How Website Loading Times Impact User Experience and Hosting Choices

June 17, 2024 / Web Hosting


No matter how great your website is in terms of functionality and content, if it doesn’t load quickly, it can have negative impacts on user experience, SEO and conversion rates. In this post, we look at the psychological effects of slow loading times and how this affects user behaviour. At the same time, we explain the impact of hosting on website speed and give advice on how to make your site load faster.

What research tells us

A detailed study of over 100 million page views, carried out by marketing company Portent in 2022, showed that e-commerce sites with a 1-second loading time achieved an average conversion rate of 3.05%. For every second delay, the conversion rate dropped. Those with loading times of 4 seconds had a conversion rate of just 0.67% – a drop of around 75%. The study went on to illustrate the potential financial impact of this, showing that if both these sites had 1000 visitors, each looking to purchase a £50 product, the faster site would earn £1525 while the slower site would only earn £335. In effect, the 3-second difference between the two site speeds would lose the slower website £1190.

To understand why this happens, we need to examine the impact of site speed on users and how this affects their behaviour.

International audience? Read: Global Impact of International Dedicated Servers on Website Load Times

The psychology of site speed

One of the major impacts of slow-loading websites is that they can increase user stress. Users will already have gone through the process of typing in search terms, scrolling through results and reading snippets. They may have also visited other sites before yours. By this stage, pages that take too long to load can make those users increasingly impatient and frustrated. As a result, they may find it stressful to read your content or make a purchase – especially if every page they visit takes a long time to load. Instead, they’ll abandon the website and look elsewhere.

According to SEMrush, people form an opinion of your website in just 0.05 seconds . This means loading times can have an immediate effect on users’ first impressions of your site. With high-speed broadband and 5G networks, today’s digitally savvy consumers expect pages to load almost instantaneously. If they don’t, they can perceive the site (and your business) as being unprofessional, unreliable, outdated and poorly maintained – or even worse, suspicious and untrustworthy.

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The impact on user behaviour

When they experience slow loading times, users often abandon sites quickly, sometimes before the first page has even finished loading. According to Forbes, 40% of users will leave a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load . If all pages load slowly, there will be continual drop-offs as visitors navigate through your site, including those that will even get to the checkout and abandon their shopping carts before paying.

Additionally, users don’t generally hang around for as long on slower sites. They visit fewer pages and spend less time engaging with content. For businesses, this means that important content doesn’t get read, conversion goals (e.g. trial membership sign-ups or contact form completions) don’t get achieved, and sales don’t take place – all because your site doesn’t meet expectations.

Businesses should also be aware of how slow loading times affect SEO. As page speed is a ranking factor for Google, Bing and other search engines, slow websites can find themselves ranking less well in search results. The impact of ranking position on clickthrough behaviour is staggering. According to Backlinko, while the #1 position sites on Google have an average 27.6% clickthrough rate, users only click on 0.63% of websites listed on the second page . As a result, slow-loading websites could be missing out on significant numbers of visitors.

Why web hosting matters for site speed

Your choice of web host and hosting solution can have a huge impact on the loading time of your website. While many businesses opt for low-cost shared hosting solutions, these hosting plans don’t always offer the fastest web speeds. With many websites sharing the resources of a single server, those resources are naturally limited. Moreover, the performance of your site can be affected by the activities of others – if many sites are busy, it can affect how well every site performs. The nature of shared hosting also means that the server has to be configured for general use rather than for the needs of your site, another factor that can affect speed.

To dramatically improve loading times, upgrading to a solution that is not shared with others can provide significant benefits. Indeed, not only do virtual private servers (VPS), dedicated servers and cloud servers all offer exclusive server resources; they also offer far more storage, processing power, memory and bandwidth than shared hosting. In terms of upgrading, the highly affordable VPS is the standard next step up for websites that need bigger, faster and more reliable hosting solutions. Like a mini dedicated server, but at a fraction of the cost, they are ideal for businesses that have outgrown the limitations of shared hosting.

However, it’s not just the choice of solution that can affect website loading times, it’s also the choice of web host. Not all hosts provide the infrastructure to deliver the reliability, high performance and fast loading that modern websites demand. For instance, servers equipped with the latest Intel Xeon processors, ample RAM and blisteringly fast NVMe solid-state drives (SSDs) can massively outperform servers built with older hardware. At the same time, reliable web hosts will use other methods to boost site speed, such as caching, load balancing and server optimisation. For companies serving customers globally, the use of international dedicated servers, located in different countries, can help speed up websites by reducing latency. Choosing a host that offers these solutions can make a world of difference in making sure your website always loads quickly.

For more, read: Why Your Website Needs NVMe SSD-powered VPS Hosting

Tips for boosting site speed

If your site is loading slowly, there are a number of measures you can take to speed it up. The starting point is to check how well your site is currently loading. The free PageSpeed Insights tool provides you with this data, as well as information about the issues affecting your site speed and suggestions on how to address them.

Additionally, you can implement various other measures like caching, compression, image optimisation and minification, as well as getting rid of unused or unnecessary plugins. All of these are quick and easily achievable ways to help your site load faster.

Sticking with shared hosting? Read: How to Speed Up Shared Hosting Websites


The speed at which your web pages load has a direct impact on user behaviour. Fast-loading sites enjoy more visitors, longer visits, greater engagement with content and increased conversion rates. Hopefully, from reading this article, you’ll have a better understanding of the psychological effects of slow-loading times and will have a clearer idea of how to address any site speed issues your website has.

Give your website the rocket power it needs to boost loading times. For VPS equipped with NVMe SSDs and Intel Xeon processors, check out our Managed VPS Hosting options.


  • Niraj Chhajed

    I'm a SEO and SMM Specialist with a passion for sharing insights on website hosting, development, and technology to help businesses thrive online.

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