Anthony Herta

Buffering: The Ultimate Buzzkill

mental-bufferingPicture an open newspaper -big pictures, a bunch of text and strategically placed ads. A quick flip of the page or a dart of the eyes can cause those ads to go unseen. With print journalism, there’s no waiting time to access your story. There are no ads that pop up, waiting to be accidentally clicked.

Readers of online stories often encounter frustration when simply trying to view a page. “Pages are slow to load and, once loaded, scroll and display poorly, too often with ads that are more annoying than helpful,” according to Richard Gingras, head of news and social products at Google.

According to a survey conducted by Kissmetrics, over 70 percent of mobile internet users claim they have visited a website that was “too slow to load.” 50 percent also said they’ve either been to a website that “crashed, froze, or received an error,” or had “formatting which made it difficult to read” on their mobile devices.

Not only does this apply to news type websites, but e-commerce as well. In the same study, Kissmetrics found almost 80 percent of online shoppers would likely never visit a site again if they encountered website performance problems.

Website load times can be a real testament to your patience. Kissmetrics found that only 20 percent of online news junkies are willing wait more than 20 seconds for the article to load before they tap the X button. With news sites depending on online ad revenue, a one second page delay could cost a site millions of dollars in annual revenue, Kissmetrics said. Online resources like Page Speed or Google Analytics will give developers a look at how fast their websites load. But ads generate the money.  EMarketer claims that mobile ad revenue reached almost $19 billion in 2014 — and it continues to rise.

Many websites are doing anything they can to keep you attentive on their sites. “As audiences continue to fragment and home pages become less popular destinations,” said  Twitter employee Niketa Patel in Fast Company magazine. “Many newsrooms spent 2015 thinking creatively about how to seize this as an opportunity for new forms of storytelling.”

Website and application software developers is one of the “fastest-growing high-wage occupations in America,” according to Forbes. Currently 728 thousand app and website developers are employed in the U.S. Compare that to only 691,000 police officers and 617,000 lawyers. Online retailers like Amazon and Wal-Mart are among the companies with the highest demand for new developers.

“My hope is that newsrooms continue to align resources accordingly and carve out teams that are specifically creating content or adapting existing content for these experiences,” Patel said.

With innovation in mind, online sources should find ways to make reading a simple story more efficient and less intrusive with ads.


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