Testing the “Best 25” Higher Ed Websites for Mobile Speed… 11 are “Good,” 4 are “Poor”

“25 Best University Websites for 2018”

Google test my siteThat’s the misleading title of a Tweet that took me to an article by Jay Baer, “founder of Convince & Convert, a digital marketing company.” Why is the title misleading? Baer reviewed websites at the 50 largest public universities in the U.S. From those, 25 were selected as ‘best” based on ratings a combination of qualitative and quantitative factors. You can review the rating criteria and download the full report here.

Despite the teasing title, the results made me wonder how many of the “best” sites did well on the mobile download speed of their home pages as rated on Google’s Test Your Mobile Speed page. In other words, how many got at least a “Good” rating for a speed of 5 seconds or less.

Results were better than I expected as 11 of the home pages were Good, with an estimated visitor loss percent between 10 and 19 percent. Rating speed is likely to vary by a second or two with different tests. For this listing, I only scored each site once. Florida International University was an exception… Google on three different attempts reported that the rating was “taking longer than expected” and asked me to check back. I gave up after about 45 minutes.

Contemporary design doesn’t mean slow speed…

Scan the results below, listed in the order that Baer ranked the “25 Best” sites. We have one major take-away: it is possible to create websites using contemporary design formats that are mobile-friendly with respect to speed. We have 11 universities that have done that. We have another 10 “Fair” sites that likely could reach the “Good” level without extraordinary effort. If that’s the case with your own site, start your improvement plan by checking through the detailed free report that Google will send you after your speed test.

And then there are the blessedly small number of just 4 websites that scored a “Poor” rating. One has to suspect that (1) either nobody at those universities with web responsibilities understands the value of speed or (2) some people do value speed but they get overruled by design and content imperatives of others who are not as wise. Articles abound on the value of speed. A good starting place for people who might move in the right direction with a bit more understanding: “Find out how you stack up to new industry benchmarks for mobile page speed.”

The “25 Best University Websites” according to Jay Baer

University of California BerkeleyLink from here to the home pages that interest you the most. The Google results are simple. I’ve added the overall rating first, followed by the mobile download speed reported in my test and then Google’s estimate of the percent of visitors who will leave before the site is ready to view.

  1. University of California Berkeley… Good… 4 seconds… 10 percent
  2. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign… Good… 5 seconds… 19 percent
  3. University of Michigan… Good… 4 seconds… 10 percent
  4. University of Texas Austin… Fair… 7 seconds… 26 percent
  5. University of South Carolina… Fair… 7 seconds… 26 percent
  6. University of Washington… Poor… 14 seconds… 32 percent
  7. Virginia Tech… Poor… 16 seconds… 33 percent
  8. University of Georgia… Fair… 7 seconds.. 26 percent
  9. Michigan State University… Good… 4 seconds… 10 percent
  10. University of Arizona… Fair… 8 seconds… 28 percent
  11. University of Colorado Boulder… Fair… 6 seconds… 24 percent
  12. Indiana University Bloomington… Poor… 11 seconds… 30 percent
  13. University of California Los Angeles… Good… 5 seconds… 19 percent
  14. University of Minnesota Twin Cities… Good… 4 seconds… 10 percent
  15. Texas A&M University… Good… 4 seconds… 10 percent
  16. University of Houston… Fair… 8 seconds… 28 percent
  17. Arizona State University… Good… 4 seconds… 10  percent
  18. Florida State University… Fair… 6 seconds… 24 percent
  19. Florida International University… No report after 45 minutes
  20. University of California Irvine… Fair… 6 seconds… 24 percent
  21. University of Missouri… Good… 5 seconds… 19 percent
  22. Penn State… Fair… 6 seconds… 24 percent
  23. Purdue University… Good… 5 seconds… 19 percent
  24. Ohio State University… Fair… 8 seconds… 28 percent
  25. Tie

Even faster home page… 3 seconds

While 4 seconds was the fastest mobile speed recorded for these home pages, you can get lower. Visit the “Excellent” Grand Valley State University home page at 3 seconds.

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