Zero-Patience Users: The Next Great Opportunity

Corinna Krueger

Impatience brings opportunity. At least that’s true for purveyors of e-commerce, travel sites, entertainment and SaaS applications. At Instart Logic, we are excited to see how impatient users have become. Although we label them zero-patience users to sharpen the focus on their need for speed, they have actually shown a lot of patience. Mobile users, in particular, endured extremely long load times for years. A page that loads in 3.6 seconds on a wired desktop could take 38 seconds on an iPhone or 90+ seconds on an iPad.

Tolerance for that kind of delay couldn’t last forever. Apparently it hasn’t.

Visitors are less likely to return to a site that is even 250 milliseconds slower than a competing site, according to Harry Shum, who led development on Microsoft’s Bing search engine.

Who is the zero-patience user?

Given the slower page loads on mobile devices, smartphone and tablet users are probably those who have most completely run out of patience, and they have clout. The mobile user is key to the future of e-commerce, and most likely, to continued growth and adoption of enterprise SaaS apps.

Across all industries, the web is well on its way to being primarily mobile. Kleiner Perkin’s Mary Meeker noted recently in her 2014 Internet Trends report that globally, mobile data traffic is growing at over 50% annually and will continue on that trajectory.

Why take the zero-patience user seriously?

Zero-patience users have impact in a wide variety of industries:

  • E-commerce — we’ve seen dramatic gains when businesses push performance gains to satisfy zero-patience retail customers. Faster-loading web pages increase the percentage of shoppers who progress from a search, to a decision, to an actual “buy now” purchase.
  • Travel & Hospitality — travelers increasingly book lodging and rental cars after they have started their journey; for example, waiting in line to check in for their flight. That is probably the most time-urgent example, but speed wins over customers who are simply planning a trip in advance, too.
  • Entertainment — users anxious for tickets and information on imminent sports or other entertainment events are naturally in low-patience mode. Small differences in site speed become important to complete the “book now” transaction and closing a sale.
  • SaaS — for business application users, waiting three seconds on a screen refresh with every small field change or update can quickly become irritating. The reaction can easily become “I won’t use your tools” and result in expensive ghost licenses, where a company licenses 100 seats and only two or three are used.

For decades, it’s been accepted that delays of more than a second break a user’s flow of efficient work, and industry leaders such as Google have often cited this finding. For most of us, direct experience confirms that to be true.

Google’s view: despite unstable and unreliable mobile Internet across the globe, websites that take more than two seconds to load will sacrifice traffic, and while this two-second “Google” rule is still often cited, experts in human-computer interaction say it’s too lenient. “The old two-second guideline has long been surpassed on the racetrack of Web expectations,” said Eric Horvitz, a scientist at Microsoft’s research labs.

Instart Logic conducted a survey of e-commerce operators in early 2014 and the results reinforced the direct experience of nearly everyone with a smartphone: for a sequence of engagement to occur, such as buying an item, the pages must load in 1 to 3 seconds.

Multiple performance challenges

When you combine zero patience with unpredictable wireless connections, weak computing power of mobile devices, and many screen types, life is tough for etail and other industries. Users expect fast responsive web sites, catering to their Retina-class smartphone and tablet displays. They show a ferocious appetite for complex personalized pages with upgraded images, which helped cause the Great Web Slowdown of 2013, discovered by every person using the Internet and documented by Alexa in tests of the leading 500 retail sites. In 2013, the median page load took 9.3 seconds , an unwelcome jump from the median of 7.7 seconds one year earlier.

Now, the good news

For starters, we’re confident that zero-patience Web users are the Next Great Opportunity for companies doing business online. Speed up your web performance, especially for the mobile users who often wait 10 to 15 seconds or more for page loads, and you are likely to see immediate benefits of surprising magnitude. We see it happen with our customers, over and over.

  • Travel site switched to our technology, which immediately cut two seconds from their average page load. Not only did this quickly double their SEO traffic, but their traffic and user base exploded as they became the fastest growing travel site in the world, with a growing percentage of their users coming from mobile devices.
  • Online retailer Dollar Shave Club ran an A/B test with half its traffic coming through Instart Logic’s service, and saw an immediate 16% gain in conversions overall. Remarkably, on the most popular Android phone, the conversion gain was over 126%.
  • Web service If This Then That (IFTTT) adopted Instart Logic and immediately, with no code changes, saw a 50% reduction in load times. IFTTT was able to decrease its server utilization by 40 percent while its user activity doubled after the performance boost.

Read our whitepaper on the Instart technology these companies applied to speed performance and achieve those results.

We suggest you ignore the doom and gloom of “slowness and its dire consequences” and instead focus on the desired goal: boost your download performance significantly, creating a better user experience, and you will see impressive results. This is a big challenge, but one with a demonstrable, high-ROI, low-risk solution.

Use performance as your differentiator

Instart Logic customers have established what works in this new world. They delivered the right "mobile moment" and have flourished. That requires faster web and mobile application delivery. Technology is rushing toward this market need.

For those who demand significant performance improvements, the options have shifted away from the tools that were used over the past 15 years. “The zero-patience phenomenon will drive development of an entirely new breed of tools to speed up web applications in ways never before possible,” said Manav Mital, CEO of Instart Logic, in Ecommerce Times recently.

The zero-patience customer is an unavoidable opportunity. Instart Logic encourages every website operator to satisfy this tough customer, and let the positive results ripple across all customers.

The end solution for the zero-patience user — and which our customers have proven works — is our new approach to web and mobile application delivery. It encompasses web application streaming, flexible optimization for each situation, and efficient resizing of images on the server side to work well with the connection and the device screen available.

Our team has worked together to produce a whitepaper on the zero-patience web user and Instart Logic’s technology, which was designed from inception for the era of this zero-patience user. There’s no going backward on performance — and there’s a great opportunity to win loyalty now by delivering the right “mobile moment.”