Slow websites are not just annoying. A slow website will kill your conversion rate.
How Fast Should Your Website Load?
Studies show that 47 percent of consumers expect websites to load in two seconds or less. In fact, 40 percent will abandon a page that takes three or more seconds. This holds true whether you’re selling a product or a service. Poor performance on a website is something people tell their friends, and most people won’t bother coming back another day if your site is slow.
Speed is a Feature.
Google's famous paper on the subject is a great place to get more information. Per Google, “When you speed up service, people become more engaged - and when people become more engaged, they click and buy more.”
Website speed isn’t just about keeping your customers engaged. Load time is also one of many factors determining where you rank in the search engine results pages. So if you’re spending money to optimize your website for search, be sure to take into account how long it takes for your site to load.
To test your website load time, you can do an easy, free check using this tool at Pingdom. This useful tool not only tells you the load time, but breaks down related data, including some insights, and compares you to others. Go ahead, try it. We’ll wait ….
How to Fix Your Slow Website
Got a bad grade? Here are 10 things you can do (or your web team can do) to speed up your site.
- Minimize HTTP requests.
Part of that Pingdom chart shows you the requests your site receives. Yahoo says this accounts for 80 percent of a page’s load time, which is why this is a good place to start. This refers to downloading all the parts of the page, a separate request for images, scripts, text, etc. So if you have all the elements of your site broken down, that may be affecting your load time.
To minimize the number of requests, go through and clean-up your code. Remove extra formatting, line breaks, indentations, and whitespace. You can also combine some types of files so those load together.
- Use browser caching.
If caching is enabled, a repeat visitor will see images and information loaded from the cache instead of a new pull from the source. This will make the process much faster.
- Use Gzip. According to Yahoo, about 90 percent of Internet traffic travels through browsers that support Gzip. In short, it’s a compression method to reduce file size so that users are downloading much less data. Although gzip requires time to unzip files for the user, it’s often less time than you’d typically use to download the larger file, making it a win for most websites.
- Reduce image sizes.
Speaking of compression, how large are the images on your site? E-commerce site operators know an image can make all the difference when you’re trying to sell products. Consumers want to see pictures — probably from more than one angle. But all those images take time to load. You can either load images to the size you want or compress them (or both). Also, make sure all your images are either jpg unless you absolutely need a png.
- Defer loading.
- Minimize first byte time.
Fans of any type of racing may be familiar with the idea that it takes a moment from the starting bell for people to kick off the start line. Whether that’s a driver hitting the gas pedal or the horse leaping forward out of the gate, there is a moment between our brain hearing “go” and us actually moving. In the web world, this is called Time to First Byte, or TTFB. It’s how long the browser has to wait before getting its first byte of data from the server.
Google says your site should have a TTFB of less than 200 milliseconds (ms). You can use free tools, including Google Developer, to test the TTFB of your site. If your's is slow, first make sure you have a good Internet connection; slowness there will affect this.
Another thing to cause a slow TTFB is dynamic content creation. Many sites these days create information as its requested. If you cache, as mentioned above, you’ve done what you need to do. Finally, you’ll need to check your server configuration. The software your server uses can cause delays, and you can read more about that here.
- Reduce redirects.
If you’ve re-created your website a few times, you might have too many redirects going all over the place. Time for some cleanup! Google recommends keeping these to a minimum and only use when necessary.
- Reduce server response time.
Joe types in the URL for your website. One factor in how quickly your site loads is how long it takes for DNS lookup. Domain Name System (DNS) is the Internet’s version of an address or phone book. The DNS server says, “Oh, you want Imaginovation.net? Here is the IP address where you can find the information associated with that URL.”
- Upgrade your hosting.
Saving money is usually a good thing. For many businesses, shared hosting is the economical option and the go-to when you first launch your site. But as you grow, you might find your shared server space is slowing things down. In that case, it’s time to upgrade to either VPS or dedicated hosting. VPS still shares a server, but with some portions dedicated to only your stuff. Dedicated is all you. The downside: you’ll probably need some technical help with those options, and they cost more.
- Host videos elsewhere.
Just like images, videos are going to take a lot of load time. Instead of hosting these behemoths on your site, upload them to Vimeo or YouTube. You have options for a clean, embeddable player and they will load much faster. You can even reach a wider audience by using these sites. However, both Vimeo and YouTube have some limitations regarding video length and uploads. Paid platforms such as Wistia offer more options, including customizable players.
Even if each of these only saves a few microseconds, this will add up! Contact us if you want a full technical dive into your website speed and how to fix it.