Thursday, March 1, 2012

Impatient Web Users Flee Slow-Loading Sites -

Impatient Web Users Flee Slow-Loading Sites -

Wait a second.

No, that’s too long.

Remember when you were willing to wait a few seconds for a computer to respond to a click on a Web site or a tap on a keyboard? These days, even 400 milliseconds — literally the blink of an eye — is too long, as Google engineers have discovered. That barely perceptible delay causes people to search less.

People will visit a Web site less often if it is slower than a close competitor by more than 250 milliseconds (a millisecond is a thousandth of a second).

“Two hundred fifty milliseconds, either slower or faster, is close to the magic number now for competitive advantage on the Web,” said Harry Shum, a computer scientist and speed specialist at Microsoft.

The hunger for speed on smartphones is a new business opportunity for companies like Akamai Technologies, which specializes in helping Web sites deliver services quicker. The company sees the mobile Internet as the next big challenge. “Users’ expectations are getting shorter and shorter, and the mobile infrastructure is not built for that kind of speed,” said Tom Leighton, co-founder and chief scientist at Akamai, who is also an M.I.T. professor. “And that’s an opportunity for us.”

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