Time Is Money: How To Make Your Website Super-Fast
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Your Website: Time Is Money

It’s no secret that these days we expect all of our internet activities to be user-friendly, offer a great user experience (UX), be fun where possible, and of course be super-fast. In fact, super-fast isn’t even enough for some of us. We want super-duper-fast. Warp speed. Like lightning.

If a website doesn’t perform at the speed of our expectations, then, quite simply, we click away and head to a rival website in the hope that we can get what we want quicker.

KISSmetrics produce a very telling infographic emphasising this point, and it seems pertinent to share it with you here.

Before we go on, let’s just highlight the key stats from the infographic:

  • 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load
  • 52% of online shoppers say that loading speed is important to them
  • 79% of online shoppers who are dissatisfied with site speed performance say that they are less likely to buy from the same site again

These are hugely significant statistics that affect the bottom lines of businesses. And, just so that this is absolutely clear, the final statistic that the infographic highlights is just how much money can be lost in real terms:

“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 each year.

Mobile Just As Important

I’m writing this blog post on the advent of what has become known online as Mobigeddon. This is Google’s brand new search algorithm update that will affect the rankings of all websites from this day (21st April 2015) forth. Here’s what it says:

“As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns. In the past, we’ve made updates to ensure a site is configured properly and viewable on modern devices. […] Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

According to KISSmetric’s infographic, users will generally wait 6-10 seconds for a website to load on their mobile before abandoning the page – but this, frankly, will not be good enough any longer for Google. Your website needs to load super-duper-fast on whichever device a user chooses to visit it on.

If you need to check to see if your site is mobile-friendly, then you can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. To use it, simply copy and paste your site’s URL into the search field provided and hit ANALYSE. If you receive a result that is anything less than “Awesome”, then you will need to get to work on your site, speeding it up and making it more accessible for mobile.

How To Make Your Website Super-Fast

Ok. Before I start listing off some actionable tips that you can go away with and start putting into practice, I first want to make one thing absolutely crystal clear. Users want a fast website much more than they want one that has more bells and whistles than Santa’s grotto. All those clever little animations that look so cool are great – but no one’s going to hang around to see them if they slow your site down to a snail’s pace, and it will be even worse on mobile.

As disappointing as this might be to you, just think about how much business you will be losing by keeping them in – now that is a loss worth crying about. So, let’s get into it. Below are 5 great tips to help speed up your website.

  1. Use As Little Graphics As Possible

Don’t underestimate the power of white space for a successful web page design. The more white space you use, the clearer your message will be, the cleaner your website will appear, the more professional it will look, and the faster it will perform. Where graphics are needed, use png rather than gif as it compresses better.

  1. Cache Everything

Mark all of your pages as cachable. This means that pages won’t need to be reloaded from the server as users click back and forth from one page to the next (and back again). The site will be much more responsive as the server deals with less requests, which also means that it will use less bandwidth so will not be as expensive to run.

  1. Combination

You will need to take all of the scripts on your site and combine them into a single script. And do the same with all CSS and combine it into a single stylesheet. Any of your pages that contain multiple images will also need attention. You will want to combine the images into as few files as possible using CSS sprites, as this will reduce the number of round-trips the server will have to make to secure all the resources. This will speed up your site.

  1. Compression

The compression of html pages will result in a huge performance increase. You can do this by using the GZIP compression algorithm, though you will need to optimise your content for the compression.

  1. Use CDNs

User location impacts on load speed. So, in order to combat this, you can spread your content across multiple servers on what’s called a content delivery network (CDN). This is essentially a collection of servers that are located at different places around the world. For example, a CDN service provider might have servers in London, California, New York and Hong Kong. This way, the server with the quickest network will deliver the content to the user’s screen. A user in Cornwall will get their content served from the servers in London, and a user in Montreal will get theirs from New York.

CDNs are effective, but they are generally an expensive option, so you will need to work out in monetary terms just how much site speed is worth to you to justify the investment.

Got any more tips to improve site speed? Tweet us with your thoughts!

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