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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.