Need for Speed: Why an Investment in Site Speed is an Investment in Success
:: By Larry Alton, @LarryAlton3 ::
Everyone is so focused on creating beautiful and immersive websites these days that it tends to feel like site speed is an afterthought.
This is unfortunate, since study after study shows that page loading time and conversions are directly correlated.
Here’s Why Speed Matters
Website speed has always been important, but it’s become an even bigger priority over the last couple of years. As technologies have improved and users have become accustomed to fast, fluid user experiences, they expect all websites to work in the same manner.
The gold standard study for website speed and the impact it has on a website’s conversion rates is this study from KISSmetrics, which shows that every one second delay in page response can diminish conversions by as much as seven percent. It also shows that 40 percent of all online shoppers abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to load, while 79 percent of shoppers who are dissatisfied with website performance are much less likely to purchase from the same site again.
This is something Bayswater Car Rental has discovered firsthand. Just a few months ago, their website was slower than average and conversion rates were suffering. So they decided to do something about it and invested and a lot of time and effort into enhancing their site speed. Now, their pages load in a fraction of the time and conversions have never been higher.
Three Tips for Reducing Page Loading Time
The Bayswater Car Rental example isn’t isolated. There are hundreds of other websites reporting the same results. The takeaway here is that you should reduce page loading time if you want to maximize conversions.
Here are a few helpful pointers and suggestions:
1. Optimize Images
Think of images and pictures like weights. There’s nothing wrong with having a couple of images on your site, but when you collect hundreds and thousands of them over time, suddenly your site is being weighed down rather significantly.
While you don’t have to get rid of all your images, you do need to make sure they’re properly optimized. You have two major options here. First off, you can just rescale images. (Hint: Don’t just scale the images down after uploading. They should be resized prior to uploading.) Secondly, you can compress images using a resource like TinyPNG.com.
2. Implement Browser Caching
Whenever someone visits your site for the first time, their browser has to request all of the text, images, scripts, and other files from your site’s server. If browser caching isn’t enabled, this process happens every time and adds a few seconds to the total loading time. However, if you enable browser caching, the information is stored in their browser and the user is able to bypass this process. Here’s a more detailed guide on how browser caching can be implemented.
3. Keep Scripts Below the Fold
Make Speed a Priority
There are a lot of different issues and hurdles that a website can work around, but speed isn’t one of them. There’s nothing more frustrating for a visitor than a slow site, and there’s very little you can do to keep someone engaged if page loading times aren’t up to par.
Keep this in mind and make speed a priority in the future.
Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer and researcher who contributes to a number of reputable online media outlets and news sources. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he’s also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.