Is there any particular research done on website loading time and the users' expectations?

I mean, if the website takes a lot of time to load, does the user expect a nice media rich/animated experience with a lot of eye candy?
Or doesn't the user really care about the eye-candy and animated experience?
Is any research done on this topic, and does the load time raise the expectations from the website?

I have gone through this, but that didn't really answer what I want to know, because I am not concerned about conversion ratio, but my question is about the users' expectations from a longer loading time for pages. Please let me know if there are any resources I can go through on this matter.

PS: The website loads the files only in the beginning, later on there is no loading or delay.


7 Answers 7


Users expect the interface to load as fast as possible.

There is no need for research about user expectations during the loading process because it is logical that they will expect it to load as fast as possible. If the app/website doesn't load in 10 seconds they will leave.

As Andrew Martin pointed the faster the app/website loads the higher the conversion rate. So load time is really important and it should be constantly improved, as other answers noted.

However, if you have done all possible optimization and your loading time is still considerable you can invent something that gets users attention. An animated loading cursor which moves and gets users attention is a good choice. Also progress bar is a good option too.

The important thing is that users don't focus their attention on waiting for the interface to load but on something else (animation, progress bar or image).

Example 1:

enter image description here

Example 2:

enter image description here

Source of gif examples: this article.

  • It only takes time to load the animations and CSS for the first time, inside the site there is no loading. So is that ok ? Oct 12, 2016 at 8:29
  • Yes it is much better to make users wait only 1 time rather than make the wait many times. Oct 12, 2016 at 11:00
  • 5
    It should be clarified though, that giving them something to watch while they wait is good to keep their attention, but if there is anything you can do to avoid or reduce the wait time make sure you do that too!
    – scunliffe
    Oct 12, 2016 at 14:20
  • @scunliffe Yes, I've pointed that out. Look at the whole second paragraph and the first sentence of the third paragraph. Oct 12, 2016 at 15:47

As a user, I don't care how rich your content is, how cool your animations are, or how much parallax your site contains... I came there to do something.

Load time matters - Load as fast as you can. For me on desktop I want to see the content in less than 2 seconds, on mobile I will tolerate a bit more (maybe 5 seconds)

A few things to keep in mind. Visitors to a site often care about these things the most:

  1. Contact info (phone, email, physical address) - these should be super easy to find
  2. Support (if you provide help/support of any kind) - this should be a CTA right near the top of the screen
  3. Hours of Operation - very important, esp. in retail
  4. Who are you, and what do you do? - For a new visitor to your site just finding out about you (possibly a shared link) get to the point in your primary copy. Try very hard to avoid stuffing this with useless buzzwords.

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I've been to so many sites that put out garbage like above and after reading it you're like... I still have no clue who you are or what you do - goodbye!


Latency doesn't appear to affect expectation but it does reduce traffic and harm your NPS.

I read this article a long time ago: Latency is everywhere and it costs you sales

The crucial take away is that loading time costs you users no matter what the destination or end result is:

Google found an extra .5 seconds in search page generation time dropped traffic by 20%


I am sure there are lots of studies on this, but finding them could be difficult because many are not public (larger companies keep this stuff in house). Obviously Nielsen has done some studies on the human psychology of delays (see the answers to this question here)

However as you asked for studies, there are consequences to not focusing on page speed which can hurt your brand https://www.apicasystem.com/blog/7-reasons-why-your-website-needs-to-be-faster/

According to Forrester Research:

56% of bankers and brokers expect web pages to load in 2 seconds or less, and will be dissatisfied and unlikely to recommend a service based on a negative experience.

Aberdeen Group did a comprehensive study on website loading times and engagement, and found the following:

  • 57% of online consumers abandon a site after waiting 3 seconds for a page to load.
  • 32% of online consumers abandon a site between 1 and 5 seconds.

  • a site that loads in 3 seconds will see 22% fewer page views and a 50% higher bounce rate than a site that loads in 1 second.

  • a site that loads in 5 seconds will see 35% fewer page views and a 105% higher bounce rate.

  • a site that loads in 10 seconds experiences 46% fewer page views and a 135% higher bounce rate.

Microsoft and Google reported the following statistics:

  • 8 out of 10 people will not return to a “slow” site.

  • 3 out of these 8 people will tell others about their bad experience.


I would answer this with another question "What do you mean by website loading time?".

There are many ways to measure how quickly a website loads including things like "time to first byte" which may or may not be appropriate.

Many organisations find that actually measuring such metrics isn't a true reflection of website performance. For example, by upgrading my network infrastructure I may reduce my time to first byte, but that might not be the main issue in my website loading time.

Twitter for example has its own metric "time to first tweet" Which takes into account many things such as the database queries and browser rendering speed.

As others have eluded to, there are many many research papers in each of these specific areas, but I don't think anything as general as "website loading speed vs expectations".


I have learnt about this, but unfortunately, I cannot provide the screenshots for the reference.

It is recommended that the wait time shouldn't exceed more than 2 seconds. if so, the below guidelines needs to be followed:

  1. Provide accurate feedback to the user if you know how long a page takes to load or a task takes to complete (for instance loading data, content, fetching data, do some action, etc.). For instance: 'n' seconds remaining...

  2. If you do not know, how long will it take to complete the action, provide a feedback, something like loading, progress bar, or some kind of feedback to the user.

  3. Even, if it takes less than 2 seconds, providing a feedback to the user is highly recommended to tell the user that something is happening.

  • its just the animation files and CSS. so will that too need the progress bar ? Oct 12, 2016 at 8:18
  • 1
    Can you cite any sources other than yourself, please? We could all make claims about certification or experience but without reference to legitimate research, these have no meaning. Oct 12, 2016 at 8:21
  • Unfortunately, not since I cannot share the snaps from the books which I got it while doing the certification. If the reference is the problem, I am deleting it. but, if you have any questions / concerns, regarding the answer which I provided, please do let me know.. I'll try to clarify ? Oct 12, 2016 at 8:27
  • @BhagyeshChaudhari - Sorry, I didn't get your question... can you elaborate? Oct 12, 2016 at 8:35
  • @BhagyeshChaudhari: As per my thinking... we don't need any eye-candy loading images (or css 3) animations here, the content itself depicts that the page / content is loading and user can also see the status on browser's tab (loading animation) and also on the status bar. Generally, the feedback (progress bar or any animation) is used for the task based applications. Oct 12, 2016 at 8:58

Depends on what kind of user is using the product. I read somewhere that user's perception of load times are more closely correlated to whether a user is able to achieve his or her goal than actual load time when it comes to transactional websites and web applications.

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