Want More Constituents on Your Website? Don’t Annoy Them!

Nate Luttrell- 09.14.2009

Let’s establish this point up front by doing an easy exercise. Now please, literally take the time to do these next two steps, and everything else will make sense.

Read, out-loud (quietly, of course if you’re in the office!), at your standard talking pace, the following two lines:



“One Mississippi”

“Two Mississippi”


Did you say it out loud? If not, go back and really take the time to say those two lines out loud…


OK, depending on how much coffee you’ve had this morning, and if you have a “Southern Drawl,” the time it took to say that is roughly two seconds. Other than being asked three times to do it – the actual two seconds it took to say that probably didn’t seem too annoying.


Now – LITERALLY take the time to speak, out loud, the following eight lines:


“One Mississippi”

“Two Mississippi”

“Three Mississippi”

“Four Mississippi”

“Five Mississippi”

“Six Mississippi”

“Seven Mississippi”

“Eight Mississippi”


I’m sorry, but I have to ask: Did you really read it out loud?!! If not, go back and read it…. (I’m waiting)….


Everyone is impatient!


If you did it, you’ll probably come to a very sobering conclusion about yourself, and the nature of people. We as a society are all impatient. And if you’re like anyone else, once you got around the “Six Mississippi,” line, you started to think about the amount of time this little verbal test-task was taking (and wasting!).


People don’t like anything that wastes their time. As a software developer – we were told that a screen should either take less than two seconds to load or we need to somehow update the user on the status of the process with a progress bar, clock, percentage complete, etc.


However – this “Two Second Screen” rule has been mostly unenforced and lost on the Internet as most people accepted that they just didn’t understand the reason why page loads were so slow, so they resolved to just sit there and be annoyed by them.


No matter how great your website is, if it’s slow, it’s annoying


If a web page takes more than two seconds to load, it’s no longer perceived as “instantaneous”. The clock is ticking before your users either get annoyed or start thinking about something else; and if they’re on YOUR website, you don’t want them doing either!


So imagine all the time you’ve put into making your website look fantastic. I can humbly advise you that once your visually impressed online constituent has waited 8 seconds for a page to load for the 3rd or 4th time in a row – they’re sick of it, and they don’t want to be on your website anymore.


It auto-terms: You have a smooth looking sports car that goes from 0-60 mph in about 35 seconds. (Try counting the “Mississippi’s on that!) It’s just frustrating just to go to the grocery store!


And what about offering great functionality on your site? Nice… but now you’ve just added cruise-control, GPS maps, auto-parallel parking, and that cool little beeping signal that sounds off when you’re backing up… onto a car that goes from 0-60 mph in about 35 seconds - and it’s STILL frustrating just going to the grocery store.


What Can You Do?


So what can you do? Well, there are many way to make your pages load faster from a website hosting perspective:


  • Better Hardware
  • Better Network / Application Configuration
  • Better Internet Connection


But unfortunately, these all cost a sum of money ranging from moderate to large!


But here’s one that doesn’t cost anything more than a “mindful” consideration during page building: Optimizing your content.


This method is the best of all, because, first off, it’s free, and next; it improves the performance of all other enhancements to performance by making the web page easier to send – not by trying to push it faster.


Next Month we’ll start lining up some suspects of a bloated webpage and smoke-out the one, most important thing you can do to put your site on a bandwidth-diet.


Until next time – keep doing good work :-)


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