Neurological studies have shown that badly performing websites increase stress levels in users.

Analysis of volunteers’ brainwaves carried out by consumer experience consultancy Foviance and software firm CA found that users have to concentrate up to 50 per cent more when using a site that is not functioning properly.

In addition, examination of facial muscles and behaviour showed the subjects displayed greater agitation and stress.

The results suggest that having a badly performing website unravels the work of online marketing services, generates bad online PR and could ultimately result in the permanent loss of custom.

Behavioural psychologist and Foviance founder Catriona Campbell said: "Consumers have high expectations of web applications and websites to be always available and instantly responsive."

When these expectations are not met, people quickly become confused and agitated, she added.

According to figures from PayPal, online spending among British consumers is set to top £39 billion this year.

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