You don’t have to look too far for statistics that show how important a fast website is. The biggest issue your business website faces is getting traffic, the second biggest is keeping that traffic. If your site takes more than 4 seconds to load, you lose 25% of visitors before they even see your site, as we discussed in a post a few months ago on website maintenance.
Measuring how fast your site is remains a vital element of your ongoing digital strategy. In truth, this task starts in the design phase. That amazing video might look awesome on your home page, but if it means the page takes 7 seconds to load barely anyone will stick around to see it.
The human element is not the only reason to keep things nippy. The search engines too will penalise your site if it takes too long to load.
Now you know why website speed is so important, let’s take a look at what you can do about it.
Bake speed into the design.
Working with an experienced website creation specialist, take some time to discuss speed. Bring the designer, developer and hosting partners into the discussion as well. By making sure speed is kept as a key consideration you can be sure of better results.
If you’re creating your own site be sure to understand the effect that the underlying code of a site has on your page loading time. It’s not just about keeping images small and enabling compression. It’s about looking at what the code on your site does, where links go to fetch information and what outside resources are being called upon (fonts, API’s and tracking code are all examples of this).
By keeping all this under control, you stand a much better chance of a well performing site.
Treat each page individually
Depending on the nature of you site, it’ll be unavoidable that some pages will take longer to load. It’s more important that your homepage and landing pages load quickly. This means careful consideration of how you’re going to present these pages from a design perspective. Remember you can have clear links and calls-to-action to other, more data heavy, pages. As long as the actual landing page loads quickly, you’re in with a chance.
How to measure speed.
There are a number of elements to how quickly a web page loads. The content on the page, the actual code, the server response time and network factors all influence how quickly a site loads. Tests range from measuring the most simple of these elements to more complete sweeps. Some free testing tools are :
A very Google centric tester. Gives you a concise report with links of how to improve speed. Great from an SEO perspective but a little lacking if you’re looking for something more technical.
More fully featured, this test shows tests ranked as both a grade (A-F) and as importance of issues. This makes prioritising what to work on a breese.
A useful element to this tester is that it provides both a “Waterfall” analysis (which shows the order and series of events) and lets you look at global (geographical) times to load the page. This means, if you have international users, you can fine tune to particular countries.
So, to recap. Firstly, design speed into your creation process. Plan the site, particularly landing pages, carefully. Make data heavy pages ones that you know users will wait for; rather than the first pages they visit. Test, and retest, your site and keep a track of performance.
Following this prescription can ensure your site doesn't suffer the issue of slow performance. I ensure all the sites I create are as fast as the spec allows. By all means contact me for a chat about your own site.