Your Site Has 4 3 Seconds To Load Or I Am Leaving

Big hat tip to Thomas Cott for linking to an article about how quickly people will abandon a webpage if it is loading slowly.  The title tells pretty much everything you need to know about the problem – Slow pages hurt conversions, but marketers aren’t in a hurry to fix them.  (my emphasis below)

[Unbounce] then conducted two parallel surveys of consumers and marketers to understand their respective attitudes toward page speed. Nearly 75 percent of consumers surveyed said they’d wait four or more seconds for a mobile site to load. However, Google data show that most people abandon sites after three seconds if content hasn’t loaded.

The majority of survey respondents indicated that slow-loading sites would negatively affect their willingness to buy and even return to the particular site. Surprisingly, women were more impatient than men in this regard.

Interestingly a majority of consumers said they wanted faster-loading sites even it meant giving up animations, video and images. The good news for brands and publishers is that most consumers were more inclined to blame their ISP (50.5 percent) than the site itself (34.2 percent).

Even though people were willing to blame their ISP over the site, that is no reason to think you can get by. Over 1/3 of respondents blamed the site itself. People are experienced enough to have a good sense where the blame lay.

Among the top suggestions for solving this issue are optimizing image and video size; improving caching and hosting and running speed tests.

If you are at a loss for where to even start to learn how to do these things–ArtsHacker has a whole series devoted to this. The impetus for this was anticipated slow downs due to net neutrality rulings by the FCC so there are a number of strategies in that series that you can use. You will definitely find pieces on image compression, speed tests, database optimization and minimizing the impact of page requests.

Granted, some of these procedures should not be undertaken if you are inexperienced working under the hood of your website. By the same token, if you don’t know much about how website traffic works, the articles can give you new information and a better sense of what things contribute to slow downs on your website.

 

Something I am curious about that is tangentially related is how quickly people will abandon a video if an ad they can’t quickly skip starts playing. This doesn’t usually impact videos embedded as performance samples in website that I have seen, but there have been a number of times I decided I wasn’t interested enough in a news piece to wait for an ad to finish.  I suspect I am more patient with those ads than most so it makes me wonder about the long term viability of those ads. Especially as YouTube seems to be getting increasingly insistent in their offers to sign up for their paid service.

CRM Software Isn’t Strategy

Arts Professional UK had a great piece on developing a customer relationship management strategy (CRM). It is chock full of great resources including case studies, guides on how to choose a ticketing system and analyzing the costs of a ticketing system. It got me thinking about approaching Drew McManus about employing his web expertise to write something similar in the context of U.S. arts organizations for the ArtsHacker site.

A lot of the materials from that site appear to absolutely be useful for U.S. non-profits so take a look.

The thing that really caught my eye though was that customer relationship management (CRM) was first coined in 1995 and a lot of arts organizations are just starting to think along these lines nearly 25 years later.

Although technology is really what makes it possible to cross reference and analyze information in an effective amount of time, the heart of CRM is an organization wide investment in using the information to inform interactions with customers.

In other words, it doesn’t matter how sophisticated and informative the analysis produced by a CRM system if staff isn’t using it in decision making and conversations with customers.

As Helen Dunnett writes in the Arts Professional UK piece,

A key factor for success is embracing CRM as a strategic function that is led from the top and not seen as purely a marketing function. Being clear about the end-game and the cultural change that will be needed is important in ensuring the technology is used effectively. CRM isn’t a quick fix: the process requires a fundamental change to the way strategies are planned, budgeted, communicated and monitored. CRM has to become a way of life.

Sure, that is all well and good to say, but cost is pretty much the big factor and this sort of data processing capacity doesn’t come cheap, right?

Yep, you are right and this is how to approach that question according to Dunnett,

Cost is often highest in the minds of many arts organisations when considering an appropriate CRM/ticketing system, but there quite simply isn’t an inexpensive system that will offer the necessary functionality.

