“25 Best University Websites for 2018”
That’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
Link 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.
- University of California Berkeley… Good… 4 seconds… 10 percent
- University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign… Good… 5 seconds… 19 percent
- University of Michigan… Good… 4 seconds… 10 percent
- University of Texas Austin… Fair… 7 seconds… 26 percent
- University of South Carolina… Fair… 7 seconds… 26 percent
- University of Washington… Poor… 14 seconds… 32 percent
- Virginia Tech… Poor… 16 seconds… 33 percent
- University of Georgia… Fair… 7 seconds.. 26 percent
- Michigan State University… Good… 4 seconds… 10 percent
- University of Arizona… Fair… 8 seconds… 28 percent
- University of Colorado Boulder… Fair… 6 seconds… 24 percent
- Indiana University Bloomington… Poor… 11 seconds… 30 percent
- University of California Los Angeles… Good… 5 seconds… 19 percent
- University of Minnesota Twin Cities… Good… 4 seconds… 10 percent
- Texas A&M University… Good… 4 seconds… 10 percent
- University of Houston… Fair… 8 seconds… 28 percent
- Arizona State University… Good… 4 seconds… 10 percent
- Florida State University… Fair… 6 seconds… 24 percent
- Florida International University… No report after 45 minutes
- University of California Irvine… Fair… 6 seconds… 24 percent
- University of Missouri… Good… 5 seconds… 19 percent
- Penn State… Fair… 6 seconds… 24 percent
- Purdue University… Good… 5 seconds… 19 percent
- Ohio State University… Fair… 8 seconds… 28 percent
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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