The data is in. Site speed matters. And it matters more than you might imagine.
Over the past few years, while web pages have increased in size, connection speeds have stayed roughly the same. That means that today we still face the same frustration – websites that take too long to load and are difficult to negotiate.
It’s a well-proven fact that consumers have no patience for slow-loading sites; they’ll abandon them instantly in favour of faster ones, leading to a loss of potential sales. Site speed also affects search rankings; a slow website is less likely to be found on Google or other search engines.
On the flip side, the faster your site is, the more likely it is that customers will find you, stick around, buy from you – and come back to buy again. The faster you can make your site, the more you’ll gain.
Every second your site takes to load is costing you more visitors, customers and potential sales.
A study carried out by Unbounce discovered that:
Mobile users, needing fast, instant access on the move, are even more likely to bounce. While they’re waiting for your site to load, they’ve no idea if it’s going to take a couple more seconds, precious minutes or even not load at all. They’ll quickly give up and try one of your competitors instead.
Site speed is one of the most important standards your customers expect and demand. They’re far more likely to stick around, and for longer, if your site is faster to load.
A faster site will generally become increasingly accessible and sustainable. It will use less energy as less processing power has to be output by the server. And it takes less data, which means it’s greener.
If you don’t know how fast, or slow, your site is loading, there are some excellent tools you can use to help measure your site’s performance.
Google has a whole suite of speed tools. Of these, Page Speed Insights is a great place to start. You can also use automatic testing tools such as Lighthouse, GTMetrix, Experte or Pingdom to give you insight into your site’s speed and pinpoint areas where you can improve.
You can use these tools to help you improve your overall site performance, but there are steps you can take right now to improve your site speed.
Although there are dozens of factors that can slow down your site, thankfully there are plenty of ways to tackle them.
The total size of your landing page has the biggest impact on site speed. The more assets you have – including images, videos, files and scripts – the larger the page size and the longer it will take to load.
The simpler you can make your site, the faster it’ll load. Simplifying your site will also make it more accessible, so you reach a far wider audience.
Here are some steps you can take to speed things up:
Use automated testing tools such as Lighthouse, GTMetrix or Pingdom to benchmark your site – these will provide an insight into the site’s speed and areas to improve.
High-quality website hosting is important – an excellent host will mean your site is significantly faster; they’re worth every penny.
Use Cloudflare – their free package provides amazing speed, security and reliability improvements.
Make sure cache is in place – decent hosts will have this already, but you can also use software such as WP Rocket, W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache.
Make use of a CDN – they’ll deliver the files your site uses to your customers quickly; a decent host company will have this covered, but there are other options too, such as Cloudflare, Amazon Cloudfront or Fastly.
Optimise your images and use the correct size for the placement – there are lots of options for optimisation, including EWWW, which can also include a CDN for images, Smush or programs that run on our computer, like ImageOptim.
Keep your site up to date – the newer the components on your site, the more likely it is to work with the latest programing languages, which improves speed as well as security.
Most of all, think – do you need a background video, or a full screen image? Can you get your message across with text and styling just as effectively? Simpler is always better.
Increasingly consumers are demanding higher standards of the internet, and rightly so. Site speed and accessibility are two key standards that companies ignore to their detriment.
A faster, accessible website is vital for your business. Simplifying things makes your website perform better and rank higher on search engines so you’ll attract more customers, who will stay longer and be more likely to return.
If you start taking steps to improve your site speed today, you’ll instantly be ahead of competitors that aren’t.
Remember, when it comes to website design – simpler is always best.