A faster website means more customers.
How long do you wait for a web page to load? Three, four, five, maybe six seconds tops? In a fast paced world of 24 hour news, instant streaming video, mobile push notifications and overnight shipping, we all desire to gain access to information immediately. What does this mean for your slow loading website? Potential for losing leads.
According to Google Developers, "Fast and optimized pages lead to higher visitor engagement, retention and conversions". I couldn't agree more. I can't count the number of times I've waited for a website to load only to hit the dreaded back arrow to find another company's website.
Let's talk for a moment about a slow loading website in different terms. Let's take the slow website and turn it into a slow moving checkout line. Ah, now you can relate, right? You're on your way home from work, pick up a handful of items at the grocery store only to be met with a deep and slow moving line. Tick tock tick tock. As soon as you see another, shorter, lane open up you immediately jump lines. This is what your customers are doing when they visit your slow website. Instead of waiting for your site to load so they can get your phone number, they've bounced back to Google, clicked a competitor's website and are now talking to them. Going back to our analogy: your lost customer has dropped all of their groceries on the floor and gone to another store.
With that analogy in mind you can see the importance of a quick loading website. Now take that 5-6 seconds of waiting and cut it way down. This is the amount of patience a customer on their mobile device is willing to wait for a page to load. With mobile traffic increasing worldwide, having a quick loading site is crucial to meeting the demands of your customers.
How To Improve Load Time
Hopefully by now you're asking, "How do I speed up my website? How do I keep from losing clients?". Depending on how old your current site is, the answer might be as easy as having your web designer tweak a few files. Below is a short sampling of several things that will vastly improve the load time of your website.
Make Fewer "http://" Requests
Optimize CSS Files
Use as few styles sheets as possible. If you can combine multiple style sheets into a just one or two, that is optimal. Better yet, if you can minimize this file by compressing all the code, that's even better. Also, place all of your CSS files up high on the page. This allows the page to render all your graphics correctly as soon as the page loads, without any flickering or jumping around the page.
If your designer is using PNG files to build the graphics for your site, have them run through a PNG compression tool like TinyPNG to compress them even further. If there are any JPG files on the site, make sure they are saved for the web and always save them with Progressive loading turned on. Progressive loading allows the image to load on a page in multiple passes vs. waiting for the whole image to load before it is displayed on your site. Another tip for images is to combine several icons/graphics that are used multiple times throughout your website (like social icons or graphical buttons) into a single sprite file. This allows for one image request to be made vs. multiple requests. You can then use CSS to display them appropriately.
Compress Data Using Gzip Compression
Gzip, what's that? Gzip compression is a method of compressing data on the server before it is sent to the browser. Once the data is in the browser it is decompressed and displayed on the page. All of this happens in fractions of a second and can help speed up your website. By using this method of compression, you're effectively reducing the response size by about 65-70%. This translates into a quicker page load.
Leverage Browser Caching
Test Your Website's Speed
To see how fast your website is, use the free Pingdom Speed Test website. Not only will it show you your site's score, it will also give you helpful tips on how to improve the speed of your site. Their tips include leveraging browser caching, minimizing http requests and other performance enhancing ideas we did not discuss here.
With the recent redesign of our own website, one of our major goals was to create a faster page load. Using the techniques we discussed above, we were able to go from a homepage load time of over 1.5 seconds and 48 http requests to an improved 847ms load time and 30 http requests. According to the Pingdom Speed Test test results, our new website now loads faster than 92% of all tested websites. Pretty impressive.
Although optimizing your website for a fast page load may seem overwhelming, they're important for business. Simply put, a faster website will lead to more sales and better client retention. If you're a business owner who needs help optimizing your website, give us a call. Creating fast and beautiful websites is our business.