The title almost says it all. How fast should a website load?

Searching this question brings a lot of different stories (most around 2011). Here they say that 50% of the users expect that the site loads under 2 seconds and that users will leave the site if it takes 3 seconds or more. But on other sites they say it should be at most half a second.

What are the current expectations of the users? Are there any (recent) studies on the load time of a page? Or perhaps on the page size?

I know a site should be as fast as possible, are there any numbers (standards / guidelines)?


Here is some study, it gives detail info.

(source: netdna-cdn.com)


I hear you asking for a simple answer. The best I can give you:

feel faster, than your competition does - 20%

All the core research about perception, responsiveness of systems, still holds true (e.g. the basic 0.1/1/10 seconds scale).

Check this great summary of performance perception, with ideas which could guide you. Like optimizing for "just noticeable difference" (jnd).

It makes no sense optimizing for a number (google analytics load speed) or metric (stay away from pagespeed rankings). Those are specific developer tools that have almost no connection to the big picture of the user perceived speed.

If you are not able to put more speed in (and that will come), just remember the first usability heurestic:

Visibility of system status

and just ask for patience.

PS that kissmetrics infographic is catchy, but offers very little real data. And coincidentally comes up first in google image search for "How fast should a website load?" ;)

  • I agree, but a number gives a good guide line. For example if I have a page with a lot of features, options, images etc which will take 10 to 15 seconds to load than is it acceptable for the people who visit the site? Off Couse 10 to 15 seconds is not acceptable, even with a lot of features, but it gives an idea how much features I can add in a page within an amount of time. – Jeff Mar 19 '16 at 13:22
  • actually it can't. there are no such magic numbers. they are always an expression of context and many many uncontrolled variables. is 15 seconds acceptable? If the context is right. people were standing days in lines for starwars tickets. anything beyond 1 second is "slow". dont look for excuses. do you serve valuable data? sure I'll wait. it's just bells and whistles? i'm leaving you sooner than that. – rogerovo Mar 19 '16 at 14:33

Yes it should load as fast as possible, but in the absence of a fast load time, the page should be coded to load the basic content first and then the css and java script so that the user is presented with something first thus retaining their attention for longer.

  • 4
    Even worse than a slow page is one where the text is visible and then disappears, because it finished loading the stylesheet/code to turn the text white before downloading the stylesheet to color the background. – octern Mar 18 '16 at 21:46

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