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How Page Count is Affected by Load Time across Devices: Report Findings

Jack Maden  |  November 25, 2016

Jack Maden  |  November 25, 2016

        

This is part two of a series in which we summarize the key findings of our extensive data science report on load time. In order to measure load time's impact on user behavior, our data scientists conducted in-depth analysis on 83,828 user sessions from two popular websites over a four-month period. Part one looked at bounce rate, while this post focuses on our findings regarding page count.


Definitions

For the purposes of this report, we defined average load time as follows:

  • Average load time: the amount of time each website page takes to load and fully render across the user’s session, taken as an average.

Based on this metric, users were grouped into three classes:

  • Fast loaders: users who experienced an average load time of up to four seconds.
  • Medium loaders: users who experienced an average load time of between four and eight seconds.
  • Slow loaders: users who experienced an average load time of over eight seconds.

These load times were then analyzed in relation to a number of behavioral metrics. In this post, we'll be focusing on page count:

  • Page count: the total number of website pages the user views across their session.

The data is broken down both by website, and by device. 


Website A: Ecommerce

We looked at 64,407 user sessions on this popular ecommerce website. Of those sessions, the average page count per user session 3. The below graph shows how load time impacted page count across all devices.

Website A - ecommerce.png


The data shows that, for the 64,407 user sessions we analyzed on this ecommerce website, average load time has a negative correlation with page count. In other words, users who experience higher load times view fewer pages.

This trend is most pronounced for desktop users. Fast desktop loaders have a 68% higher page count than slow desktop loaders, and a 20% higher page count than medium desktop loaders.

For tablet users, the story is the same but the numbers are much less striking. Fast tablet loaders have a 7% higher page count than slow tablet loaders, and a 4% higher page count than medium tablet loaders.

Interestingly, the trend for mobile users is different. While fast mobile loaders have a 4% higher page count than slow mobile loaders, they actually have a 4% lower page count than medium loaders. This bucks the trend established by the other devices.

The average page count is also interesting to note across devices regardless of load time: 3.5 pages for desktop, 2.4 for mobile, and 2.8 for tablet.

 

Website B: Travel

We looked at 19,421 user sessions on this travel website. Of those sessions, the average page count per user session was 2.7. The below graph shows how load time impacted page count across all devices.

Website B - travel.png


The data shows that, for the 19,421 user sessions we analyzed on this travel website, average load time has a negative correlation with page count. In other words, users who experience higher load times view fewer pages.

As with the ecommerce website, this trend is most pronounced for desktop users. Fast desktop loaders have a 32% higher page count than slow desktop loaders, and a 12% higher page count than medium desktop loaders.

The average page count for devices regardless of load time follows the same trend as the ecommerce website too. Desktop users view the most pages (2.8), followed by tablet users (2.6), and mobile users (2.4).

The most interesting finding regards mobile users. The page count for fast and medium mobile loaders is just 4% higher than that for slow mobile users, suggesting average load time affects user behavior to a lesser extent on mobile than it does on other devices.

 

Comparison & Conclusion

The below graph compares all data from both websites to reveal overall trends in how average load time impacts page count as a whole.

Website comparison.png


The data shows that, for the 83,828 user sessions analyzed across both websites and over all devices, average load time negatively correlates with page count. In other words, the longer it takes for a website to load, the fewer pages a user will view. For both websites, this trend is most pronounced for desktop users, and - interestingly - does not totally hold true for mobile users. 

For website A, fast desktop loaders have a 68% higher page count than slow desktop loaders. Likewise, on website B, fast desktop loaders have a 32% higher page count than slow desktop loaders. On mobile, however, for both website A and website B, fast loaders view just 4% more pages than slow loaders. 

Curiously, then, the data seems to show that mobile users have more of a tolerance for load time: their behavior is not impacted by increasing load times as much as it is for users of other devices.

A potential explanation for this is that, as our definition of average load time includes render time, perhaps rendering is not as obvious on a mobile device as it is, say, on a desktop (no mouse showing loading, for instance). This might thus give a perception of load speed that differs from the reality. Another possible explanation is that mobile users have more of a tolerance for slow loading times because slow on-the-go connection issues are more expected. It should be noted, too, that regardless of load time, mobile users viewed fewer pages than desktop and tablet users for both websites.

The overall trend, however, shows that as load time increases, page count decreases. In order to ensure users stay engaged and view as many website pages as possible, therefore, digital teams must focus on keeping load times to a minimum.

To delve deeper into the data - and see how load time impacts other behavioral metrics - download your free copy of the full report now, by hitting the banner below.

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Jack Maden

Written on November 25, 2016 by:

Jack Maden

Jack is Digital Manager at Decibel, the best digital experience intelligence platform around! He also runs philosophy break.

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