Take the Load Off Slow Page Loads
The key is "perceived" page load.
Is there a way to entertain customers while a page or object loads? How about give them something to read?
Like the musack you hear while on hold with your bank or cable company, a bit of text can distract a customer and make the wait seem less, well, long. Here's what I spotted online retailers doing...
Tell customers what you're loading
Diapers.com tells customers an interactive display is loading. "Interactive display" sounds intriguing...perhaps intriguing enough to motivate some to be a bit more patient.
Similarly, Anthropologie explains it's loading a global checkout. While one might wonder why that should take longer than 2 seconds, at least there's a promise of something happening rather than a blank page.
Count down your objects
Only the geeky will understand what objects are, but Dell.ca satisfies the "are we there yet?" question as it counts down the objects, 3-2-1.
Make a promise
Pop-ups that show enlarged images and multiple views are used by many top online retailers, but they can take their sweet time to load. DSW promises the load lag is "well worth the wait."
Make them laugh
"Nothing's worse than waiting for a page to load. Except getting cheated on, of course" says Moosejaw Mountaineering.
With the exception of DSW and Moosejaw, I don't think the above retailers' intentions were to entertain, persuade, inform or simply distract visitors while the page loads. But there is opportunity to use value propositions, pieces of "free knowledge" or humorous content in your loading pages/features to reduce the "perceived" page load time. This idea can be explored with user testing.