The internet is a vast and often overwhelming place.
If you want your site to be successful, it needs to offer an experience that’s quick and easy for visitors.
Websites that take forever to load or are difficult to use will just lead people away from your site in search of easier alternatives.
Page speed matters!
That means it’s important for your business’s online presence to be fast and responsive at all times – even on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, to provide a great user experience.
After all, more than half of today’s internet browsing takes place on a handheld device!
So if you’re not already addressing these issues with your current web design, now’s the time to act.
We’ll show you how website speed affects your online conversions below.
Avoiding website performance issues in a rapidly moving business world is a good way to keep up with the competition.
What is a conversion rate?
A website conversion rate is the percentage of website visitors who make a purchase or submit their contact details to engage services, on a website.
As website owners, it is important to ensure that potential customers are able to reach the website easily and are not put off by slow page load times.
There are various factors that affect website conversions, some of these include page load time, the mobile responsiveness of a website, content structure, the quality of your copy, and user experience.
How does speed affect conversions?
Speed matters when it comes to conversions. 47% of internet users expect webpages to load instantly and 40% won’t open pages that take more than 3 seconds.
When a website takes more than three full seconds just for the page itself before loading additional content you’re losing 45% of your visitors that come from search, because they simply go back to Google and click another result.
Why page speed matters to conversions.
When you’re designing your website, think about website speed.
How long does it take for your website to load?
Does the design of your website, the user experience, make it easy for people on different devices to navigate?
The website is a huge part of how you present yourself online and how you provide an optimised experience for website visitors.
Page speed has a direct effect on conversions.
With great user experience, visitors are more likely to convert when they’re navigating quickly on your website.
Quality website design is an important factor in this-both in terms of speed and device compatibility.
When it comes to website speed, there are two main considerations: loading time and mobile friendliness.
These factors can have a big effect on the quality of visitors’ site experience and whether or not they choose to convert.
Put simply a website with a faster loading time will have higher website conversion rates than those that load sluggishly.
Perhaps more importantly, visitors are much less likely to return if they have a poor experience the first time around.
How to optimise your site for speed, the basics.
A slow-loading website is the death of a business.
Studies show that even if you have the best content on the internet, people will leave your site if it takes too long to load.
The average person has a tendency to wait two seconds before leaving a webpage and most pages won’t keep someone’s attention until the page fully loads.
In order optimise your website speed, there are few things that can be done: stop using images as backgrounds, increase page size before publishing, and use minimal code to reduce the number of HTTP requests needed to load a webpage.
You should always start by optimising your background images for scrolling.
Most people don’t know this but websites with lots of scrolling backgrounds or animations have up to 400% more page load time than a website without.
There are some exceptions to this, such as if you have a site with one very long page. But in general, your background images will add bulk and slow down your site if they are heavy on content.
You should always optimise your images for performance before loading them onto the server because large files take longer to load.
It’s recommended that you optimise all of your images for performance at once so that you don’t forget any of them – optimising just one or two by itself will not make a difference to the size since it’s only one image out of hundreds.
If you divide the job into several small jobs, it will take up more time and each optimisation job won’t be finished until the last one.
You can optimise using software such as Adobe Photoshop or GIMP. If you can’t afford this software, there are some free alternatives online which will be linked below:
If you have an image that is 72 dpi and not in a high-quality format (.jpeg or .png), it should be optimised to around 500 kB at most for increased speed.
When optimising for performance, make sure the saturation and brightness are the same as the original image – this ensures no data loss occurs during optimisation of an image and helps to reduce the size by up to 30%.
If you’re optimising GIFs or PNG-8s, optimise firstly to around 60 kB and then optimise again to 10 kB. This allows for some lossy compression on these types of image files but if too much is lost, the image will appear poor quality.
Last but not least, don’t forget about your site’s HTTP requests!
The more HTTP requests a webpage has while loading, the longer it will take for everything to show up.
This is why optimising your site’s page speed is so important – SEO sites are faster and rank higher on Google than slow ones.
When it comes to optimising HTTP requests, you’ll almost always need to optimise performance (optimisation reduces the number of HTTP requests) but images aren’t the only thing that causes slow page load time.
To avoid this, make sure that your CMS/blogging platform uses code minimisation in order to reduce the amount of code needed for a webpage by around 5-10% – this includes some HTML and CSS optimisations as well.
A good example of code optimisation is WordPress’ “Just Another Pretty Face” plugin or WPtouch Mobile Plugin.
There are some free alternatives online too:
Examples of such tools are YSlow for Chrome, Pagespeed Insights (a Google tool), and GTmetrix.
Easy ways you can improve your website's load time.
There are five key areas you can address to drastically improve your website’s load time, they include:
- Website redirects.
- Load content after the page has loaded.
- Website images.
- Utilise a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
Website redirects are a big website issue when it comes to website speed.
They can slow down website speed so much that some website owners have reported an increase in loading time by as much as 10 seconds!
When you make any kind of webpage changes on your website, always try to use 301 redirects instead of 302 or 307 .
The redirection process is faster with a 301 than with other types of redirects.
Load content after the page has loaded.
