With another year winding down, it’s time for us to take stock of how our site performance compares to the average page load times for 2020. Similar to our article Average Page Load Times for 2018, we’ll go over the averages for metrics and help you determine if your site is faster or slower than average.

Mobile Page Speed Graph
Source: ThinkWithGoogle

As you know, there are many metrics that determine a website’s page speed, and we can’t look at just one of them to determine how performant our site is. By analyzing the data from Backlinko.com and their Page Speed Stats article written by Brian Dean, we’ll look to answer these questions:

  • What size should be a website be?
  • How fast is the average page load time in 2020?
  • What is the number of resources I should stay under?
  • How fast is the average time to first byte (server delay)?
  • What impact does the increased use of mobile devices have?

Mobile is still the top priority

In 2017, mobile internet usage passed desktop as the majority. 3 years later, this is still the case with 53% of website visits coming from mobile devices. Projections for the next few years expect the mobile market share to increase as mobile devices become more powerful and more prevalent.

Mobile vs desktop stats

Unfortunately, the data from Backlinko paints a bleak picture when it comes to mobile internet browsing. They found that the average web page takes 87% longer to load on mobile vs. desktop. In addition, the average desktop Time to First Byte (TTFB) speed is 1.28 seconds on desktop and 2.5 seconds on mobile. Finally, they found that the average time it takes to fully load a webpage is 10 seconds on desktop and 27 seconds on mobile.

Obviously, the key phrase there is ‘fully loaded’. A lot of that time is behind the scenes scripts, tracking software, advertisements, etc. These are things that are loading in the background, even though you are able to interact with the page well before that. So what’s the problem if the user doesn’t notice it? It’s still a drain on the visitor’s device battery and data plan. Cumulatively, it’s a huge drain on the world’s resources, as we discuss in this article.

What is the average page load time for 2020?

For this section, we’ll be using the perceived loading time, or speed index. This is how quickly the user sees the page load, but doesn’t include any extra background loading. This is the metric that many focus the most time on because it’s the easiest to translate into user experience.

In the study, the average Speed Index speed is 4.7 seconds on desktop and 11.4 seconds on mobile. Google’s best practice is to have a speed index under 3 seconds. Where does your site fall?

What is the average size of a webpage?

The importance of this cannot be overstated. Of the over 5 million websites that were analyzed, the overall page size was found to be the number 1 factor in ‘Fully Loaded’ page speed.

According to HTTPArcive and their page weight report, the average size of a website is 1.966 Mb for desktop and 1.778 Mb for mobile at the time of writing. Google’s best practice is to be below 0.5 Mb.

What is the average number of resources?

For mobile devices, it was found that the total number of resources (the number of files your page needs to load to display) is the biggest factor for a good time-to-first-byte. Even on desktop, where page size makes a slightly bigger difference, we want to make sure our website can make as few requests as possible, as each of them adds time to our load.

The current average for desktop is 75 requests, while mobile comes in with an average of 70 requests per the page weight report. These numbers are actually down about 8% from the year before, so this is an area where there is some significant improvement being made across the web. However, Google’s best practice is to keep the number of requests below 50, so there is still work to be done.

How long is the average server delay?

One of the many site speed metrics we’ve explained is Time-To-First-Byte. TTFB measures the time that elapses between when a user requests a site, and when that user’s browser receives the first bit of information. It is typically reduced via server-side optimizations, such as enabling caching and database indexes. Often, the hosting provider that you choose also plays a large role in whether or not you have a good TTFB.

In the analysis, the average TTFB speed was found to be 1.28 seconds on desktop and 2.59 seconds on mobile. Google’s best practice is to achieve a time under 1.3 seconds. This is actually being accomplished on average for desktop, but mobile still has some catching up to do.

machmetricsinfo 1

How do you test your site against the best practices?

Now that we know where the average website falls, it’s time for you to test your own site. If you’re below average, great! However, we really want to strive to be under the benchmarks that Google sets as a best practice. This is a win-win as it makes your users happy, and makes sure you’re looked favorably upon by Google. After all, you definitely don’t want to be on the receiving end of their badge of shame!

There are many resources you can use for this, and it may even be best to use a combination of them:

  • WebPageTest: The industry standard for measuring site performance – results are collected from real browsers running common operating systems.
  • Google PageSpeed Insights: gives you actionable insights about the best way to optimize your webpage speed.

We suggest that you also track your site’s metrics over time (and we built our services to meet that need). After all, your site’s speed will obviously fluctuate over time. Plus, you need to make sure you can be alerted if anything is wrong with your site. Consider these services to meet these needs:

  • MachMetrics: professional site speed monitoring – schedules tests for your URLs from various regions and devices and summarizes the results.
  • SpeedCurve: monitor front-end performance

Make sure you’re better than the industry standard for page load times in 2020

As you can see from the first graphic in this article, each second makes a huge difference in bounce rate. If you know that you’re better than the average site, that’s a huge advantage for you. Even better if you’re under Google’s best practice benchmark.

With the start of a new year (and decade!), it’s time to put more effort than ever into making sure that your site beats industry averages.

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