The Internet is a major marketing medium and a company's website is at the center of all that acquisition and retention activity.
With so many options to choose from (some better, some worse), consumer expectations are at an all-time high and site speed is atop their list of how their demands. Those digital properties that make site speed a priority can enjoy the following marketing benefits and more:
People are naturally impatient and they got used to instant loading on every device. Slow loading is often the reason why people abandon a website. We're speaking milliseconds now. According to Google's internal study, users experiencing 400ms delay in results did 0.5 percent fewer searches and even 0.75 percent fewer during the next couple of weeks. Those numbers may seem small, but accumulated they have a real consequence for your business.
The increase in delay has an exponential impact on user satisfaction. Imagine the delay was 1 or 2 seconds. Chances are users satisfaction will decrease even more dramatically. Good thing is, it works the opposite way as well. Site that is loading fast and responds quickly to visitor's requests creates happy visitors that don't bounce. Everything else is a domino effect.
Once visitors don't bounce and stay, they are more likely to take the desired action and therefore to fulfill the purpose of your website whether you run an ecommerce, lead generation site or simply provide information. The speed is important in every step of your user's journey, so even a small delay can have negative effect on conversion rate.
It is a simple logic: higher conversion rate leads to higher revenue. According to KISSmetrics, if an ecommerce site is making $100,000 per day, a one-second page delay could potentially cost $2.5 million in lost sales every year.
Shopzilla, for instance, representative Phil Dixon reported a stunning increase by 25 percent in page views, which resulted in more than 10 percent increase in revenue due to the five-second speed improvement. That was seven years ago, nowadays the impact would have been much more distinctive.
Obviously speed matters not only to your visitors, but to Google as well. Back in 2010, Google announced it will take loading time into consideration in its Web search rankings. Even though topicality, reputation and value are still more relevant, site speed also has its weight and it shall not be underestimated. Furthermore, as mentioned above, speed influences bounce rate, which is an important aspect of Google search engine rankings.
How to Achieve It
First thing you can do within your company is to minify the code. Code minification is the process of compressing the original code to the smallest possible size in a way that does not necessarily affect the functionality of the code. It's a process of removing or modifying all unnecessary characters from the code such as whitespace, new line, code comments, defined variable to minified character. However, this is partially limited by the complexity of your website and cannot be improved endlessly.
You can also accelerate your site by optimizing images. Even though optimal solution is hard to find, it can have a notable impact on your site speed. Images usually occupy most of the visible space, their optimization comprises: quality, px dimensions, format capabilities and so on. This includes for example scaling images and ensuring the original size is equal to the display size or using vector formats where possible. You can also achieve a slight improvement by removing unnecessary metadata of your images. Lastly there are plenty of tools and techniques free of charge or paid that can help to automate this process.
This leads us to another improvement, which has a significant impact and is easy to implement: content delivery network. CDN is a network of servers deployed around the world. Website's static content is copied on all servers that are within CDN provider's infrastructure. Your site then loads faster everywhere in the world as the content loads from a server (so called Edge Server), that is closer to the end user than your Web hosting origin server.
Static content usually takes the longest to load and in this regard, CDN is hitting the nail on the head. A content delivery network notably reduces latency and the average speed increase is up to 56 percent.
A content delivery network usually comprises further improvements to your site. Most providers offer TLS certificate also known as SSL certificate, so that your site is secured with a cryptographic protocol. Very recently a new certificate authority Let's Encrypt entered the market and hugely simplified obtaining a secured certificate in an automated process for your site. A few CDN providers working with Let's Encrypt and can therefore offer TLS certificate for free.
Another improvement that influences site speed is HTTP/2. It is a new version of the HTTP protocol used by World Wide Web. HTTP/2 was introduced recently in the second half of 2015. The main difference from the former HTTP/1.1 is so called multiplexing of multiple requests. What it means is HTTP/1.1 had to make several requests to load every individual part of your website, HTTP/2 loads the website over one connection. HTTP/2 also compresses header files, which shrinks the overall size and makes the transport easier. Lastly HTTP/2 is binary unlike the former textual HTTP/1.1.
A few CDN providers already offer HTTP/2 by loading your site with HTTP/1.1 and distributing it with HTTP/2, which makes it available and easy to implement for everyone. You can see the demonstration of HTTP/2 here and test the difference on your computer.
There are likely many other tools that can help with site speed, but the above presented will have the biggest impact in most cases.