How Website Performance Affects Conversion Rates

A website's conversion rate is the percentage of users who take a desired action, and conversion rate is tied directly to how much revenue a website generates. Page speed has a huge impact on user behavior.

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Performance and Conversions

Learning Objectives

After reading this article you will be able to:

  • Define conversion rate
  • Understand how and to what degree website performance impacts conversion rates

What is a webpage's conversion rate?

In web jargon, a user converts when they take the action that the designers of the webpage wanted them to take. For example, on an e-commerce page displaying baby strollers, a user converts when they decide to purchase a stroller and click on the 'buy' button. A user does not need to purchase something in order to convert, however, as a webpage can have a variety of purposes. Other examples of user conversions include filling out and submitting a contact form, answering survey questions, or even just clicking through to the next page on the website.

The conversion rate is the percentage of total visitors to the webpage who convert. If 100 users visit the page advertising baby strollers, and 2 users actually click the 'buy' button, then the conversion rate is 2%. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the practice of pushing this figure as high as possible. Conversion rate optimization is an ongoing process, because unless a page's conversion rate is 100%, which is highly unlikely, it can always be optimized further.

Webpage Conversion
Conversion rate vs. page traffic

Conversion rate is a separate measurement from the total traffic, or number of visitors, to a page. If a page's conversion rate declines, then the total number of users converting goes down even if page traffic remains exactly the same. Conversely, if a page's traffic stays the same but the conversion rate increases, the total number of conversions will go up.

How does site speed affect conversion rates?

Website performance has a large, measurable effect on conversion rates. Studies have consistently shown that fast page speed will result in a better conversion rate. In other words, the quicker a webpage loads, the more likely a user is to perform the targeted action on that webpage.

Conversion Rates vs Page Load Times

How quickly should a webpage load? 47% of customers expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less, according to skilled.co. Also per skilled.co, testing by AI healthcare software company mPulse Mobile found that:

  • Pages that loaded in 2.4 seconds had a 1.9% conversion rate
  • At 3.3 seconds, conversion rate was 1.5%
  • At 4.2 seconds, conversion rate was less than 1%
  • At 5.7+ seconds, conversion rate was 0.6%

Other companies have experienced similar results:

  • Walmart found that for every 1 second improvement in page load time, conversions increased by 2%
  • COOK increased conversions by 7% by reducing page load time by 0.85 seconds
  • Mobify found that each 100ms improvement in their homepage's load time resulted in a 1.11% increase in conversion

These seemingly small increases in conversion have a huge impact on how much revenue a site generates. If an e-commerce site produces 10 million dollars in sales per year, and if the conversion rate increases by 2% after the website's load time improves by a second (as in the Walmart case study), that's a $200,000 increase in revenue.

What other factors besides page performance affect conversion rate?

Conversion rate is also affected by page design, page layout, the text and images on the page, and so on. If it's not clear to a page visitor what action they should take next, or if too many options are presented, they may bounce from the page. Independent of all these issues, website speed optimization should improve conversion rates even if the page still has other areas that need to be optimized.

Website speed, SEO, and conversion rate

Page speed affects both conversion rate and SEO. Thus, improving it can help increase both total traffic and the conversion rate for a page. The Cloudflare CDN speeds up website performance in order to help companies and website operators maximize the number of converting page visitors.