How to meet the need for site speed optimisation
The web is rapidly evolving and as websites adapt to be more user-friendly, mobile responsive and interactive, user expectations are also changing.
As consumers, we have all become savvy searchers, scouring the web for that particular product or service and if we don’t find it quickly enough then we bounce to another site with a simple tap of our thumbs.
Web users expect a seamless experience and therefore, site speed is important. Site speed optimisation should be a top priority to ensure you are not losing customers at the first hurdle.
In fact, web users expect to see a website within 2 seconds, once they have clicked, and when it comes to an e-commerce shop, 1 in 5 shoppers would abandon their cart if the process was too slow.
When building a website, there are lots of elements to consider but most of the creativity in the design revolves around user experience. If the user experience is good then this should boost traffic and ultimately revenue for your business. Therefore, a faster site could mean a fuller basket.
There has been an increase in the speed and efficiency of the web, even in the last five years, which has impacted on style, imagery and interaction. It is all about quality perceptions and brand reputation when aiming to satisfy the user’s experience and to empower them to confidently make a purchase.
With advanced analytics on sites, we can see the impact elements of design have but also how site speed can impact on key ranking metrics like click-through-rate (CTR). A simple A and B test could be to create a simplified version of a web page and see how it compares to the usual design in terms of conversions with a call to action.
Site speed optimisation is often a low priority when planning a website but Google, in particular, highlights its importance. Google have introduced accelerated mobile pages, to promote a seamless experience for the user. This strips down a web page to the main content, such as just the main text and images. Therefore, items like sidebars or pop-ups, which may appear on the desktop would not have to spend time loading when opened on a mobile device.
Google also provide a useful online tool to assess the speed performance of your site. Their Page Speed Insights uses a simple traffic light system to indicate how well each page does in terms of satisfying expectations. It provides a detailed analysis of server response time, caching implementation, minification and usability. There are also some good alternatives to try such as YSlow and Pingdom, which can sometimes offer other interesting insights.
One of the main issues with site speed tends to be the size or format of images. There is a demand to create a good visual website but it is important to ensure images are optimised in terms of compressing, where possible and made responsive to different devices. Site speed optimisation relies on the web browsers and this is why browser caching is also key with images, as you can effectively tell the browser to use the same image again on an another page, without it having to search the folders again.
The browser is working hard to load your website as fast as possible, going back and forth to retrieve the data. Therefore, the option of using concatenation is a good idea to combine files so the browser makes fewer trips. If you can enable compression then folders could be zipped so the browser doesn’t have to check one by one.
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is also a step further, where you can host your site on different servers across the world so there is less distance to travel when loading the site. This is ideal for a site that is aiming to attract a global audience and create a unified user experience.
Time is money online and if your site speed optimisation is poor then it's going to have an impact on your web traffic and revenue. To find out more about Web Foundry and how we could help speed up your site, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0131 667 0997.