Mobile Internet users are neither patient nor forgiving, according to a survey of more than 1,000 on-the-go surfers.
One-third expect Web pages to load at least as quickly on their phones as they do on a PC, says Equation Research, which conducted the survey for Web optimization specialist Gomez. Given my own experiences with 3G, that seems like a slightly unreasonable expectation, but it's good to have high standards.
How fast do users want a site to load? Fifty percent won't wait longer than 10 seconds; only 20 percent will give it 20 seconds or more. For a transaction like checking a bank balance, 38 percent said they'll wait up to 30 seconds before abandoning the site. But if the transaction takes longer than 90 seconds, a company has lost all but 12 percent of its audience.
And clearly the mobile Web isn't living up to users' demands. Sixty percent said they've had problems using Web sites on their phone in the past year. The number one problem, cited by 73 percent, was slow load times, followed by crashes (51 percent) and bad formatting (48 percent).
These failings have repercussions for organizations, according to the study. Mobile Internet usage is rising rapidly, thanks in part to devices like Apple's iPhone, which are better able to deliver Web content -- Nielsen Company says that mobile Web visitors increased from 42.5 million in July 2008 to 56.9 million in July this year. And a company that disappoints those users will suffer.
Sixty-one percent of those surveyed said they'd be less likely to go back to a site that gave them issues, which makes sense. But some of the other numbers should give companies pause: 40 percent would react to a bad experience by visiting a competitor's site; 26 percent would complain to family and friends; and 23 percent would reconsider future purchases.
"The mobile Web is all about convenience -- the Web in your pocket -- and slow mobile pages contradict that benefit," said Matt Poepsel, Gomez's VP of performance strategies, in a statement. "To avoid ongoing dissatisfaction and to capitalize on the mobile opportunity, businesses need to place mobile performance management squarely at the top of their to-do lists."Of course that's a message that benefits Gomez, a company that offers management and measurement of corporate Web sites and mobile apps and is in the process of being purchased by Compuware for $295 million. But the survey results are persuasive nonetheless.