Imagine your frustration as you try to open the metro schedule website on your desktop in a hurry just before rushing out to catch the last train back home after work. A few seconds’ delay is all it will take for you to shut the site down and run out (or miss your train completely).
Our patience is even lower with slow mobile sites.
Thing is, the world offers a lot of choices. A shopper, a buyer, a business – all have several hundred options to choose from, if not more, when they put their cash on the table.
People are impatient and risk averse by nature. When they’re shopping are we willing to give them a chance to walk out the door, or do we want to make that sale?
Well, studies prove that site speed has all that impact on conversions. A 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% decrease in conversions.
It’s estimated that an ecommerce website that makes $100,000 per day will incur losses of up to 2.5 million every year due to a 1-second delay in loading time. So aren’t the risks huge?
Studies confirm our predicament: Slow site speeds affect bottom lines
For all the little tinkles, whistles and aesthetically appealing functionality we like to add to our websites, we let the ‘user experience’ aspect of our sites slide to the background.
Several studies (one I shared above) confirm that almost 50% of internet users expect websites to load within 2 seconds, and are likely to abandon those that take over 3 seconds to load.
Add to that, almost 80% of internet users who have had a negative experience with a website’s performance are unlikely to return back to it.
An experiment conducted by Google in 2006 confirmed this. They increased their search results from 10 to 30, and as a result both traffic and revenue dropped by a whopping 20% because the page loaded half a second slower.
Did you know that Google officially announced in 2010 that page-loading time would become part of their search engine ranking algorithm. Besides providing seamless user experience, quick loading pages allow search engines to crawl into websites more efficiently.
So, what to do next?
First things first, understand what’s not working
Before you optimize your content, you need to identify the bottlenecks that are slowing your site down. I’m listing several sources below that will help you evaluate your current site speed. Although, keep in mind that each of these tools measures different parameters (such as browser, location, server) and therefore together they focus on many issues.
So it’s advisable to use several together to gauge website performance to develop actionable strategies to produce results.
This application analyzes the content of your website and then gives you suggestions based on that. Since Google is the biggest search engine today, the results are great, and it is a must use tool.
YSlow comes as a browser extension that provides you a summary of your website’s components, statistics and several suggestions based on rules predetermined, or disclosed by users. Yahoo!’s performance team encourages websites to abide by these 34 rules while this tool uses 23 of them.
This tool gives you a variety of options to test site speed or the speed of a single mobile or desktop page based on performance indicators like servers, browsers and locations.
Like the above tools, Pingdom also allows you to analyze your site content and comes up with a bevy of solutions to fix loading time problems. Its distinguishing feature is that it saves all scheduled tests so you can accurately track your performance history.
Next, to increase site speed, you need to start by optimizing the content of your website. There are lots of things you can do.
Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network)
If you have a larger website with a decent number of regular visitors, do yourself the favor of using a Content Deliver Network (CDN). A CDN, is a system of distributed servers (network) that deliver webpages and other Web content to a user based on the geographic locations of the user.
So, if you are using HQ images and videos on your website and you want to increase your site speed, just upload the videos and images to the CDN so when the website loads it becomes faster and the CDN delivers the heavy images and videos.
There are tons of good CDN networks available to choose from. Just go to their reviews and compare pricing to see which one is a best fit for your business.
Serve Static Content from a Cookieless Domain
Decrease code size
CSS Minifier: This will help you optimize your CSS file
Will Peavy: This will try to reduce your HTML code to minimum
Reduce image sizes
Reduce image sizes as much as possible by using optimized formats like JPEG and PNG formats. Also, remove unnecessary comments and colors, which increase image size.
Note that a browser will only render a page once its images are loaded. Specifying image dimensions will help speed up the process and therefore improve the entire loading time of your speed.
According to Google’s best practices memo, “Additional HTTP redirects can add one or two extra network roundtrips (two if an extra DNS lookup is required), incurring hundreds of milliseconds of extra latency.”
Reduce broken links or bad requests
Compress your website with Gzip
Gzip compression is one of the best ways to reduce the size of your HTTP and CSS files up to 50 – 70%. Some extensions do it automatically, while others need to be set up manually at the web server level. This means it would take much less time to load pages, and even the bandwidth use will be reduced. You can also read more about Gzip compression here.
Switch off plugins that you don’t need
We have established through numerous studies that an increase in site speed increases your ecommerce business’s conversion rate. So do it now! The process will also create a loyal readership/ visitor base that is beneficial to all businesses eventually.
There are several other ways you can improve your site speed. Here are tips by Google or simply request a site speed audit from Applied Innovations and we’ll deliver a custom document detailing the performance of your website against best practices.
What is your experience with tips to increase site speed? We would love to hear from you!