We all know that a business needs a website in order to function in whatever industry it is part of. If we can use the analogy of competing in a race, it is like earning a place to compete against others. But competing in a race isn’t the same as winning the race. If you are slow, and do nothing to increase your speed, not only are you running the risk of coming last, you are also ensuring that you will never come first, second, or even third. If it isn’t already painfully obvious, we are talking about website speed.
Having a fast site doesn’t only improve conversion rates. It decreases the likelihood of visitors fleeing the scene before they even get a chance to view any content at all. In other words, it reduces the “bounce rate.” How does it do this?
Search Engine Optimisation
When people search for your website via a search engine, where your site ranks in the search result determines how many people even find you to begin with. This ranking can be improved via a process known as search engine optimisation.
The webmaster has a huge bag of tricks that they use to achieve optimisation, and if done right, google will look at the website, see that it ticks a bunch of boxes, and place the website in question higher in search results. One item in that bag of tricks? Speed optimisation.
No-one Likes Waiting
As internet users, we are all spoilt. We hate waiting more than a few seconds for a website to load. We have such an aversion to it, fifty three percent of us will simply give up and leave if loading time exceeds three seconds. This has been shown via surveys and studies, and the percentage goes up significantly every second above those original three. If the site takes ten seconds to load, the bounce rate will go all the way up to 123%.
Seeing as the average loading time for mobile websites is 15 seconds, if you can shave any time off your own site’s loading time you are already giving yourself an advantage. But if you want to really be a competitor, getting it below three seconds is required. How can this be done? Let’s find out!
Minify files – The term “minify” simply means to go through a file’s code and delete redundant and un-needed mess. This includes unnecessary line breaks, spaces, indentation, characters, and basically anything that isn’t needed in order for the file to run properly.
Reduce image file sizes – The files on website pages that take the most time to load up are the image files. Making them lighter in weight is as easy as compressing them. There are image optimisation plugins that do this for you, with no loss in image quality.
Have less page redirects – When a landing page redirects a user to a different page, it is often because pages have been deleted or moved. Instead of having a broken link, there is an instruction to redirect the user to a different page. The problem is that each redirect adds a tiny fraction of a second to the loading time. What better reason for having as small of a number of them as you can?
Prioritise Above the Fold Content – If you can code your website’s pages so that they load a small amount of content first, the user will be able to see your page as fully loaded before it actually is. While they begin reading or looking at images, the rest of the page can still be loading, and the user will be none the wiser. How is this done? WordPress has a variety of plugins that allow you to use this method.
Use Browser Caching – Instead of a visitor to your site having to wait for it to fully download every time they come to your website, you can enable browser caching. It will make a copy of the website’s files and store them on the device being used to access the site. Next time they visit, a lot of the site will already be on the phone, making loading time faster.
Instead of Using Images, Use SVG’s (Scalable Vector Graphics) – SVG’s differ from jpeg and png images in that they have infinite resolution. They achieve this by being made up of math equations rather than pixels. If there is no need for a transparency on the image, or the image is very detailed, jpegs or png’s are the best option. But for simple flat images with transparencies, an SVG file will be smaller. How does it reduce HTTP requests? They can be embedded into your HTML, while images of the pixel formats will need to be referenced externally.