I was watching a video of Marissa Mayer from Google. There is a lot of good stuff in there but I wanted to cover this one part.
Google does a lot of A/B testing. They asked users if more results per page would be better and they said yes. Google went and did some testing to see if this was true. They found out that traffic went down by 20%. It was not because people were finding what they wanted it was because of web page load time. Remember here we are talking Google who return results in 0.16 seconds. She said returning 30 results only doubled the time so worst case it was still less than one second load time. She did not say when this test was done so it could have been when there were more people on dial up. Even if it was Google still loads very fast on dial up even 5 years ago. She then talked about Google Maps and how when it launched it was 120k in size. They reduced the size by 30% and they got 30% more maps requests. People want content fast.
Just about every site I have had to do an SEO evaluation for is over 500k and I have seen several that were 1mb. People need to understand that websites are not a TV commercial or a magazine spread. On TV and magazines you get the information instantly. You do the same thing on a website and people will be just sitting there for a bit. If a site takes longer than a few seconds to load people will hit the back button.
I have seen websites with 100k just in text from javscript, css, and html. Then there are the images. This is where things get out of hand. I had one client that had put huge .bmp files on the front page. This is an extreme and I have only seen once. The point is scale down your images and remove some altogether. Only use css that you are going to use on that page. Don’t load the css code for every page on your site for every page load.
If you really care about people spending time on your website make it fast. People want information and accomplish goals they don’t want a bunch of pretty pictures and fancy navigation. Your goal is not to impress your boss or friends it is to keep people on your website. The biggest mistake that people make is they show their website already loaded to a friend or boss and ask them what they think. That is an invalid test. First off the person is only looking at it like they do a TV commercial or magazine. That is not how they will look at it if they found the site by themselves. There is a big difference. Most people are in a big hurry very few people spend a ton of time on the Internet. Granted there is always an audience that does want all the bells and whistles and is willing to wait for the load time but they are in the minority.