At one point, you’ve probably experienced it too: you’re browsing through a website, hooked to the point that you’re interested to know more about the product featured there. You’re ready to make a purchase, but there’s one problem—the page is taking forever to load. Irritated, you hit back and do another search. You don’t have the extra few seconds to spare to surf a page that is just too slow to catch up with your attention span and interest after all.
That’s one possible sale lost. One potential customer that you could have possibly earned more from if only you were able to deliver your content faster.
In a world of lightning-fast internet speeds and effortless access to information, it’s understandable that consumers’ attention spans have adjusted. Nowadays, good content is no longer the only factor that rules the game of successful online sales conversion. Speed has a lot to do with it as well.
Page speed refers to the length of time a website loads (in other words, how long it takes for it to fully display its contents). Google has identified page speed as one of the elements it factors in when ranking pages, meaning it has a major role in your SEO game.
Any experienced marketer knows just how important page speed is when it comes to influencing user experience. Pages that load longer result in low average time spent on pages and higher bounce rates, which in turn, negatively affect sales conversion. But how slow is slow really? At what point will a potential customer say that they’ve had enough of waiting?
According to research, users tend to quit a website after three seconds of lag time. And it’s not even a small percentage of web visitors that are lost, too. Based on numbers, there is a 40 percent drop of website visitors after a page takes more than three seconds to properly load.
More alarmingly, these numbers can drastically shift once you bring in mobile users to the mix. As more and more consumers shift from desktop to smartphones, where everything is expected to be more compact and fast, the impact of site speed in retaining customer attention grows even more. Google states that an average of 53 percent of mobile users abandon a page if it takes more than three seconds to load. Just think about that for a second (or three, pun intended). In three seconds, you can lose more than half of your customers and possible sales. That’s a lot of potential losses.
This leaves the question: if speed is the determining factor in making a sale, what can you do then to speed up your website?
There are a number of factors that affect website speed. In this part of this article, we will discuss them and how you can address each. Read on below for the steps to speed up your site:
1. Streamline HTTP requests
A page’s load time is basically affected by the download speed of its elements. That includes scripts, images, and stylesheets for example. Now, an HTTP request is made by EACH of these elements when they’re downloading. That means the more elements and HTTP requests your page makes, the slower it becomes.
It is recommended that you minimize the number of HTTP requests made by leaving only the ones essential to your website. Developer tools like the ones made by Google Chrome can help you see how many requests your page makes so you can trim them down if necessary.
2. Maximize your cache
A lot of content management systems come with plugins that cache the latest version of your web pages. When they are stored in the cache, your page is relieved from the task of loading each page every time a user visits so its elements show up faster. Your cache is also a very helpful tool since you can choose until when you want the information to be stored there. So unless you change the design of your page frequently (which is hopefully, NOT the case), you can store your stylesheets, files, and images there for as long as you want.
3. Lessen your redirects
Similar to page elements, each redirect issues, an HTTP request that adds to your waiting load time and cause a decrease loading times. As much as possible, try to lessen your redirects and put everything where your customers can easily access them. Too many redirects can also cause customer exhaustion easily so it’s best to trim them down as much as you can.
4. Optimize your pages
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it deserves to be emphasized again and again. Clean up your website and make its performance as compact as it could be. For example, make sure that your images are not too large or that you use helpful templates to make them load faster. Learn which file formats are best for web speed, too. For example, PNGs are best for graphics, while JPEGs work better for photographs. Make sure to take the time to optimize your scripts as well by removing unnecessary formatting and unused codes.
5. Compress, compress, compress
Working with big script files? Consider using file compression tools that can help make them more compact. Pros recommend files larger than 150 bytes to be compressed for better page performance.
6. Defer your scripts
7. Consider the byte
The length of time your page loads is not the only thing you should be considering. Time to first byte (TTFB) refers to the length of time a page takes before getting its first byte of data, aka when the page actually starts loading. According to Google, the ideal TTFB should be lower than 200 ms, so make sure to meet this quota for better page turnover.
The way consumers use and access information have greatly affected the way they purchase products. In a tech-powered world where things and trends move so fast, keeping in speed with the ever-changing demands of users is necessary to remain relevant in the market.