In today's digital era, establishing a robust online presence is crucial for businesses to thrive and achieve success. A well-designed and user-friendly website can have a profound impact on a company's credibility, customer engagement, and overall performance. To gain insight into the web landscape of Lethbridge, a vibrant city in Alberta, Canada, we conducted an extensive examination of more than 120 Lethbridge business websites.
What were our objectives?
Many factors contribute to a good website. For this study, we aimed to gather tangible metrics that could be compared against current web standards. Considering that over 60% of users access business websites via mobile devices, we focused our tests on mobile standards. Here is the standards we tested for:
- The website must load within 3 seconds.
- The website must meet Google Core Web Vitals requirements, specifically in terms of Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) and First Input Delay (FID).
- Bonus Points: The website complies with WCAG 2.1 AA accessibility standards.
It's worth mentioning that none of the websites we tested belonged to our clients. Why? When developing websites for our clients, we adhere to strict criteria that ensure compliance with these standards. In this study, we sought an unbiased perspective on the performance of other websites. All the websites we tested were from businesses based in Lethbridge.
So, what were the results?
To be honest, it was disheartening to see the results. I already knew that many websites fail to meet these web standards, which is quite astonishing. On average, a website that passes Core Web Vitals experiences a 25% increase in user retention. Moreover, an accessible website that meets Core Web Vitals standards performs better in search engine rankings and enhances the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns.
How long did websites take to load?
Loading time is crucial! Your website needs to load quickly and provide interactivity within two to three seconds. We live in an era of instant gratification, and over 50% of people abandon a website that takes longer than three seconds to load.
So, what was the average load time: 6 seconds. Yes, you read that right – double the current standard.
You might be thinking, "Well, my site loads extremely fast." However, numerous variables affect how a site loads for a visitor. Factors like internet or data speed and a visitor's browser caching information play a role in the loading time of a website.
Google Core Web Vitals Test
Google Core Web Vitals encompasses guidelines crucial for delivering an exceptional user experience on websites. Complying with these guidelines not only enhances your website's user experience but also improves its search engine performance and the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. In our tests for Google Core Web Vitals, we assessed Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) and First Input Delay (FID). We excluded Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) from our evaluation, as meeting that standard often requires specialized expertise.
Out of the 120 websites we tested, a staggering 75% failed to meet Google's Core Web Vitals requirements, while just over 24% managed to pass.
Bonus Points: Web Accessibility
Let's discuss web accessibility. Although it is currently not a legal requirement for websites in Alberta to meet accessibility guidelines, Ontario and the United States have enacted laws that mandate businesses to meet specific requirements. However, let's momentarily set aside the legal aspect and focus on the present – it's 2023, and NO ONE should be unable to access your website based on their accessibility needs. When we tested websites in Lethbridge, only 5% of them met the standard WCAG 2.1 AA Compliance. This revelation was truly shocking. If you're a business owner reading this and you want to ensure your website is accessible to all your customers, please reach out to us today. We can help make your business accessible and inclusive for everyone.
Where do we go from here?
Knowing how your website is actually performing requires the knowledge in what to look for. We have worked with many businesses that had no idea all the things their website was missing, we have even worked with clients who just launched a new site and they found out that many of these standards were not reached. Are you curious about how your website performs? Send me a message and let's help grow your business online today.