Why does the speed of my website matter so much?

As the web continues to evolve you may have wondered why your website speed matters so much?

Part of the reason as to why it matters is down to user expectation.

Internet users these days want things fast, they want to click a button and get the information immediately.

People like things easy and they like things fast. In the world of websites and design this concept is called User Experience (UX).

The aim is to make the experience of the user the best it can be while simultaneously maximising the purpose of the design.

Having a fast and easy to use website satisfies peoples need for effortless convenience.

38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content/layout is unattractive.

Adobe

If your website is slow and difficult to use, expect frustrated users who will most likely leave and never return.

If the speed and UX of your website is not good enough the your bounce rate will increase.

People will come and they will go without necessarily fulfilling the purpose of your site.

This will then lower conversion rates, which could mean lower profits.

Even the smallest changes affect page speed

The slightest increase in page loading time can have dramatic affects on bounce rates.

Fractions of a second count, so optimising your site’s performance as fully as you can is crucial.

Improve page speed to decrease bounce rates - Google

What’s more, website speed not only influences whether users stay on your site and convert; it also affects whether or not they can find it in the first place.

That’s is why it’s so important to implement a comprehensive page speed regime.

Having a fast website will keep people on your site and increase conversions.

The other major benefit of having a fast website is to help your site to rank higher in search engines.

As of July 2018, site speed is now a Google ranking factor.

If your site is too slow then you risk lowering your ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs) which could lead to less traffic.

The importance of site speed

Think that speeding up your website isn’t important? The following stats show how slow web pages destroy conversions.

  • 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
  • 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load
  • A 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.
  • If an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year.

Even if a user was patient enough to stay on your slow web page, evidence suggests that 79% of customers wouldn’t come back.

Continue reading for some of the best ways to speed up your website and get more traffic from search engines.

Apply Effective Image Optimisation

Without a doubt one of the most common reasons for a slow website is too many large unoptimised images.

It’s surprising the amount of people showing us websites with multiple huge 10mb images and asking us why it’s loading so slow.

Ideally each image will be resized for its specific purpose. Meaning the maximum width of the container in which the image will sit is equal to the images width.

Image compression from Compressor.io

Beyond resizing each image it is best practice to optimise the image with compression.

This can be done manually on websites such as iloveimg or compressor.io or you can do it on your computer using software such as Adobe Photoshop.

WordPress Solutions

If you are running a WordPress website then there are many plugins that can help you to optimise your images.

A good place to start for a free image optimisation plugin is Smush. There is no limit to the number of images you can optimise.

If you are looking for a cloud based image optimisation plugin then the two we recommend are Shortpixel and Kraken.

Shortpixel allows up to 100 free image optimisations a month before you are required to pay. Kraken has a similar deal.

Add a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A lot of people have no idea what a Content Delivery Network (CDN) is. It sounds complicated but the concept is actually fairly straight forward.

CDN’s are severs that are strategically located around the world.

A CDN will copy your website and store them on each server to allow closer proximity for users.

why use a cdn? what is a cdn for?
CDN image from GTMetrix.com

Say a user is located in Australia, the CDN will load the version stored on the server closest to Australia.

This means the data wouldn’t have as far to travel, leading to faster loading times.

If you are using WordPress to power your website and you are looking for the best free CDN then we would highly recommend using Cloudflare.

If you are looking for a great premium solution that will help you get 100% scores on GTMetrix we can recommend Stackpath CDN.

Make sure to add Caching

A lot of people have heard of caching but they still ask, what exactly is caching? And what is caching for?

Caching is when a web browser stores parts of a website on the device in order to load it quicker the next time it’s accessed.

A cached website can load incredibly fast due to the fact that code and assets have already been downloaded.

The browser can then simply load the files the devices storage.

You will be missing out on some serious speed enhancement if you don’t have caching applied to your website.

If you are running a WordPress website then you can use a plugin to deal with your caching requirements.

A good place to start is the free plugin W3 Total Cache. This plugin has lots of options and is a little complicated to set up but it is a robust solution.

