Back in the mid-nineties, long before I ever had a computer, I worked with an art director called David George. David had until recently been working at a large agency in New York. It appeared that US agencies were way ahead of UK agencies when it came to office technology. David had worked using an Apple laptop in New York and he carried the habit (and the laptop) back to England.
I watched fascinated as he demonstrated this clever, little machine. I was held in wonder as he accessed the creative archive of his former employer from our office in London’s West End. (They’d forgotten to cancel his access to the system.) Along the way he mentioned how slowly the Mac seemed to be downloading one of his former agency’s digital assets. He said that once you get used to using a computer, you crave for more and more speed in its workings. This couldn’t be truer today.
Research has shown that visitors to websites possess little in the way of patience. They give up if the page they are trying to access doesn’t load in a couple of seconds. They soon turn their attention to some speedier site. As you might imagine this often results in fewer sales for the slower site and more for the faster one. Wal-Mart twigged this years ago after comparing the speed of its website with other retailers. They discovered that a 100-millisecond improvement in the time taken for a page to load translated into a one per cent increase in revenue. Speed may kill on the roads, but it seems to be the lifeblood of a website.