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Websites face four-second cut-off

Shoppers are likely to abandon a website if it takes longer than four seconds to load, a survey suggests.
The research by Akamai revealed users' dwindling patience with websites that take time to show up.

It found 75% of the 1,058 people asked would not return to websites that took longer than four seconds to load.

The time it took a site to appear on screen came second to high prices and shipping costs in the list of shoppers' pet-hates, the research revealed.

Akamai consulted those who shop regularly online to find out what they like and dislike about e-tailing sites. About half of mature net-shoppers - who have been buying online for more than two years or who spend more than $1,500 (£788) a year online - ranked page-loading time as a priority.

It found that one-third of those questioned abandon sites that take time to load, are hard to navigate or take too long to handle the checkout process.

The four-second threshold is half the time previous research, conducted during the early days of the web-shopping boom, suggested that shoppers would wait for a site to finish loading.

To make matters worse, the research found that the experience shoppers have on a retail site colours their entire view of the company behind it.

About 30% of those responding said they formed a "negative perception" of a company with a badly put-together site or would tell their family and friends about their expe­ri­ences.

Further research by Akamai found that almost half of the online stores in the list of the top 500 US shopping sites take longer than the four-second threshold to finish loading.

The survey questioned 1,058 net shoppers during the first six months of 2006.