You’ve spent hours getting every little detail of your site content and design just right, and you finally love the way it looks. But are you neglecting one crucial aspect that could mean the difference between a frustrated user and a converted, happy customer? That crucial aspect is speed. There’s a lot of competition on the Internet. Customers and search engines have expectations, and there’s nothing like a slow site to turn off both. People are impatient and aren’t going to wait around for your website to load, no matter how many gorgeous images it has or how inspiring the content. A slow site will have you shedding potential customers in a hurry.
Why Speed Matters
We’ve come to expect fast results for just about everything these days, and our online searches are no exception. Speedy results are paramount to pleasant user experiences, and the more time people spend on your site, the more sales you’ll make. People like to get their information quickly and will spend more time browsing on an efficient, fast site. If they become frustrated by having to wait around, they may not return. In fact, one study found that 46% of people would not return to a poorly performing website. And we’re not even talking about several seconds: Conversions can decrease by 7% because of just a 1-second delay in load time. Depending on the size of your company, this can translate to noticeable losses. To put this in perspective, if your site usually earns $100,000 a day, you would lose $2.5 million in sales per year—thanks to 1 second. A slow site leaves a lot of money on the table. One study found that around 70% of people abandon their goods in their carts, and the majority said they did so because the page took too long to load. Of course, these monetary losses assume that people are finding your site in the first place. Since 2010, Google has used speed as a factor in how your site ranks in search results. Think you can get by with a slow site, and you’re damaging your SEO, making it harder for potential customers to find you.
How Do You Know If Your Site Is Slow?
You can visit your website to get a general idea of how it’s performing, but to truly understand how it stacks up against others, you need to do some testing. Here are a couple of free online options to get you started:
- Google’s PageSpeed Tools: Why not start with some tools provided by the search engine you most need to impress? PageSpeed lets you know how fast your site is running. More importantly, it gives suggestions on how to fix what’s wrong.
- WebPageTest: This free site tests the speed of your website from different locations around the world. Click here!
- Pingdom: another free site that helps you see speed and also shows a waterfall of what might be slowing you down. You can use it by clicking here
If you’ve site isn’t loading in at least 3 seconds, you should consider an audit with changes to improve your prospect’s experience. Here’s an easy guide to speed up website delivery!
6 Remedies to Speed Up Website Load Times
Now you understand why speed is important. But how do you achieve it without stripping all that’s interesting from your site?
1. Change your server.
As your site grows and becomes more popular, you may need to reevaluate who is hosting it and consider whether it’s time for an upgrade. If you take advantage of a shared hosting site, you’re sharing space with lots of other companies, which can drag down the speed of your site. It may be more expensive, but a dedicated server will speed up your site, leading to more conversions in the long run. If you’re using WordPress as a content management system, a managed WordPress hosting site such as WPEngine.com , SiteGround, or MediaTemple are all great choices! With these, you get built-in backups, staging environments to test, and a great uptime.
2. Explore using a content delivery network.
A content delivery network (CDN) can be useful in today’s global economy. It may be just as likely that your site visitor is visiting your website from some far-flung place across the globe as from your hometown. A CDN essentially puts copies of your website on servers strategically placed around the world. This speeds up delivery for people in different parts of planet Earth and means that someone accessing an American site in India or Scotland, for instance, won’t have to wait for it to download the information from a server way off in the United States. The information will already be in their locale. The hosting sits listed above all have CDN options you can easily add on to your site. If you’re not using one of those, you can get your own CDN via MaxCDN!
3. Pay attention to your visuals.
Visuals can add personality and a little pop to your website. They are a great way to draw visitors in, but if they take forever to load, they end up being a detriment. The HTTP Archive found that 61% of a website’s page weight on a desktop computer is images. But you can’t have a website without some visual interest. Can you imagine arriving at a site with just text? Don’t give up on images; just be selective, and optimize the ones you choose to use. Optimizing Images When you run a scan using the tools above, they provide recommendations on images that need to be resized. Sacrificing a little image quality for load time is fine. There are several free online services, such as PicResize.com, that you can use. another one of our favorites is Compressor.io. Or you can easily resize photos in Photoshop or even Microsoft® Paint. Your goal is to resize the pic for the max size of the image dimensions on the page, at 72DPI. If you have a lot of little images that make up a larger image, use CSS sprites, which combine the smaller images into one. This reduces the amount of trips needed to the server to retrieve images, which can cause delays. Videos are fun to watch, but they can also make your site slow to load, so use them sparingly. If possible, you should host your videos on a dedciated video platform rather than your own site. If you have a lot of embedded videos on a platform not designed for that purpose, your site is going to drag. You can host videos on YouTube.com or Vimeo.com for free in some cases!
4. Watch your code.
5. Check your theme and plugins
Not all themes are created equal. If you chose a prepackaged one for your WordPress site, you might have been more concerned with how it looks than its functionality. But if you’re having trouble with a slow site, check your theme to make sure it’s not the culprit. Some themes are riddled with un-optimized images and questionable coding practices. While you’re at it, get rid of extraneous plugins bogging you down. you can use a plugin like Plugin Performance Profiler. This nifty plugin will tell you which plugins are hogging up bandwidth!
6. Use a caching plugin.
It’s obviously important to make a great first impression with your new visitors, but don’t neglect your loyal ones. Allowing pages to be cached in your visitors’ browsers or in memory on the hosting server will speed up the delivery time for return visitors. They won’t have to download the same pages over and over again. WPEngine, MediaTemple, and SiteGround come with caching built in. If you’re using a different host, I recommend W3 Total Cache Plugin. It’s the Grand-Daddy of all caching plugins!
Keep on Testing
The Internet is always in flux. Just because you’ve made a couple of changes and are happy about how they’ve sped up your site, it’s not the time to relax. You should constantly be looking for ways to shave off some load time here and there to give your visitors the best experiences possible because the best experiences translate to boosted satisfaction and sales. Follow the tips above, and you will be able to satisfy the needs of your prospects with ease!