If you’re looking for the best performance plugin available for WordPress right now then look no further than WP Rocket.

Wp Rocket is so good, we use it on pretty much all of our sites here at Surf Creative.

It has a great interface, loads of options and is very easy to set up. You have to pay for it but it’s great value.

Replace Troublesome Plugins

Plugins are pre written packages of code that serve a specific function.

Websites these days especially WordPress websites can become bloated with too many plugins.

Plugins are incredible for solving complicated problems quickly. However some plugins can really slow down your website.

It’s best practice to only use a plugin when absolutely necessary.

Ideally a web developer would write efficient code for a specific and focused purpose, eliminating the need for extraneous code bloat.

Not everyone has the budge to hire a professional web developer. That’s why plugins are popular and in the world of WordPress plugins are simply a fact of life.

It’s best to research a plugin before installing it to check whether it is likely to slow website down.

A lot of WordPress websites use page builder plugins which can really slow down your website.

There are a couple of great ones though so we recommend you stick to one of the following:

  • Divi – Our page builder of choice. It has a lot of great features, and easy to use interface and amazing support.
  • Elementor – Another great page builder that acts in much the same way Divi does.

If you want to test your websites speed performance it might be worth looking into Google Lighthouse. It’s a tool that will audit your websites performance and indicate ways to improve it.

Alternatively if you want to hire an expert to help you speed up your website then Surf Creative can help.

Optimise your code

Optimising your code should ideally begin with a highly trained web developer writing efficient and minimal code designed for purpose.

If this is out of your budget then at least do your best to avoid extraneous code especially CSS (used for styling your website) and Javascript.

Remember to remove unused code.

The code should also be minified, ideally into one file per language used. Something like the list below:

  • 1 x minified CSS file for the styles
  • 1x minified Javascript file for the dynamic actions
  • 1x minified HTML file for the markup

Unsure what this means? It doesn’t matter too much, all you need to do is make sure that it’s been done.

If you are not a web developer and don’t know how to minify your code then don’t fret. There are WordPress plugins that can do it for you.

We highly recommend WP Rocket. It’s our favourite web optimisation plugin at the moment, when you use it you will see why.

If you are still confused and would like help then get in touch and we will do our best to help you.

Get Better Hosting

Maybe you went cheap to save money on your hosting? We get it, why spend more than you have to?

Well, although it’s not all about money, sometimes going too cheap will give you a service that isn’t particularly great.

Whether it’s poor customer service, unreliable “up time” or simply slow loading times, hosting services vary wildly in quality.

siteground is the best hosting
Siteground speed imrovements – Image from HostingCanada

If you are just starting out then we highly recommend Siteground for the best all-round WordPress and web hosting. We personally use them a lot.

If you are earning money with your website and want to invest a little more for a premium hosting service then our favourites are either Kinsta or WpEngine.

We use both of these excellent web hosting services and recommend them to many of our clients.

They will no doubt be better than some of the super cheap nonsense hosting services that plague the web.

Higher quality web hosting services should help to speed up your site’s loading time.

Defer JavaScript loading

Deferring Javascript may sound like a strange and alien concept but it’s actually quite simple.

To defer javascript simply means to prevent it from loading before other (ideally more important) content is loaded.

The idea is to load important files first such as html markup, fonts and styles.

This ensures the site will then be usable before loading the javascript. So the user can begin consuming content as quickly as possible.

If you use WordPress, you can use the WP Rocket plugin mentioned above to easily enable deferred JavaScript loading.

Simply check the box next to “Load JS files deferred,” and you’re good to go.

If you need help with this or any of the other points mentioned then please get in touch and we will do our best to help you.

Conclusion

Hopefully you have learned the benefits of having a blazing fast website.

The techniques listed in this article are all based on expert experience and will definitely help to make your website load dramatically faster.

If you choose to do your site speed optimisation on your own then good luck, we hope that this article helps.

If you would like us to your sites speed optimisation it then checkout our site speed packages or send us a message. We are always happy to help.