Why the speed of your website matters

By Brendyn   •   Updated: 24 Mar 2019
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No one likes a slowpoke. Fast website speed should be one of your primary success metrics for your website.

With today’s short attention spans, your website visitors will be ‘bouncing’ away from your site if it is taking more than 3-4 seconds to load. To really create a good impression you really need a site that is loading in under 2 seconds for most visitors.

We equate speed with professionalism on the web. Is your website a hobby or a business?

Website speed is key to retaining and converting your website visitors

In today’s competitive online environment it’s hard to get visitors to pick you out of the dozen other options online for your product or service. Once you’ve convinced them to visit your site from an engaging social media post, search engine result or online ad, you need to make sure they convert.

The biggest brands have done a lot of research and the results are very clear a major factor in the battle to retain visitors is the time it takes to load your website.

Here’s some telling statistics from some of those studies.

  • 53% of mobile users leave if a page takes more than 3 seconds to load
  • For every extra 1 second of page load time the BBC lost 10% of its users
  • Amazon would lose an estimated 1.6 Billion per year if their site slowed down by 1 second

Site speed is also about ranking better in search engine rankings

Website speed is one of the signals that Google uses to rank websites in search results. Improving your page load time can help you rank higher overtime. Recent updates to Google’s algorithm have emphasised this more over time.

Ranking better in search engines is a long term gold mine of traffic for most businesses. It’s the largest source of new business for most of the websites that we manage on a daily basis.

So how do you speed up your website?

1. Run a speed test right now

You can’t tell if your website is slow unless you do an objective check. If you visit your own website a lot, copies of the important files are stored on your computer (cached) so that it loads quicker the next time. This can give you a false impression of speedy loading that is not shared by your first time visitors.

You need to run a speed test in one of the many online tools. Here’s two that we like.

https://tools.pingdom.com
https://gtmetrix.com

2. Make sure you use a great web host

The easiest way to make a difference to your website loading speeds is to use fast, top notch web hosting.

If you are using WordPress for your website that means ditching that shared hosting that only costs you $3 per month and looking at a high quality managed WordPress host with lightning fast load times. Sure it’s going to be more expensive, but speedy performance can help improve your bottom line so it’s worth the extra spend.

Shared hosting is literally what it says on the tin. Shared. That means that you are hosted on a server with lots of other websites, if they are slow or experiencing high traffic your own website can be starved of resources and will never reach it’s full performance potential

You’ll also want to make sure that your website hosting is close to your audiences geographic location. If you server a New Zealand audience you’d ideally want servers in Australia or New Zealand. Servers in the US or Singapore will be slower to load, based purely on distance.

3. Optimise your website for speedy loading times

Another key is to optimise your website to make sure it is able to load quickly. Here’s some key factors to look at and review on your website.

  • Review your websites theme (the presentation layer for your website). Is it loading unnecessary files or functions into your website. Many themes that are popular for WordPress and other platforms look great but can be very “heavy” with how many javascript files they load. This can have a significant impact on a websites load times.
  • Review your addons and plugins that you are using. Are all of them absolutely necessary for the proper function of the site?
  • Is everything up to date? Out of date code in your website platform or add ons can cause slowness issues and also can be a security issue.
  • Is there any slow code that is compromising your websites performance?
  • What can you cache? If your website is using WordPress or another content management system, you’ll want to make sure you have some caching enabled. Website caching is the art of making a static copy of your websites pages so your websites load super fast without having to query the database and run code everytime you load the page. Much of your website can be safely cached and only refreshed periodically. This can drastically decrease your load times, especially when you have a lot of visitors on your site at once.
  • Can you make use of a CDN? A CDN or “Content Delivery Network” is a way to serve your images away from your main website and closer to your visitors location. Copies of your sites images and some other performance related files are moved to multiple ‘edge’ locations around the world. This means that if your website is hosted in Australia but you get a website visitor from America, the images will be loaded from an American location. As you can imagine, this speeds up load times for global visitors quite a bit.
  • Make sure that your images are optimised. Are you using uncompressed 5MB images on your homepage (I really hope not). If so you’ll want to upload, smaller, more optimised versions to reduce the page load size. You may also want to look at incorporating an image compression service into you website to do this for you automatically.

Optimisation is often an incremental process and you might need some outside web development help to achieve the best results.

Our WordPress hosting partner, Kinsta, has a fantastic in depth guide to optimising your WordPress website for speed.

4. Set a performance budget for your website pages

Just like you would set a monetary budget to contain your spending, make sure you are spending your performance capital wisely.

Set an overall page size and try and stick to it. We like to limit homepages to no more than 1.5MB in size and smaller than 1MB is great. That might mean making some compromises. You might not have room in the budget for that slideshow that you wanted or you might need to dialback on the fullscreen, full width video playing in the background.

There’s nothing specifically wrong with using video, slideshows or large images but there has to be a purpose and an awareness of overall size. If not your page can end up bloated

5. Test your website again (and again)

Keep speed testing with the same tool that you chose in the beginning. Make sure that you stick with the same tool to compare apples with apples.

Over time, track the trends to see if you site is heading in the right direction.

Want more speed but feeling stuck? We can help you

We’re specialists in lighting fast WordPress hosting and website performance optimisation. Here at Avoca, we can take a look at your site and make some recommendations and even move it over to our managed website care platform. We guarantee that your site will be faster on our high end hosting platform or your first month is free (for sites on the Google Cloud Platform at Kinsta).

We recently moved four different client sites over to our high end managed WordPress platform and reduced the page load times by an average of 47%. Contact us today to get us to look at your website


Don’t just take our word for it, heres some more articles on the topic

https://neilpatel.com/blog/speed-is-a-killer/
https://developers.google.com/web/fundamentals/performance/why-performance-matters/
https://www.bitcatcha.com/blog/6-reasons-why-website-speed-matters-how-amazon-would-lose-1-6-billion-if-it-slowed-down/


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