Do your research across several system suppliers and work out the cost of ownership over a three-to-five-year period. This is the best time period to test comparative cost-effectiveness,…

This becomes especially important when looking at systems that charge on the basis of a commission on the value of sales. 2 to 3% can sound like a low percentage but you need to be clear about what constitutes a sale

California Symphony–They Speak Your Language

I was excited to see Aubrey Bergauer posted a follow up to her original 2016 Orchestra X post regarding how the California Symphony was acting on the feedback it has received about the concert planning and attending experience. I have written about some of Aubrey’s work since then, but I was eager to see a cumulative reflection.

Unfortunately, her post came in the middle of the holiday production crunch so I only got around to reading it this week.

A couple of really interesting things that caught my attention in this latest post. First was the counter-intuitive value in leaving past events posted on the website. I always want to get the clutter of old information off my website so it is easy for potential attendees to find the information they want. While this is probably an important practice generally, for the California Symphony, leaving that information available helped bolster their credibility. She writes,

1) As the season progressed, this list got awkwardly short, especially for an orchestra like the California Symphony that doesn’t perform as frequently as our bigger-budget peers. Participants told us they couldn’t believe we didn’t perform more often, and it looked even worse when only a few concerts were on that list. 2) As they were trying to “get a sense of what we’re about,” as they said, they couldn’t really tell based on only a handful of upcoming shows

Another thing is that they started running digital ads in both English and Spanish. The Spanish ads have a link to a Spanish language landing page.

That pilot test did lead to a measurable increase in Latinx households, and so we decided to put some money behind developing the new site in both languages. Now, when we run ads in Spanish, we can link to landing pages in the same language, another step in making this important segment in our community feel invited and welcome here, as well as give them the information they need to join us.

This was not new information to me because Aubrey has been reporting her success attracting a broader audience segment on Twitter for a few weeks now.

While she didn’t report on the outcomes of the changes, her discussion of how they adjusted some of the website sections to be outwardly focused rather than inwardly focused gave me something to think about. For example, instead of “Education” as a navigation header they are using “Off Stage” with subheaders focused on kids, adults and artists. They also changed “Support Us” to the more outwardly oriented “Your Support.”

A lot of the work they did was in the area of providing background information both in their program book and website. Their program notes are more about the background of the artists and music than the technical details of the music. They have song clips and information drawn from Wikipedia available online for those who want to know more. They changed their writing style to short bullet points rather than paragraphs.

Aubrey provides the rationale behind these changes based both in research and user feedback so it is definitely worth while to read this recent post.

Which Came First, Creativity or Dishonesty?

With today being Election Day you may be thinking about the need to keep dishonest and problematic people out of office…or at least keeping the more dishonest and problematic people out of office.

Creative and arts oriented people may see their vocation/avocation as a relatively virtuous one compared with that of politicians and other pursuits.

However, four years ago The Conversation wrote about how creativity and dishonesty can have a pretty close association. In some cases, it is almost a chicken and egg relationship as some studies have shown feeling entitled to special treatment can actually boost creativity.

They cite the famous story about the development of Post-It notes as an example of successful dishonesty:

Seeing potential value in the product, Fry reintroduced it to his superiors. They panned the idea, and ordered that he cease working on the project.

Nonetheless, Fry defied those orders and continued with the project. He built a machine to produce the Post-it notes, distributing the prototypes to 3M’s secretaries, who loved them. Fry ignored his managers’ requests, used company property without permission, and bypassed the established protocols of the company – all to pursue his idea.

The author of the article, Lynne Vincent, says that her research has shown that people who aren’t objectively creative, but think they are can develop a sense of entitlement based on the feeling that their ideas are worthy of notice, rule bending, and reward.

As I suggested earlier, what can be somewhat amusing is that dishonesty can actually result in creativity,

The irony is that these negative behaviors may spur more creativity. Francesca Gino and Scott Wiltermuth, a professor at USC, found that being dishonest can actually promote creativity. In this study, participants who cheated on a math and logic task by looking at the answers performed better on a subsequent creativity task than participants who did not cheat. When someone is dishonest, it often requires he or she to break a set of rules; yet this rule-breaking may promote creativity because it allows people to flout convention and expectations

Of course, if you have worked for any length of time in a creative field you know that the willingness to break convention and move counter to expectations is a hallmark of creativity. There can be a fine line, however, between coloring outside the lines and crossing the line where your actions deplete the value of something for others.

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