Your Higher Education Marketing Link of the Week… Bath Spa University: Very Slow Primary Pages… 18 May 2018

Slow Websites Lose Visitors… No Matter How Many Awards are Won

Bath Spa UniversityEveryone like to win design awards. Especially the agencies that win client awards for creative advertising campaigns. And creative websites. And clients deserve to celebrate awards that recognize the effort that inevitably goes into creating a new site. But alas, when “the need for speed” isn’t a primary factor in website creation, the marketing effectiveness of the site will not be as strong as it might otherwise be.

After reading on Twitter an announcement from Roundhouse Digital that a new Bath Spa University website had won “5 accolades across two international digital awards” I went along to visit the site and test the speed. Details of the awards (from Horizon Interactive Awards 2017 and AVA Digital Awards 2018) are online at the Bath Spa website.

How much emphasis did creators of the new site place on the “need for speed” in recognition of the impatience of website visitors, especially on mobile? Not enough.

On Mobile… 15 second mobile download

Google Test My site gives the home page a “Poor” 15 second mobile download speed and predicts a 32 percent visitor lost “due to loading time.” By comparison, our last home page Link of the Week at University of Nebraska – Omaha received a “Good” mobile speed rating of 5 seconds.

Slow speed continues on other primary pages within the website:

  • International students… “Poor” at 9 seconds and estimated visitor loss of 29 percent.
  • Business School… also 9 seconds.
  • College of Liberal Arts… also 9 seconds.
  • School of Art and Design… 11 seconds and estimated visitor loss of 30 percent.
  • Institute for Education… 9 seconds.
  • Research and Enterprise… 13 seconds and estimated visitor loss of 31 percent.

There’s no doubt that the folks at Roundhouse Digital can create a fast website. Their own home page received an “Excellent” 3 second rating with an estimated “low” visitor loss rate due to speed.

Follow the Link of the Week…

Visit the new home page for Bath Spa University. Test your home page and other important pages at Google Test My Site and compare results. By all means, celebrate awards received for fine creative work. But tell your agency you expect your home page and key pages within the site to have a mobile download speed of 5 seconds. Or less.

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  1. I absolutely agree your post Bob.
    With that in mind, I also wonder how the Google test My site is accurate. I did 4 tests on my homepage and got the following results in that order: 4s, 5s, 8s, and 5s.
    I think it gives us a good idea but we better test it a few times.

    Thanks again for the blog, there is always something interesting.
    Ben RW

    • Hi Ben… Agree that Test My Site isn’t perfect. And I know some developer folk who hate it and can come up with reasons to not use it. Different scores at different test is not unusual. My first test of the Bath Spa home page was timed at 18 seconds… that would have been a home page record for me. But later tests were all 14 or 15 seconds.
      So that said, I believe it has value s a comparison tool to use against competitive websites. And because it is easy to use to at least give a first reading to take along to the people who can make sites run faster. Most important is to get the “need for speed” value high on every “to be done” list when a new site is built.

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