Since Google introduced their page load interstitial program, website authors are now being encouraged to load content after the page has loaded (aka “above-the-fold”).
Loading content above the fold allows users to access website information more quickly – website authors should also note that website speed is a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm.
As pointed out earlier website images are another big website problem for website owners, especially if your website has to load a lot of image files.
Each website image will cause the webpage to load more slowly – this can affect website speed drastically and it can even cause some users to leave the website page altogether.
You should try to reduce the number of image files you use and combine all your website images into one so they don’t slow down your website, which will increase your website performance.
This might take more coding on your part, but it will decrease webpage size, website load time, and website bounce rate.
Utilise a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
The last website tip I will give website owners who want to increase their website’s speed is to use a CDN like Cloudflare.
A website content delivery network works by caching website information into servers around the world – this means website visitors from around the world won’t have to download website images or website scripts from your hosting server.
Tips for speeding up any site.
Website page speed affects your conversions, and people’s expectations of website load times are only getting faster.
- Use Google’s website speed insights tool to benchmark website speeds.
- Optimise Images.
- Chunk up pages so that they are lower in size.
- Mobile website design needs to be considered from the ground up. Make sure your website will look good on all screen sizes.
- Use website speed test tools to measure website speeds.
It is important to keep website speed in mind when designing your sites so that you can make the best website possible for increasing conversions.
Page speed test tools that are free and easy to use.
There are so many test tools available, but we have only listed four that we have come to love and use regularly, along with some information about what they do and how they work.
YSlow for Chrome.
If you are a web developer or site owner (or even just a Google Chrome user), you owe it to yourself to download and install the YSlow extension for Chrome.
YSlow analyses pages in your browser as they load, producing suggestions on how to improve performance and render times.
It’s simple: this one tool will help make all your websites faster, whether you’re optimising existing sites, developing new ones, or simply browsing around online.
YSlow is developed by Yahoo! so that developers can use the tool in their browsers of choice while working on projects.
GTMetrix is a free online tool that analyses the front-end of your website, allowing you find out what requires optimisation so that your site runs faster (This process is called web performance optimisation).
At the end of this post, there are instructions on where to get started with optimising your site.
GTMetrix analyses both Google PageSpeed Insights and YSlow.
Google PageSpeed Insights and GTMetrix analyse both the front-end (how fast a page loads) and back-end (how efficient your site’s code is).
YSlow, on the other hand, only analyses the front-end, so it leaves out important information that you may be having issues with.
GTMetrix also uses a “visual” tab much like Google PageSpeed Insights, showing you images of where you can improve visually rather than just numbers.
This is why GTMetrix is my pick of the bunch and go-to, when working on website load times.
Google PageSpeed Insights.
Google PageSpeed Insights is designed to help you optimise your site for speed by highlighting opportunities for improvement on your page and providing data-driven suggestions to execute those improvements.
Google PageSpeed Insights analyses a page’s HTML code and provides recommendations based on best practices that help you improve the overall responsiveness of your web pages.
The tool also analyses graphics, scripts, and other factors that could affect the rendering time of your webpage.
Although this is a great tool, I have found it to be very critical in its reporting.
Pingdom is another website that offers a free website speed test.
Pingdom also provides instant feedback on how fast your site loads as well as recommendations on how you can improve your site’s loading times.
It also shows where the potential problems might be by highlighting slow elements in orange on each webpage.
Plus, Pingdom comes with a few other tools that help you monitor your website uptime and get help from Pingdom’s support staff when needed.
What is a good website speed?
A website speed of 3 seconds or less will have the best website conversion rates.
How do I test the speed of a specific website?
It’s not that easy to see the website speed on your website if you are not an expert, but there are free website speed measuring tools available.
Here are a few website speed measuring tools:
- Speed analysis by Pingdom http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt
- Analyse website’s performance using Yslow http://www.yslow.org/
- How fast is my website? http://www.howfastismywebsite.com
How do I make my website faster?
This is an important factor for website owners. It’s important to respond quickly to website requests in order to keep a website running smoothly. There are a few reasons why a website may run slowly: your website could be overloaded, you might have a low-speed internet connection, or there could be network issues in the area where your website is hosted.
What you can do about this:
- Increase server capacity to improve load time
- Decrease page size and number of images to decrease load time
- Optimise images for website use by shrinking them in Photoshop or with other image editing software
- Avoid loading too many ads on each page of your website since this will slow down page loading time
It's all about website speed.
It’s a common misconception that it doesn’t matter how fast your website loads, but the truth of the matter is: website speed matters and has been shown time and again to affect conversion rates.
While there are many factors involved in website performance optimisation, as site owners or web developers you owe it to yourselves (and your customers) to use one of these free tool tests when analysing any website for potential bottlenecks.
Check out and play with the four different tools we listed, and let us know what you find out about your website speed!
Our team wants nothing more than help partner with you on improving your website’s speed, so if you need help then get in touch.
We can help with everything, a done-for-you service. Which allows you to focus on your business while we build your business online to connect you to your customers.
Plus, our team is ready to make sure your site looks beautiful no matter what device visitors use or how they connect, from desktop computers to mobile phones!
Click here to learn more about our website design services.