Rankings of Top Five Portals Finds Audience Tolerance Varies by Web Property; "Eight-Second Rule" Outdated and Inaccurate
Ottawa, ON, July 17, 2001 - webHancer Corporation, the first Internet performance company to measure and analyze website performance from the end-user perspective, announced the launch of realenduser.com, the Internet destination for Web site performance rankings and statistics. Designed to help improve the experience of Internet users and bring accountability to site operators, realenduser.com provides biweekly rankings and performance information on the Web`s most highly trafficked sites in easy to read tables, charts and graphs. For the launch of the site, performance statistics for the top five portals were revealed. The site will be a valuable resource to Internet users, e-businesses, press, and analysts for Internet performance information.
Similar to the concept of traditional television ratings systems, data published on realenduser.com will rank the Internet performance of top Internet sites. The indices will measure, by access speed, user experiences based on median page load times, user tolerances based on stopped page load times and user reactions based on stopped page rates. realenduser.com will compare performance data on a rotating basis for similar online verticals such as sports, search engines, news, auctions, media and apparel sites.
"The information webHancer presents on realenduser.com will show that broad assumptions on user tolerance, such as the `eight-second rule,` simply aren`t valid, and that each site must tailor its content and performance to the meet the needs of their specific user base," said Bruce Linton, president of webHancer. "realenduser.com provides users, analysts and media representatives with the accurate and precise experience delivered to real end users on the web. When it comes to understanding the what, why and how of performance, we hope that realenduser.com will become the definitive resource for all."
Captured from nearly 11 million Internet users around the world, the data featured on realenduser.com compares data from the leading Internet portals during the period from July 8 through July 14, 2001. realenduser.com compares Altavista, Excite, Lycos, MSN and Yahoo based on page load times, stopped page load times and stopped page rates by access speeds. In addition, the site provides data on the bytes received per page along with the user base breakdown based on access speed.
The data collected further bolsters the lessening importance of the much-vaunted and widely accepted "eight-second rule," which states that content must be rendered on the end user`s browser in eight seconds or users will abandon the page. Instead, webHancer finds that user tolerance (in the form of how long a user will wait prior to abandonment) varies drastically, based on site content and access speed. In fact, each portal has a unique stop page rate/time profile, outlining the need for sites to understand their unique user base when making performance-related decisions. The realenduer.com data reveals that Lycos, one of the poorest performing portals in terms of median page load time, has successfully balanced speed and content as evidenced by the low stop page rate of their user base.
"The relatively small page size, combined with a tolerant user base (illustrated by high stop page load times), makes Lycos the realenduser.com portal champion," said Linton.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, MSN tailors their portal to the high-speed crowd, sending an average of 54k each time its home page is loaded. MSN`s inflated stop page rates, however, reveal there is room for improvement. Because each portal has a different focus and a different target audience, the user load times and abandon rates fluctuate wildly between properties. Within each site, however, the numbers remain fairly constant. In fact, tolerance is in large part a learned behavior. For example, a delay acceptable to MSN users may not be acceptable to Yahoo! users due to past experience. More information on the specific findings for the portals can be found at www.realenduser.com.
"It`s important to understand what level of performance your customers expect from your site," said Susan Aldrich, Patricia Seybold Group in a recent brief. "You sometimes need to understand actual customer experience, rather than average or estimated customer experience."
realenduser.com provides Internet users access to key data on Internet performance and a community to share and compare experiences related to Web site performance and satisfaction. Features and data available on realenduser.com include:
Bi-weekly event driven performance highlights
Web site rankings
Best and worst sites by access speed
Performance index of top sites and editorial archives
User polls and talkback
Specific site performance statistics request submission
Real-time performance problem submission
webHancer data comparison to remote monitoring metrics
Links to and information on Internet performance resources, including articles, white papers and a glossary
The data collected and displayed on realenduser.com is based on information gathered from the experience of over 10 million end users. This information is collected through webHancer`s client-side software, Customer Companion, which sits transparently on the user`s desktop, and collects data on page load times, network and hosting speeds, delays, ad banner network efficiency, server response time, connection speeds, and abandon rates. The company does not collect personally identifiable information. webHancer`s privacy protection measures have been audited by Deloitte & Touche and certified by the Better Business Bureau Online Privacy Program.
About webHancer Corporation
Founded in 1999, webHancer Corporation is the first Internet performance company to provide Web measurement and analysis applications based on the performance experience, tolerance and reactions of actual end users, rather than machine-generated simulations. By tracking a Web site`s performance from the desktops of millions of end users, webHancer enables organizations to define optimization strategies for their Web sites that will allow them to meet the performance expectations and requirements of their customers, while still ensuring the best return on infrastructure investment.