Time is money – Why website speed matters, and how you can optimize today!
Let’s face it: With the seemingly endless list of tasks that a business owner has to deal with on a daily basis, the speed and performance of your website is probably not your top priority, and who can blame you!? Well, Google, and your customers can!
In fact, close to 50% of users say they will abandon a webpage that takes 3 or more seconds to load. That’s right, just 3 seconds can cost you the sale. This can have major implications for your business, and your bottom line. For example, a 1 second delay in page loading can result in a 7% drop in conversions… ouch!
So, what can be done to improve and optimize your website to keep your customers engaged and converting? In this article, we’ll cover some of the most effective, (and painless) steps that you can take to ensure your website is providing your users with a lightning-fast experience, time after time.
1. Run your website through Google PageSpeed insights.
It’s no secret that Google provides business owners with an incredible suite of tools to gather insights into your website and marketing performance.
One of the most useful of these is the PageSpeed insights tool, which allows you to enter your domain and return a comprehensive report on the PageSpeed performance of your entire website.
The results of your PageSpeed test will provide you with a clear overview of all the factors currently impacting both the mobile and desktop versions of your website.
Many of the results are technical in nature, so it’s recommended that you have a trusted web developer go over the list with you to clarify and explain the process to fix the issues.
2. Optimize Images
The first and perhaps most commonly seen issue with website performance can be blamed on incorrectly optimized images. This issue is especially prevalent in DIY websites, as amateur designers often do not have a good understanding of just how much data even a single image can contain.
This can be a confusing problem however, as each time you resize an image to decrease the overall size, you are also decreasing the quality of the image.
This is where a skilled designer will make use of image editing software such as Adobe Photoshop to strike a perfect balance between image quality, and file size.
It’s a common tactic for designers to simply upload their images at full size, and then to simply resize the image using HTML/CSS. This, however, is not a solution to the issue of oversized images, as the browser will still load the entire image file at full size, and THEN re-scale it according to the HTML attributes.
Instead, your images should be edited to the correct size required on the website, and saved in .JPG format prior to inserting into the website. This will ensure your images are only as large as they need to be, without any excess data to slow your site down.
Image compression can also be used to lower images sizes, without sacrificing quality. This is especially simple when using WordPress plugins such as SMUSH.
Image optimization alone can have a significant impact on the performance of your site, even without any further forms of optimization, and should be your first step in the optimization process.
Minifying involves “stripping” the code behind your website of any unnecessary elements including comments, characters and spacing, ensuring only the bare minimum of code is required to execute the required function. In doing so, the browser is not required to “read” through enormous amounts of unnecessary data, meaning your website loads faster and uses less bandwidth.
Minification is a technical process, so depending on your level of technical knowledge, and what platform your site is built on, it is often best to consult with a trusted web developer on the topic to ensure the minification process is completed properly and does not result in functionality issues.
Luckily, if you’re using a platform such as WordPress, there are numerous plugins that can be used to take care of this task for you, such as Better WordPress Minify.
4. Use Browser Caching
Whenever a user loads your website, the browser must first download all the data within the site prior to displaying the page. This can place significant strain on the server, especially in the case of large websites, and has a direct impact on the speed of your page loading. This issue becomes especially noticeable for users on slower internet connections or using mobile devices.
Thankfully, there’s an easy fix to this issue – browser caching.
Caching works by storing elements of a website locally in the browser when a user visits the page. The next time they return, the browser checks for any page updates, and only re-loads content that has updated since the last visit. This significantly reduces bandwidth, and results in near-instant page loading times.
If your site is on the WordPress platform, again, there are plenty of fantastic plugins that allow you to implement caching, such as Leverage Browser Caching.
For websites built on other platforms or systems, implementing caching will require some technical knowledge, so it’s recommended that you consult with a trusted web developer to discuss the best implementation options for your website.
The Bottom Line
Website performance has become more important than ever, with users becoming brutally unforgiving towards any website that doesn’t provide an efficient, seamless user experience.
It’s critical that business owners are actively monitoring and improving their website performance on a regular basis to avoid costly Google ranking penalties, lost business, and an entire world of headaches!
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? We’d love to hear from you!
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