Mobile web user expectations: 2009 vs 2011

Two years ago, Gomez commissioned Equation Research to conduct a survey of more than a thousand mobile web users to get a sense of people’s performance expectations. The report has been widely referenced (including here: see my performance cheat sheet, as well as Strangeloop’s mobile web infographic), so it’s no surprise that Gomez’s new follow-up report is being welcomed by the performance community.

This time around, Gomez once again commissioned Equation to survey mobile users, this time more than 4,000 from around the world. The resulting report doesn’t contain any huge surprises — it’s not news that mobile sites are too slow — but it’s still worth checking out in order to validate this fact.

I was curious to see how the 2009 and 2011 surveys compared when it came to several key questions, so I plotted the changes below. (Bear with my Photoshop 101 skills. At least I have the sense to stick with Arial.)

% of users who expect a site to load as quickly on their mobile device as on their desktop

This change isn’t surprising. It goes without saying that due to the proliferation of wifi networks and better devices, people’s mobile expectations are increasing.

I was much more taken by this next change:

% of users who will bounce after waiting 5 seconds for a mobile site to load

From 20% to 74% in just two years is a massive jump. At the same time, Keynote’s performance index for m-commerce sites has been fluctuating between 8 and 10 seconds for the past several months. There’s a huge disconnect here — and a huge opportunity for m-commerce sites that can solve their performance problems.

% of users who experienced problems when accessing a mobile site

A bit of optimistic news here, as we see that users are struggling somewhat less. Still, 57% is significant enough to be concerned about.

This next chart shows similarly hopeful findings:

% of users who would go to competitor's site after slow page load experience

I can’t help wondering if part of the reason why people are somewhat less likely to bail and try out a competitor is because they’re more jaded now. They realize that the competitor is probably just as likely to have a slow mobile site.

% of users who would not return to a slow mobile site

This may not seem like a major change, until you realize that it’s creeping toward the 50% mark. If you have a bricks-and-mortar store, imagine that half of the people who come to your shop are so disgusted by your customer service that they pledge never to return. That, in essence, is what’s happening here.

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