Slow websites worse than traffic jams

Research on web performance and loading time

Amsterdam – August 8, 2011 -  While the Dutch are waiting some 400,000 hours in traffic jams every day, no less than 700,000 hours are wasted waiting for slow websites.

About 5 million motorists in the Netherlands are delayed for an average of 5 minutes on a daily basis. While this is a stunning figure, it is generously surpassed by 11 million daily Internet users who wait a total of 4 minutes each to view an average 88 pages. Despite the major social pressure on traffic jams, the Dutch experience more delays in their life due to slow websites.


Waiting times top-100 most visited sites in the Netherlands

This new insight is the result of research conducted by, combining its own measurements with previously published research from Google, ITU, Nielsen, New Relic and TNS-NIPO.

Many think slow sites are a problem of the past. But the people who develop sites are generally also the owners of the fastest connections. They throw in lots of eye candy and functionality, not realizing the average user is waiting five times longer. What adds up to the problem, is the slow connection of smartphones and tablets. Many sites are not optimized for 3G speeds,” says Willem de Groot, one of the researchers.

Previously in global research it was shown that on average a page takes 6 seconds to load and visualize in the browser. An interesting conclusion is that the top 100 most visited websites in the Netherlands on average only require 2.6 seconds, which demonstrates a correlation between popularity and loading times.

Major online organisations like Google, Microsoft and Facebook all load under 1 second. On the other end of the spectrum are sites from Ad, Ziggo, RTL and even Groupon who take more than 4 seconds.

Economically: if websites would load 50% faster it would mean 1% extra productivity per employee. When you do the math it shows this can yield a few billion euros economical productivity in the Netherlands alone. This sounds ridiculous, which it is actually. It makes you think.”, according to Donald Res, co-founder of the knowledge platform.

Run your own test

Although speed optimization is a hot topic among developers and managers, there are still a huge amount of slow sites around the world. With the Speed Effect App, available for free, you can do a quick analysis of any website. This application was developed to create awareness for global speed challenges.

Perform a website speed analysis with our Global Speed Effect App (BETA):

Methodology & justification

Basis for the research is the top 100 of most visited websites in the Netherlands (data from January 2011 [1], is missing because it doesn’t publish its own visitor numbers). has combined measurement figures from Webpagetest [2] and Yottaa [3] to get realistic loading times. The WebPageTest opensource software was run on a private dedicated server and configured to run Internet Explorer 8. The network speed was throttled to simulate a 6.8 mbps download link, which is the average actual Internet speed in the Netherlands according to M-Lab (data from May 2011 [4]). To further resemble user-perceived loading times, an adblocker was implemented because users generally consider a page as “loaded” before all the advertisements are loaded. Furthermore, all objects loaded after the initial DOM ready state – such as in-line flash requests, bookmark icons or AJAX calls – are left out of this research. The measured times have been averaged and concluded in the Top 100 fast websites of NL.

The loading time values have been recalculated into potential economic gain for the Dutch Market expressed in productivity, based on the following assumptions:

If a website with 1 million daily pageviews can reduce 1 seconds of their loading time it equals 2.7 million euro economic productivity a year. For the top 100 most visited Dutch websites we have calculated the economic gain by assuming we can reduce their load time to a generous 2.5 seconds. Combined with their estimated pageviews this can be expressed as their potential economic gain. The Economic Speed Gain Top 10 of the Netherlands shows the results of this analysis. We predict that sites ranked high in the Speed Effect Top 100 will increase their pageviews and visitors.

Nielsen concluded that an average internet user visits 88 pages daily, which is a conservative number compared with the comScore estimate of 120. The global average of 6 seconds average load time per page is based on research by New Relic [5].

Our results are summarized in the following tables:



About the researchers
Willem de Groot – Internet entrepreneur & developer. Aims to evangelize the importance of fast loading times for online apps and websites as it is an enabling factor for success.

Donald Res - Got his “speed addiction” at his time at Philips working on online strategy where he became aware of the amazing ROI of speed for global websites. Serial entrepreneur with engineering background and business acumen.

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