customer, but save money on bandwidth fees and content accelerator vendors.”

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