Why your slow website is making mobile users crazy. Literally.

An experiment in neuroscience shows that a sluggish site can affect how your visitors actually think

If your website is slow, you may be making mobile visitors crazy. Literally.

New research from Radware Ltd , a vendor specializing in application delivery and performance, has crunched the numbers and found that mobile users actually undergo a form neurological transformation when surfing a slow website on a mobile device. Radware conducted that it calls “neurological mobile testing” to see what impact a slow website has on the minds of its users.

The testing was surprisingly thorough: Radware took 20 volunteers, wired them up to an electroencephalography (EEG), an eye tracking device, and handed each of them a smartphone. Radware then secretly throttled back their Internet connections to artificially slow the loading of webpages.

The results?

It found that slow websites induced “web stress”, increased agitation and caused poor concentration. In the experiment, users who experienced a 200 millisecond (ms) delay viewed 1.2% fewer webpages than non-throttled users. When the speed lag increased to 500 ms, users viewed almost 6% fewer webpages and the site conversion rates dropped by 1.9%. At a delay of 1000 ms, the stats really got bad: The conversion rate dropped by 3.5%, the bounce rate increased 8.3%, and the page views decreased by 9.4%.

The theory is that a person’s short term memory is so limited, than even small delays in loading a webpage – something particularly apparent for mobile users – can cause it to fail.

In this great slideslow, Radware’s Tammy Everts discusses her findings and explains mobile performance and why people think the way they do.