The top retail websites are slower to load than they were last year, and the problem is at its worst on Google’s Chrome browser — the slowest of three browsers measured in Strangeloop Networks’ Fall 2012 State of the Union study on page speed and web performance.
Strangeloop measured the performance of the top 2,000 retail websites (as ranked by Alexa) during July and August, and found that the median page load was nine percent slower than its last study, which was done in November 2011. That’s measuring first-time page views, which slowed from 5.94 seconds last year to 6.5 seconds this year — a nine percent change for the worse. Load time was 15 percent slower for repeat visits, too (as shown on the right of the image below).
The study cites a number of reasons for the drop in load times, from websites just not following best practices to an increase in how many server requests are made with each page load — that number rose from 73 in 2011 to 77 this year.
Page speed isn’t only a usability/design best practice, but it’s also been a small part of Google’s ranking algorithm for more than two years.