So, you scroll through your Facebook feed, click on an article, and suddenly it’s like you're back in the dial-up dark ages because the story takes eleventy million years to load. Obviously, the only thing to do is abandon the article. Good news — Facebook loading times just got faster, and it will totally change the way you browse your news feed. Facebook announced the upgrade Aug. 2 after discovering that 40 percent of people abandoned websites they clicked to from Facebook if the sites took more than three seconds to load, especially when browsing on a mobile device.
Perhaps we're getting too impatient in today's give-me-everything-right-now world, but hey, you're busy and you've got no time for cute cat photos that feel like they take all day to materialize. Because, there are a lot of cute cat photos on the internet so you easily find another cat story that loads instantly, and forget all about those sad slow-loading cats.
In the coming months Facebook will rank stories and sites higher in your news feed that have faster loading times whereas the sites that slow your scroll will get demoted to the bottom of your feed, according to a blog post by two Facebook engineers, Jiayi Wen and Shengbo Guo.
The Quick & Dirty On The New News Feed
"For years, we have taken many factors into account to make sure people quickly see relevant stories to them — including the type of device you’re on or the speed of your mobile network or Wi-Fi connection," Wen and Guo explained.
The Facebook engineers noted that a lot of factors will go into how Facebook prioritizes your news feed, including your network connection, and the general speed of the corresponding webpage. "If signals indicate the webpage will load quickly, the link to that webpage might appear higher in your feed," Wen and Guo explained.
In a former life I worked as a copywriter for a web development team, and we spent a lot of time talking about website page weight, which directly corresponds to how fast a page will load when someone clicks on it. Most savvy web developers know that images that are too large, and lots of other tech stuff I'm not going to bore you with, can lead to a poor performing webpage. And, even if your website, or news article, is amazing people will jump ship if they can't access it at the speed they've become accustomed to.
"For example, if you are on a slower internet connection that won’t load videos, [Facebook] News Feed will show you fewer videos and more status updates and links," Wen and Guo said. "And to help load stories faster for people on slow or poor network connection, we prefetch stories by downloading mobile content before someone clicks a link, which we’ve seen can shorten load time for webpages by more than 25 percent."
What all this means for you is a better Facebook mobile experience. The update will roll out gradually over the coming months, so you might not see your new optimized news feed right away. If you happen to be one of the slow-poke webpages people are abandoning, and you don't want to get booted to the bottom of everyone's feeds, Facebook offered some tips to make sure people on their mobile devices can access your content at the speed they want.
While three seconds doesn't seem like a lot of time, consider this: In less than five seconds you can order an Uber or a Lyft; order food from an app on your phone, sign a petition, text a friend, or do a cartwheel. While millennials are the multitasking generation, sometimes we just want to read that freaking article right now because we only have three seconds, and we don't want to have to do cartwheels while we're waiting for it to load.