That’s it. That’s how fast your page needs to load before someone gives up and moves on.
Now I realize that this article focuses on retail sites, but this passage is telling:
“The report ranked poor site performance as second only to high product prices and shipping costs as leading factors for dissatisfaction among online shoppers. ”
Even in the field of education, we can consider our visitors as shoppers. Sure, they may not be as impulsive as someone looking to find the best price on an HDTV, but they are accustomed to speed, service and clarity. If they can’t get it, they become frustrated. Frustration leads to a bad brand experience.
So if you only have 4 seconds, consider carefully the size of graphics, the use of fancy widgets and flashy intros. Can you say in one sentence what you’re trying to convey in your flash movie? Now, can you reduce that sentence by half? I don’t think we’re to the point where we need to write like kids write text messages (“LOL U R 2 CRZY”), but we need to write and design with more density of meaning (yours truly included).
Here’s your mantra for the day: “Good design is the practice of subtraction.”