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Men value a website's speed, while women value its ease of use.

Children won't explore a Web page until it fully loads.

The average teenager has a harder time figuring out how to use a website than the average adult.

Mobile Web users over the age of 45 are more impatient than any other age group when waiting for sites to load.

If any of those findings sound crazy to you, don't worry. When I first came across them, they sounded crazy to me, too. But they come from real studies conducted by reputable researchers, and they illustrate why site owners act at their own peril when they take a one-size-fits-all approach to site design.

Before I get into what site owners and marketers need to do to address their audiences, here's a bit more on research I've come across.

Men and women report different Web-usability priorities

In 2008, researchers John and Ann Pearson conducted a study according to which "one of the key differences related to gender was the relative strength females placed on the ease of use criteria and the navigation criteria as compared to males." According to the Pearsons' research, moreover, males placed significantly higher importance on the download speed of a website.

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Joshua Bixby is president of Strangeloop, a company that provides website acceleration solutions. Joshua also maintains the blog Web Performance Today.