While it seems the adage “The more things change, the more they stay the same” still rings true, there are signs that consumers’ expectations when it comes to the website experience may be evolving.

A recently released study, “The State of the User Experience” from content delivery network service provider Limelight Networks, revealed that how well a website performs, while still “Important” or “Most Important,” is now behind content as the key feature for a website. In the survey, performance fell by about 13 points to 65 percent, down from 78 in 2014. Conversely, having content that was fresh and regularly updated took over the top spot, increasing from 68 percent in 2014 to just shy of 72 percent this year.

In a related matter, increasing numbers of consumers are expecting mobile sites to perform on par with desktop sites. In 2014, 47 percent thought this should be the case, but over the course of the year that number has jumped to almost 56 percent, an indication that performance still counts.

But despite the preference for a consistently well-performing site, the times are a-changin’ when it comes to consumer patience. More than half (52 percent) said they would stick with a website even if it took longer than five seconds to load, up from 41 per cent last year. In addition, fewer were leaving during 3 to 5 and 1 to 3-second windows, an encouraging sign for slow loaders.

Even more encouraging was the revelation that fewer consumers were abandoning slow loading sites for quicker competitors. In 2014, only 37 percent said they stick with sites that load too slowly; this year 44 percent were willing to wait them out. The study also found consumers to be quite forgiving as 72 percent said they would give a site another chance despite slow load times.

The expectation of a personalized website experience has also changed. In 2014, 54 percent either wanted a website to remember preferences (27 percent) or didn’t care if it did (27 percent). Now, in 2015, those numbers are 43 and 21 percent, respectively. And, those giving a flat out “No” to personalized content dropped to 25 percent, a decrease of 12 points.

Surprisingly, these numbers were not being driven by millennials. In the past year, baby boomers have emerged as the group spending the greatest amount of time online, with 51 percent (compared to 41) logging 15 hours or more per week outside of work.


Limelight Networks. “The State of the User Experience,” October 2015.

MarketingCharts. “Consumers Still Value Performance Over Content in the Website Experience,” October 26, 2015.