How to speed up your website and why it matters
It might come as a surprise, but a website’s load time significantly affects the overall user experience and its conversion rate. Websites which take ages to load will impact the ways in which consumers perceive the brand, as well as its products or services. That’s why it’s important to make sure your website loads with the speed of light – here are some tips to help you do it and enjoy high conversion rate and user satisfaction.
Why is load time important?
During the last few years, countless research studies have demonstrated how a website’s load time and its conversion rate are closely connected. In an insightful infographic on the subject, WebpageFX shows that a mere 1 second of additional load time leads to a drop in conversion rate by a smashing 7%!
Here are some interesting figures from this and other studies to show you that load time does matter:
- 83% of users expect that your website loads in under 3 seconds;
- if loading your website takes more, users are likely to share their negative experience with family and friends;
- for e-commerce websites, a load time surpassing 3 seconds will cause 77% of users to never return to your store.
By now, you probably realize that your website’s load time is a serious matter. Here are five tips to help you in reducing it.
1. Measure your load time
Before taking any steps, you need to actually know the load time of your website. Use online tools to measure it – Google’s PageSpeed Tools, GTMetrix or Pingdom. If you see that your website loads in under 3 seconds and scores at least 75 points on the scale, you can be sure that its load time won’t affect the UX.
2. Compress it
If your page is large and heavy, the best thing you can do is to compress it. It’s simple, but it works wonders. Use tools like Gzip (http://www.gnu.org/software/gzip/) to limit HTTP responses and reduce the bandwidth of your website. Good news – the majority of web browsers support this format, so when gaining on load time through compression you’re not risking anything.
3. Optimize your visuals
What affects your load time most are heavy images. There are three things you can do to optimize them and improve your load time:
- keep them as small as possible – crop and edit them, remove image comments;
- go for formats like JPG, PNG and GIF (just small ones) – avoid BMP;
- always include the scr attribute in the code – otherwise browsers will make a request for each element, rendering the process way too time-consuming.
4. Limit HTTP requests
This is essential since the vast majority of load time is actually spent on loading various parts of your website (Flash, scripts, images, style-sheets) – for each of those elements, browsers will make a separate HTTP request. What you can do is limit the number of elements on your website with CSS, reduce your scripts and locate them at the bottom of the website, combine various elements into one and streamline them right on your website.
5. Say goodbye to (some of) your plugins
Plugins are great – that is, before you consider how they affect your load time. They slow down the page, can cause security problems or crash. Use plugins that are vital for your website – remove the rest. If things are still going badly, try to disable one plugin at a time and test your load time – you’ll detect which one is the culprit.
Speeding up your website is worth the trouble – it’s easy and can bring immense benefits to both your conversion rate and UX.
Monique Craig is a passionate blogger and marketing specialist who works for Oneflare, an online marketplace which connects customers with local service providers.