Has the world ended? If you are reading this then I guess the Mayan Apocalypse was wrong. If you're not reading this then I guess I spent my time writing it for nothing and I should have spent these last few days enjoying myself. Personally I was betting on the birth of Skynet more than zombies, but if an apocalypse hits, we probably have nowhere to run, no matter how fast we try.
Speaking of running fast, have you heard any of that chatter that Google uses the speed of your site to help rank your website? It was a rumor in 2009 that was confirmed in 2012. It's now true; your website needs to present its web pages in about 3 seconds.
3 seconds is blazing fast speed for a website, especially an e-commerce site that needs to search through product databases and present results and images. Your website speed will get slower as you add more products to your database. It will also get slower as you grow your website over time. Just like children outgrow their clothes, your website will eventually outgrow its initial programming and hardware. Everything eventually needs to be replaced.
Depending on personal mood, your customers may or may not wait for your website when it starts acting slow. Even the best Mayan calculations could not tell you exactly how long a customer is willing to wait for your website to load. You might not even care if it takes 11 seconds for your site to load.
Through recent studies I've started to notice that you shouldn't be worried about how long customers are waiting any more. Instead it's time to start worrying about how long online applications and other technologies are waiting.
Social share buttons, smartphone applications, mobile web browsers, and URL shortening software all interact with your website. A normal web browser is programmed to wait 120 seconds before aborting an attempt to reach your website. But each one of those other systems is programmed to wait a much shorter amount of time.
Sometimes sharing a link to Facebook doesn't work. Have you ever wondered why a preview doesn't appear when you try to share a link to Facebook? This happens because the website was unreachable or running slow at that exact moment when Facebook tried to reach it. Google+ and Hootsuite both react the same way when you try to share websites that are slow.
Website speed is especially important for mobile internet connections because smartphone already have enough trouble dealing with wireless communications over 3G and 4G. Slow responding websites will aggravate your users.
The coveted 3 second website speed is hard for anyone to achieve without expensive custom programming and fast hardware. Do your best to keep your website's load time speed under 10 seconds.