It’s a fact: if you’re like most people, you expect a website to appear in two seconds or less after you click. Two seconds. The digital age has taught us that instant gratification will make us happy, and now most of us without some form of external stimulation.
We weren't always this impatient, but we’ve come to expect that the websites we want must appear instantaneously. The faster we’ve been able to access the internet, the less patient we’ve become.
What Exactly is Page Speed
When you click on a website, it’s like starting your car’s engine. You are essentially asking the engine to start up. Your browser sends a ping to the site’s server, asking it to load the site to your browser.
The term “page speed” refers to the length of time it takes for web pages to download from the website hosting server and get displayed in the your web browser.
Consumer Expectations for Site Performance
Statistics from Kissmetrics
- 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less
- 40% would click away, i.e., bounce, if it takes more than 3 seconds
- A 1-second delay in page response time can result in a 7% reduction in conversions
Why is Website Load Speed Important
When your website doesn’t meet visitors’ demands for fast load speeds, it can have some devastating consequences. It affects user experience, search rankings, even sales and conversions.
Your website should allow your visitors to quickly find answers to the questions that allow them to make their buying decisions. They do not want to wait around – and they WILL NOT wait around -- to read a product description or go through checkout.
You know the old saying: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. And it’s true here -- first impressions are everything. Your website visitors make a snap judgment about you and your business, based on your website. If your website loads fast, you’ve made a good first impression.
A fast loading website contributes to an excellent user experience (UX). People consider fast websites to be professional and reliable. They equate speed to efficiency, trust, and confidence.
A slow website, on the other hand, makes people think it’s unsafe, insecure, and untrustworthy. And it’s really difficult to overcome that negative first impression.
Bad for Business
A slow website isn't just annoying -- it's bad for business.
Think about it this way: you’re shopping in your favorite store and find something you want to buy. You head toward the check-out only to discover long lines. Do you wait? Or are you like most people and put the item down and move on to a different store?
This is what happens on your website if your site speed is too slow. And the end result is the same — people abandoning their shopping carts and clicking away. Or clicking away from the content you put so much time into creating. You’re losing sales and losing visitors.
Every second your visitors are forced to wait is a potentially lost conversion.
Google began using site speed as one of its criteria for organic search rankings back in 2010. It updated the algorithm in July 2018, making speed even more of a critical factor. That means your SEO efforts could be for nothing if your slow site speed causes high bounce rates.
Google considers a slow loading website as a disadvantage to user experience, thus reducing your ranking. Slow site speed has a direct impact on how Google positions you compared to your competitors.
Ultimately, a faster site translates to a better user experience, resulting in better SEO results and more page views.
A Fast Website Improves Your Bottom Line
The more pages a visitor sees, the more content they consume. The more content they consume, the more opportunities you have to convert them into buyers.
Negative Visitor Perceptions
For any business, web performance equals company performance.
Visitors perceive a slow website as a reflection of how your business is run. And get this: 44% of visitors who had a bad experience said they'd share that bad experience with others.
Mobile users are even more impatient than desktop users. According to Google, as much as 53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.
Slow Speed Kills SEO
Poor site load time hurts your SEO efforts. If a visitor spends less than a minute on your website, this means your website is not relevant to that visitor, and your SEO work will have been in vain.
Slow Speed Impacts UX
Website performance is UX. Good UX design is all about creating a good experience for your site visitors. There are two basic factors involved in a positive user experience: (1) Give visitors what they’re looking for, and (2) give it to them fast.
Speed affects your users’ experience, and thus, it affects your search ranking. Google will ignore your website even on a highly relevant search query because of low user experience.
Speed Checking Tools
It’s possible to test the load speed of your website. Here’s a couple tools to try.
- PageSpeed Insights from Google measures your site speed and gives you details on improving your load time.
- Think With Google tool will test your site on mobile devices and tell you where you have opportunities to improve your page load time. This
Why Your Website is Running Slow
We present here some potential reasons why your site is running slow. You don’t need to be technically-minded to understand these behind-the-scenes events, but you will probably want to discuss solutions for resolving these issues with your website management team.
1. Shared Server
Slow load speed can be traced back to your web host. An inexpensive web host puts your site on a shared server, which means you’re sharing space with countless other websites. If your site is slow, it’s because you’re in line with many other sites.
2. Lots of Traffic
A web server can only serve a certain number of requests at once. If your site gets lots of traffic, eventually it will slow down. Going back to our example of waiting in line to check out at the store, the same thing happens on your website. The more people waiting in line, the slower they get served. Your server will try to manage all the extra traffic, but it will slow down.
3. Large Images
When someone pings the server, it will start carrying each bit of the website’s content, including text and images, to their browser. A large image is going to take a long time to load up. If you’ve got a lot of large images on your website, you’re adding extra load time.
Something people do that slows site load times is display images at a smaller size than the actual image file itself stored on the server. This means if you grab the corners of a photo on your site and drag to resize it, you have only re-sized the displayed image, not the original file. The original file size is still on the server. Adjusting the sizes of your original images will save valuable space and increase load time.
4. Code Density
5. Too Many File Requests (RTTs)
To put it in perspective, let’s say your website uses 50 file requests every time it loads. If 100 people access your site at once, that means 5,000 file requests in one second. If you’re on a small server, that’s going to slow things down – a lot.
6. Too Many PlugIns
WordPress sites use lots of plugins, and each plugin makes its own file request. That means more file requests. If you’re running a lot of plugins, it’s going to slow things down. Ask yourself or your web team which ones are absolutely necessary.
7. Outdated Content Management System (CMS)
If WordPress, Drupal, or Wix manages your website, you will get requests to install updates or new versions of the software. These updates mean they’ve resolved problems, particularly with regard to speed.
Don’t ignore these requests. Install the latest versions of all software and plugins to help load your site faster.
8. Total File Size
How to Speed Up a Slow Site
For tips and techniques, both technical and not-so-techy, to speed up a slow website, this article lists quite a few.
Way back in the beginning days of the Internet, we expected sites to load slowly. That was just how it was, and we didn’t know anything different. But now, it’s a different story. Internet speed and device performance has increased dramatically over the last ten years. However, so have user expectations for site load speed.
A fast loading website positively influences conversions, page views and customer satisfaction and ultimately improves your bottom line.
Sources Used in This Article And For Further Reading: