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The 8-Second Rule
By Submit Corner
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Overview: If your webpage hasn't loaded within 8 seconds, chances are your users are history.

The need for speed is a key factor on the Internet. Whether users are on a high-speed connection or a low-baud rate dial-up modem, everyone on the Internet expects speed. Furthermore, recent studies show that if your webpage hasn't loaded within eight (8) seconds of a request, your users likely won't stick around. Whether your site is down or too much content is loading doesn't matter to the average user, if they can't access your information within seconds, they'll find it elsewhere. To account for various modem and transfer speeds, see the comparison chart below of typical load times.

Typical Load Times
Typical Web-Page Load Time (In Seconds)
Modem Speed Expected Load Time
14.4k Modem11.5 Sec
33.6k Modem7.5 Sec
56k Modem5.2 Sec
Cable/DSL Modem2.2 Sec
T1 and Above0.8 Sec
Note: These figures are general approximates

Web Page Sizes

Over 65% of US online users are on a dial-up connection every day. Although this number is dropping steadily and switching over to high-speed Internet, a clear majority of users will be accessing the Internet through traditional phone lines. As such, web designers need to ensure that web pages can load rapidly regardless of connection type. Although there is no real tangible means to measure what is acceptable for file size, anywhere between 30-40 kb (including all images, content and other media elements) is a suitable target size. This range covers a majority of dial-up users and all high-speed connections in a reasonable time frame, under 8 seconds.

Speeding Up Load Time

If your webpages are taking too long to load, try some of the following suggestions to cut load time.

  • Cut out unnecessary HTML such as comments, font changes, and table elements that are not needed (More Tips)
  • Use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to control appearance rather than changing fonts and appearance on every page
  • Define the dimensions of every image you use; this way the browser can continue displaying content even if the image hasn't loaded yet
  • Reduce image file sizes (More Info)
  • Split content into more pages

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