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Why Loading Speed Is King

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There’s a lot of things to consider when running a website, especially if it’s the digital face of your business. You need to think about content strategy, SEO, conversion tracking, branding, site structure, social media, and plenty more. But there’s one little thing that can fall by the wayside - and it may just be the most important thing about your website - how fast it loads.

The need for speed

Modern web consumers have come to expect a certain level of performance from the websites that they visit. Most of this expectation is unconscious, formed by habit and constant positive interaction with powerful, fast websites like Facebook or Google. Websites with millions of dollars to spend on optimisation.

When your users visit your site and it’s noticeably slow compared to the giants of the web, they pass negative judgement - really quickly - about your site. 25% of users will abandon a website if it hasn’t loaded in under 4 seconds, and it’s worse if you run an ecommerce website - 40% of users will abandon online shopping sites that haven’t loaded in 3 seconds.

Enter Google

Google uses your site’s page speed when determining search rankings. Google has not revealed exactly what it takes into account, however there’s evidence of correlation between higher rankings and quick Time to First Byte (TTFB) measurements for websites. The Time to First Byte is simply how long it takes for the first piece of data to arrive at your user’s device, and it is largely affected by the server your website is hosted on, the latency (delay) between the website and the user, and the quality of the code in your website.

Google has suggested that sites should try to keep under a 2 second load time per page, yet the average load time for websites across the globe is sitting somewhere around 7-8 seconds! Taking this advice will mean that not only will you rank higher and keep your users happy, you'll also be putting your competition to shame.

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What you can do

There’s a lot of steps you can take to optimise the loading speed of your website. To name a few:

  • Utilise a Content Delivery Network (CDN) such as Cloudflare to reduce the latency and make resource downloads more efficient. CDNs distribute your website to multiple locations across the globe, enabling users to connect to the site from their closest source, rather than relying on a single provider, which may be across an ocean or already bogged down by other users.
  • Increase the server resources available to your website. Generally, this involves paying more to your web developers or hosting company, but the money is well worth it.
  • Make sure that your website uses high quality, professional code, and that the code is minified or compressed whereever possible. Website code that is churned out by DIY providers such as Wordpress or Wix tends to suffer from bloat, and can slow down your site.
  • Optimise your images. Images for the web don’t need to be as large or high-res as images for other uses, and should always be resized and compressed before use on your website. Images tend to be the single largest slowing factor if used poorly.
  • Utilise caching. Caching involves storing pre-rendered versions of your website’s resources, so that the server is not put under as much load for each visitor and can serve every page faster. CDNs like Cloudflare can provide caching, and some website Content Management Systems like Wordpress or Silverstripe can also make use of caching.

Test your website now

We’re super passionate about website performance and speed optimisation. Last week we spent an entire day crunching one of our own sites to shave off an extra half second of load time.

In the good name of King Loading Speed, we built a tool to help you test your website, identify potential issues, and find out what you can do to optimise your site's speed. The tool is called the Litmus Test, and is available for free and without obligation.

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