Those of us old enough to remember the days of dial-up internet can see just how far we’ve come over the past couple of decades. Today, connectivity is better, more reliable, and speedier than ever before. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the digital experience as a whole. The internet may be faster, but websites often aren’t. For the average user, the online experience still feels a little sluggish.
Because as connectivity has improved, designers and developers have taken advantage of this extra speed to implement enhanced new website features. So the benefits of the extra speed become lost. It’s a bit like feeling cramped in a small apartment, so you buy a bigger house. Then in the big house, you have all this additional space, so you buy more stuff to fill it. Eventually, you feel cramped again!
It’s the same when it comes to the web. A report from across the pond shows that, in 2010, the average internet speed in the US was 5Mbps. At the same time, the average load time for a website was 6 seconds. Almost 10 years later, the average internet speed had rocketed to 33Mbps; a 560% increase. The average load speed, however, increased by 16%, rising slightly to 7 seconds.
That’s why, here in 2022, speed is still the hot topic on everyone’s lips. But there’s still one problem: most business owners see speed as a box-ticking exercise. In reality, it’s much, much more than that.
In May 2020, Google rolled out one of the biggest speed-related updates the world had ever seen: Core Web Vitals. You can read more about Core Web Vitals in our blog, but essentially they’re a set of metrics which determine whether a website is performing well in terms of load time and page speed.
The problem is that, as Core Web Vitals was introduced by Google, it’s naturally very closely related to search engine visibility and SEO. And so, many site owners today view speed improvement simply as something that needs to be done in order to maintain their position in the SERPs.
It’s more than that. We need to move away from this idea that improving site speed is only important for meeting SEO criteria. We need to start exploring the underlying, long-term benefits of a faster web. We need to realise that a faster web isn’t just nice to have; it’s better for everyone.
What do we mean by that? Let’s take a look…
The obvious point, of course, is that a faster web is better for users. Yes, today’s users want to visit engaging websites, but they also become frustrated when sites take too long to load. In fact, an additional 3 seconds in load time can cause 32% more visitors to give up and abandon their visit. For any business wanting to not only drive traffic to their site, but also encourage visitors to stick around, building a positive online user experience must be a priority. And speed plays a huge role in that.
If a faster web is better for users, then it naturally becomes better for businesses, too. The more positive an experience a user has on a speedy website, the higher the chance of a conversion, and a sale. And, of course, while speed isn’t just about SEO, we can’t afford to overlook this benefit. Speed is a known Google ranking factor, which means that faster sites are typically rewarded with better positions in the SERPs. This boosts visibility, helping businesses to attract more customers.
Over the past few years – and since the global health crisis especially – we’ve all come to rely on the web more than ever. Employees are counting on it to work remotely and earn a living. Children were – and still are – relying on the web to learn, develop, and reach academic milestones. Patients are relying on it for health monitoring and appointments. Our future is in digital hands. When our education, skills, employment, and health depend on speed, we need to ensure sites load quickly.
Did you know that the average web page is responsible for 0.5g of CO2? This means that, with 10,000 page views per month, your website could be contributing 60kg of carbon to the atmosphere every year. The more complex a website is, the longer it takes to load. And the longer it takes to load, the more energy it consumes. A simpler, faster website that loads quickly requires less energy. This makes it a powerful tool for cutting the carbon footprint of the web, and protecting the planet.
It’s clear to see just how many people could benefit from a faster web. So how can site owners make their websites speedier? The obvious answer is to make them simpler. And some are taking this very seriously. Consider the website of the Musk Foundation, for example. A white background, with just 33 words. That’s it. It’s clean. It’s simple. It’s fast. It’s technically good.
But we’re not all Musks. We can’t all produce a 33-word website and get by on our name alone. For the vast majority of us, we need to be able to offer more of an engaging experience. So instead of just asking how we can make the web faster, we need to be asking a different question: how can we make it faster without compromising on the user experience?
We talked in detail about ways to improve site speed in a previous blog. But ultimately, it’s about making the smartest possible decisions in every area of web development. Right through from coding to hosting to maintaining. And at Freestyle Internet, that’s exactly what we’re here for.
Building a faster web that doesn’t compromise on experience requires creativity. It means finding new, innovative ways to communicate with visitors and provide them with a great onsite experience, without all the bells and whistles. Our mission is to help you transform your existing website into a faster, efficient, optimised digital asset that works for you, your users, and the world.