A strong online presence is all about providing excellent user experience. A crucial part of it is page speed, which is the amount of time a web page needs to load and display information on a user’s browser.
These days, with lifestyles more fast-paced than ever, every second counts—especially so with doing business on the web. People may have 10 seconds to spare if you want to talk to them face to face, but most just don’t have the patience to wait that long for a web page to load.
Page speed: Why you can’t ignore it
Page speed is crucial for staying ahead in the realm of web marketing, and here are the reasons why every second counts when it comes to a website’s loading time.
- Page speed is a ranking factor in Google since 2010. While it doesn’t bear much weight as the relevance of a page and its content, it’s still essential to seamless user experience—which is what you and top search engine Google are aiming at in the first
- Page speed compels people to stay or jump ship to a competitor’s website. 30% of internet users will abandon a page if it doesn’t load within six to 10 seconds, while 15% will click on the close button if a page doesn’t show up in one to five seconds. Clearly, all the effort you put in your website will all be for nothing if it’s not delivered to users in a quick and timely manner.
- Page speed affects conversions and behavior of online shoppers. A one-second delay in your page speed can result in a 7% decrease in conversions and millions of lost sales in a year. Furthermore, most online shoppers expect a retail or travel website to load in two seconds and 40% will not wait for more than three seconds before abandoning a slow loading web page.
- Page speed affects your reputation. 44% of online shoppers will let others know about a bad experience online.
Ways to Improve Page Speed
Clearly, your website doesn’t just need to look good and provide quality content or information, it also needs to load fast to make people stay. If your web pages are not loading fast enough, here are ten workarounds you can do to boost your site speed:
- Use tools to determine what’s causing the lag in your loading time.
Tracking your page speed is essential in detecting any delays in loading time and conducting necessary action. Tools such as PageSpeed Insight can gauge your website’s page speed and recommend appropriate solutions to help address the issue.
- Improve server response time.
Server response time should be less than 200ms, as per Google. It refers to the amount of time that a server takes to respond each time a browser sends a request.
There are a couple of things you can do in order to speed up server response time. First, you need to look into the factors that affect how long it takes for a server to respond such as website traffic, website resource usage, website server software, and web hosting. Determine which areas need improvement or adjustment. You can just implement changes with configuration or upgrade your servers as you see fit.
There are services that can help configure your server response time and provide upgrades. However, if you don’t have the resources for paid services, you can try and do it on your own. It may require more time and work, but it can be a good way to learn the ins and outs of your server and website.
- Clean up your code.
- Make images smaller.
Images can make your website look visually interesting and appealing, but if they’re oversized, they can slow down page speed. Avoid images that are too big for your page width and resize them prior to uploading.
The image format is also crucial. Images in JPEG formats are widely accepted. PNGs and GIFs can also be used, but they may not be suitable for older browsers or complicated images. Meanwhile, BMPs and TIFFs are not advisable for web use.
- Streamline web design.
Each component of your website such as images, style sheets, and scripts need an HTTP request. The more HTTP requests needed, the slower your page will load. So simplify your web design and keep the elements to a minimum.
Some of the ways to make your website leaner are to use CSS instead of images, compile stylesheets into one and reduce scripts. Remember, a good web design in not the one that has the most intricate elements. It’s being able to deliver all the necessary information without going over the top both in visuals and elements to the point of slowing down your site speed.
- Compress your pages.
Large pages may take a longer time to load, especially if you’re displaying high-quality content that’s sized at 100kb or more. Compression is one of the effective ways to keep your web page from loading sluggishly. It helps reduce bandwidth and HTTP requests. One of the common tools for compressing pages is Gzip.
- Get rid of unnecessary plug-ins.
Plug-ins can add functionality to your website, but too much of them can affect page speed, cause crashes, and result in other technical problems. Sort your plug-ins and eliminate the unnecessary ones, so that your website can function more smoothly without the unnecessary baggage of elements that are not really needed.
- Allow browser cache.
Making your page load faster for first-time visitors is crucial, but you also need to make it show up quickly for users who are coming back. One of the effective ways to do so is through caching.
Through caching, users who are revisiting your website will not require another HTTP request to the server, which helps reduce loading times.
The cache lifetime of any component in your website will depend on what kind of element it is. Widgets and ads are usually set to last for a day, while static resources can last longer, typically for a week.
- Index your database.
A database is a place where website information is stored. If you have any internal search feature, you need to add an index so that your database can return information faster, especially to users who inputted a query.
- Consider Content Delivery Networks.
Content delivery networks save a copy of your website on different servers located in various parts of the globe. This way, your site will load faster regardless of where it is accessed and the proximity of the searcher from you.
For instance, you’re from New York and your website is created there. If it’s accessed by someone in downtown Manhattan, you can expect the page to load fast even if you’re using a single server, because data wouldn’t need to travel far. But if it’s accessed by someone from Europe, it would take slower to load if the data would just come from your server in America. But when your website information is stored in content delivery networks, the website will load just as fast regardless of where it is being accessed.
Page speed will boil down to user experience because if you ace that, conversions and good search engine ranking will naturally follow.