Get up to speed with today's consumers
In today’s fast-paced world, consumers expect instant gratification. They want it and they want it now. Fast access to your website is no exception. If visitors are forced to wait for your sluggish website to load, they’ll bounce and go to one of your competitors.
Below, we’ll dive into the impact of a slow site on your visitors, how to test your site’s speed, the root causes of sluggishness, and actionable steps you can take to improve your website’s speed.
How is your website speed impacting you and your visitors?
- Stress. Ericsson correlated slow mobile loading times with levels of stress similar to watching a horror movie or solving a difficult math problem. Your website visitors don’t want that kind of stress, nor will they tolerate it.
- Lost Traffic. The BBC conducted a study on their website and found that, for every additional second of load time, 10% of traffic was lost.
- Lower Ranking. BackLinko analyzed over a million search engine results pages on Google and found that the average page load speed for any given website was a huge factor in ranking higher. More specifically, they found that the top ranking sites on the first page of Google all had site speeds under 3 seconds.
- Lost Conversions. When traffic is down, so are the desired actions you want visitors to take. Pinterest improved their perceived load times by 40%, and saw a corresponding traffic and signup rate increase of 15%.
And there’s plenty more research data where that came from.
How to test your website's speed
How can you test whether your website is slow like a slug? There are a few trusted benchmarks out there worth taking a look at, but take these reports and results with a grain of salt. Many of the available tools are dependent on things outside of an agency or business owner’s control, such as a website viewer’s geographic location, the browser from which you’re running these tests, and the type of device from which you’re running the test (mobile phone, tablet, desktop/laptop computer, etc.).
With that warning in mind, check out the following tools to analyze your website:
- GTmetrix is one of the better-known tools out there and is fairly independent of Google’s ranking factors.
- Pingdom is somewhat similar to GTmetrix, has been around for quite some time, and may serve as an additional data point.
- Lighthouse is built directly into the Chrome browser, but also has an online version that some may find more user friendly. It comes straight from Google and ranks your site against the typical 90th+ Percentile of all websites.
- Google’s “Mobile-Friendly” Tool is not strictly relegated to site speed, and will give you more insight into how well your website is set up for Mobile Devices.
Let's fix that sluggish website.
Causes of sluggish sites
In order to fix a website’s sluggishness, you need to understand the root cause(s) of the speed issue. Many factors play into making a website fast or slow — imagery, video, how the code of your website is loaded and utilized throughout your site, and the website server itself.
How to improve your website's speed
- Compress and optimize your images. If you’re on WordPress and want to save time, we recommend the Smush plugin. For those on a Shopify e-commerce site, there’s Crush pics app. For those who wish to avoid plugins, check out tools like Compress JPEG.
- Use Browser Caching. This method works by saving previously loaded resources so reload is required for return visits. If you’re on a WordPress site, you can try W3 Total Cache plugin.
- Minify your code. Minifying code entails cleaning it up. It’s taking out spaces and unneeded characters from your code so your site loads faster. If you’re on a WordPress site, you can install the Minify html plugin directly on your website.
- Imbed videos correctly on your website. Videos can be fantastic for website engagement and performance and do not inherently slow a website. What matters is how you choose to imbed them. Self-hosting gives you more freedom and no ads but it will take longer to load than external videos. We recommend external video players like YouTube. To minimize slow-down, work with an experienced developer to limit the number of HTTP requests the browser has to make to load your website.
The bottom line about slugs
Time is money and your website is no exception. Your website should load fast, feel snappy and responsive, and get visitors the information they need and get it to them quickly. Doing so gives you the best chance at capturing and converting leads into customers. Fall behind on speed and you’ll fall behind on business
Be careful not to overcorrect and have a speedy website that’s so bare that it fails to engage visitors.
While it’s generally true that the more streamlined and efficient a website’s design is, the quicker it may load. But that doesn’t mean your website can’t enjoy all the modern bells and whistles. It just means that your site must be created in a manner that takes performance into account, and is built by experienced individuals that know how to optimize a site for speed and efficiency.