47% of consumers expect web pages to load in

When Aesop wrote his famous fable he certainly wouldn’t have considered the world wide web. A slow website certainly doesn’t win the race, nor does it win new customers.

A fast loading website is critical to the user experience. We’re all getting more impatient these days and to wait for a website is unforgiveable. When designing your Central Coast website consider the amount of time it will take to load each page. In fact Akamai found 47% of customers expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less*.

The most significant factors that influence the load time of a website are:

  • Large Files
  • Server Location
  • Server Quality
  • Lots of Plugins And Add-Ons
  • Inefficient Site

Large Files

Large files are often images and graphics that take a long time to download. They can also be pdf documents like ebooks.

IMAGES

Try to keep in mind the impact of large images (>100Kb). Either restrict the use of large images or use them strategically. Make sure you always compress the image to save space. There a number of compression programs that remove all unnecessary data from an image so that it maintains it’s quality while reducing its size.

We can often reduce a file size by another 30-60% just by using one of the compression programs.

Also consider the type of image. Using transparencies in an image can considerably increase the size. If you are going to use transparencies try and do it with CSS.

PDFS

Now technically speaking this doesn’t slow down the initial loading time of your page. Unless you’ve embedded it so it displays.

But it is worth noting that if you have a lot of information and its in pdfs only then it will be time consuming for your visitors as they wait for content to download. Its also likely to turn people away from your site.

Server Location

If your site is being hosted on an overseas server than site load times will be impacted. Not only are there large distances to travel but there are also a lot of switches and systems in between and each of these slows down your sites delivery speed.

So what can you do about it:

  1. Host your site on a local server. It may cost more but it will be able to deliver your site content much faster
  2. Use a Content Distribution Network. This allows your site to be cached on servers located near your users. This is particularly useful if you have visitors to your site from around the world.

Server Quality

This can be one of the biggest factors impacting your sites performance. If your site is on shared hosting vs a VPS or dedicated server than your site wont perform as well (at least not consistently).

If your hosting provider hasn’t configured their servers well or their infrastructure than this will also impact your sites performance.

To fix this, use a quality hosting provider. They will cost more but they will also give you better performance. The old adage remains true, you get what you pay for.

Lots Of Plugins And Add-Ons

It’s nice to have all kinds of wicked plugins and site capabilities to show off on your site. The problem is that each of these takes time to load and when multiple plugins are installed there’s no efficiency in how they run.

Its important to pick and choose the plugins that give you a great effect without significantly impacting the performance of your site. For every second your site takes to load, you lose 7% in customer conversions**. This makes that slider plugin very expensive indeed.

There’s a great plugin (kind of ironic really) that helps you workout the impact of different plugins on the performance of your site. https://wordpress.org/plugins/p3-profiler/

Either prioritise their use or look for versions with better performance scores.

Inefficient Site

There are plenty of ways to skin a cat, just as there are plenty of ways to deliver content through a website. It’s just, some ways are better than others.

An easy way to increase your sites speed is to use a caching system. The caching actual happens on the users browser and means each page of your site doesn’t have to be completely downloaded each time.

Another way to tweak the performance of your site is to prioritise the order in which elements of your site load. This works two fold. Firstly, you can prioritise the critical elements of your site that are needed to function before some of the nice to haves. Secondly, you can content that’s below the fold and not immediately visible load later.

A big impact to load times is often through third party sites that are delivering content. This could be with advertising, maps, social media widgets, etc. Make sure you have this load last as they are one of the biggest culprits for slowing your site.

Yet another way to prioritise things is to defer loading javascript on the page. There are a number of tools and plugins to help with this and a great one for wordpress is WP Deferred Javascripts

Summary

Site performance is a significant factor that we all need to be aware of. With such a major impact on users it should always be at the forefront of our minds when we create a site. Particularly as our sites grow in popularity and every user % that we keep on our site has gives us more chance of generating an income from them.

Source:

*http://www.akamai.com/html/about/press/releases/2009/press_091409.html

**http://blog.tagman.com/2012/03/just-one-second-delay-in-page-load-can-cause-7-loss-in-customer-conversions/

Leave a comment