First impressions are crucial in business, and even more so when it comes to your website. While your web design and content are critical to making the right impression on potential customers, the speed of your website is just as important.
A slow website can not only frustrate visitors, but it can also damage your reputation and your bottom line. People access your website for a reason and stay just as long as is necessary to complete their objective. If they get frustrated by being forced to wait, they will leave and disappear back to the search results.
Before we delve into the tips to increase your page speeds, let's go over the basics:
What is Website Speed?
Once a user clicks to access your site, website speed is the time it takes for the page to download, display in the browser, and become responsive to the user.
Why is it Important?
Your visitors are more likely to engage with your website if they can swiftly navigate their way around. If you're operating an e-commerce store, slow page speed at each step of the checkout process will frustrate your users and cause cart abandonment. The faster your elements loads, the more likely your users are to interact with them.
A successful website is focused on conversions. Your page speed has a dramatic effect on conversion rates - the faster, the better. A slight one second delay in page speed can see a 7% drop in your conversion rate
Search engines take page speed into account when determining the ranking of a web page. If you want to appear higher in search engine results, you need your website to be quick to load.
10 Website Speed Optimization Tips
1. Clean Homepage
It is best to keep things short and sweet on your homepage. Cramming in too much content and media will bring your page speed down to a crawl. Be ruthless with your homepage content, keeping only what's necessary, and maintaining a strict organization. This will also help your users to focus on your important content and understand the message you want to communicate faster.
2. Above The Fold
"Above the fold" refers to the section of your homepage that is visible to users as soon as your page loads - without the user having to scroll down. This is the first thing visitors see when they land on your site - making it the most expensive real estate on your website.
Use this space to cover the primary information that your visitors need to know, but don't try and cram in too much. If something aligns with the main message you want to convey, keep it. If it doesn't, move it to another page or place it below the fold.
Being ruthless with your images, graphics, and content doesn't stop with your homepage. According to Magicdust, experienced web designers in sydney, you should be very selective across your whole website, aiming for quality over quantity. Every media element on your website comes with a performance cost. Some web elements are more detrimental to page speeds than others. For example:
Photo galleries: galleries of images, no matter how small the file size, will harm page speed.
Embedded content: content from external sources (Youtube, Facebook) cannot be optimized by your website host and can significantly increase loading times.
Keep performance in mind when adding media to your website. Does it help boost your conversion rate? Is it integral to the message you want to convey? If not, cut it out.
4. Mobile Performance
More and more people are using their smartphones to access the internet, interact with companies, and purchase products. In fact, two-thirds of the world’s population have a mobile phone.
Make sure your website is optimized to perform well on smaller screens. Mobile users aren't as patient as desktop users, so making sure that your web pages are fast to load is crucial - 53% of people will abandon a page if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
5. Check Your Plugins
Too many plugins will negatively affect page speeds. When a user accesses your site, the browser they use has to understand each plugin and how it assimilates with your website. Inexperienced web designers make the mistake of installing every plugin that offers something that might benefit their site. Even worse, they also leave deactivated plugins on their installation.
Conduct an audit of all your plugins. Are they all really necessary? If not, deactivate and delete. You'll increase your page speed, and you can always reinstall the plugin later if you need it.
6. Get Your Website Cached
While unnecessary plugins slow down your website, plugins like W3 Total Cache and WP Rocket can actively speed it up. When a user accesses your site, the plugin caches elements of your webpages for future visits. When the user revisits your website, the elements are quicker to load.
7. Upgrade Your Hosting
Shared hosting is an affordable option for many businesses. However, it comes at a cost to your page speed. The performance of the server is shared by the number of websites using it, which has an impact on how long your site takes to load.
While it might not suit every business and budget, purchasing dedicated hosting will definitely improve your page speeds.
8. Image Optimization
Images are great for engaging visitors and adding visual appeal. They can be crucial when it comes to e-commerce and getting users to convert. The negative side is that they are usually the largest files on your site and take the longest amount of time to load.
You should be highly selective with your images, including only what's necessary for the purpose of the page. Once you've cut back to the essentials, you can use tools and software to compress file sizes without sacrificing image quality.
9. Reduce Redirects
Website redirects create additional HTTP requests, increasing the loading time of a web page. You should aim to limit the number of redirects on your website, and eliminate any that are unnecessary. There are tools like Screaming Frog that can help you identify redirects on your site. Once you've identified them, check to see if they are necessary and remove any that are not.
10. Monitor and Improve
Once you've optimized your website speed, it's essential to monitor and see if it changes over time. There are lots of different factors that contribute to page speed, which means it can easily change over time. Consult with your web designer and run regular tests to catch any issues as they arise, keeping your page speeds optimized and your visitors happy.
The above tips are a great start to optimizing the speed of your website. It's important to note that optimizing your website speed is an ongoing process. Periodically check your page speed and compare it with your competitors to see how well you are performing. Keep your loading times in check, and you’ll keep your website visitors happy.