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A websites speed is one of the first things we notice when we interact with a site. Most major websites do a pretty good job of optimising their site, so we only really notice when things don’t load quickly. 

A slow loading site is going to annoy your visitors and result in a high bounce rate. According to recent research, 47% of people don’t wait for more than two seconds for a web page to load…if your website is loading in over 2 seconds then you might be losing valuable business.

So speed is core to the users initial and overall experience and for a B2C website such as e-commerce sites, these few seconds can lead to millions in lost revenue.

This article will outline the three main reasons why optimising your website for speed is critical to your business success and some steps to take to combat this problem.

1. Fast loading pages ensure a greater user experience for your customers

As outlined above, when customer opens your website for the first time, they expect it to load quickly (regardless of device or browser), generally within 3 seconds or less. If it takes longer the perception of your business diminishes quickly and the chance that the customer will abandon the search entirely increases. Kissmetrics revealed that 40% of people abandon a site completely if it take more than 3 seconds to full load.

2. Speed is a primary ranking factor for Google

Google fully understand what customers want and need. A fast loading site is important to customers so it’s important to Google. Having a fast loading website is a major ranking factor when looking at your sites overall SEO health.

Designers and developers also need to consider how the site looks. We could all have sites loading in less than 500milliseconds if our pages were just text and nothing else, but this also isn’t going to help our visitors either, so a balance needs to be struck.

3. Speed affects conversions

As outlined, Google penalises businesses with low page speeds. Customers or visitors will also stop returning to the site if their overall experience is poor. This results in the loss of potential customers and revenue.

For e-commerce websites, a 1 seconds delay can lead to a 7% reduction in conversion. For example, let’s say an e-commerce website makes $50,000 per day, a delay of just one second could potentially lead to approx $1.28 million in lost revenue per year. This is huge!

There are many challenges facing the success of a business today, but a slow loading website, and the lost revenue associated with that cannot be allowed to continue. Having a fast loading website is a critical factor. Optimising a website, and the content on it, is of paramount importance for every website developer, tester and decision maker, and should be factored into your monthly business maintenance priorities.

How can I test if my website is slow?

There are thankfully plenty of tools to test your websites speed. These also provide insights into what might be causing problems so your website development or creative agency of choice can remedy the issues.

Below are the 4 main tools that we use to test our clients and our own websites.

Google page speed –

Since Google is critical to our business success, we will start with their tools. 

On visiting their Page speed insights landing page, enter your url and hot “Analyse”. Google will then crawl your website and test the page. Note that Google is only testing the url you enter and not the entire site. You will need to follow these steps if you wish to test other pages.

Once complete, Google will provide you two results pages, one will be for the desktop experience and the other will be for the mobile experience. This is crucial, especially if your business has more mobile users than desktop users.

You will, be presented with a performance score that breaks down how long the page takes to load entirely and how long until the first content is displayed.

The diagnostics area will outline key areas for concern along with a Red, Amber and Green system to indicate the severity of the issues listed. Inspect these performance issues carefully and cross-check them against the other tools listed below.

Gmetrix page speed –

Gmetrix is our next tool of choice as it gives even more insight into some of the issues your website faces along with some helpful tips and resources for how to fix them. Gmetrix also provides a helpful waterfall display of how your website loads and how long each element (imagery, fonts, HTML, CSS, javascript etc) takes to load. It will become quickly apparent using this tool if for example you have a massive image that hasn’t been optimised slowing down your website. A handful of uncompressed images can bring your website to its knees so you have to have good oversight on what is being loaded onto your website and how.

Pingdom –

Pingdom is another great tool, primary because it allows you to test from different locations. A website may load very quickly from San Francisco but terribly from London for example. This may indicate that you will need to invest in a CDN (content Delivery Network) to remedy this. Pingdom gives some top-level results split between an overall performance grade, page size, load time and some technical details for what needs to be looked at.

Google analytics –

Any business owner should have Google analytics installed on their websites to track not only your overall business health but also identify your traffic, visitor behaviour and areas to address. Google analytics also provides data on site speed too. It can be found in Behaviour>Site speed>Overview>Page timings.

Here you will see pages that are performing badly so you can deep dive into the issues and fix them. Many businesses place the most emphasis on fast loading homepages which isn’t necessarily bad as they are the often the most visited pages, but what about your other primary landing pages?

What are the most common issues that lead to a slow website?

It can be overwhelming when you realise how many different things affect your sites performance but below are 4 of the biggest causes for a slow website:

  • 1. Images
    Images that have ben uploaded to your website that aren’t prepared to the correct size or haven’t been compressed can lead to rapid decline in page load speed. We had a client that had inexperienced internal teams uploading images to their website that were 4-6mb in size. Fortunately this was caught fairly quickly and remedied but continued actions such as this would lead to a slow loading website and poor user experience. Putting in place easy to follow SOP (standard operating procedures) for internal marketing teams for how to prepare and upload images helped. Deploying plugin tools for your website such as EWWW Optimiser can also automate some of this process and be a good fallback solution for ensuring your images are as small as they can be without sacrificing quality. Ensuring that your website also lazy loads certain images at certain points will ensure that your website loads quicker.
  • 2. Video
    Videos on websites can quickly get out of control with even small looped videos being 50mb+ in size if not optimised. Videos look great on websites, we even use one on our homepage, but they come with a risk. Unless properly optimised and prepared, video content can massively damage your on-page user experince and also your SEO rankings if they cause a slow loading page. Preparing and optimising a video in a variety of formats (.mp4, .webm, .ogv) so that everyone can experience it is key. There are plenty of online resources such as to help you convert and optimise your videos. 
  • 3. Badly structured code
    Often you will see notes about “moving javascript to the bottom of your page” or “compressing components with gzip”. Tools such as WP Rocket can help you with optimising your sites code (CSS, Javascript). Minifying CSS and Javascript helps it be delivered in smaller or less packets of data. You can also defer the loading of javascript on the page which improves the page load experience. When using a tool like WP Rocket, you need to be very careful that you don’t over optimise, which yes, will give you great results, but may reduce the overall experience for your visitor to the point where some functions may fail to load or display incorrectly.
  • 4. TTFB (Time to first byte)
    Refers to how long it takes for your server to fetch and display your website to your visitor. Its largely out of your control but the speed of various website hosting platforms varies massively (a post to come on this soon). You want to ensure that you are getting a good ROI on your hosting platform of choice. Pick someone based on the demand your website is likely to get. Ensure its scalable as your business increases.

These are just a handful of the issues that can cause slow downs on your website which as outline above can lead to a loss in business revenue.

Web site optimisation, like website SEO should be on your monthly list of projects to keep on top of. We fully understand that it’s just another annoying thing to deal with, and with all of the demands of a business, it often goes neglected. Even the largest blue chip companies with huge dev teams still neglect their sites load speed…we see it all of the time.

Begin by checking the health of your website and start working through the list. Once you have your site in good shape put together some actionable steps to regularly check, assess and modify your site to keep things running fast and smooth. Your business will thank you for it later!

All talk and no action?

We wouldn’t be a very good Branding, Design and Digital specialists if we didn’t practice what we preached right? Above you will see our results for Google page speed, Pingdom and Gmetrix. Always some room for improvement but the results speak for themselves.

In conclusion

If you find after testing your own business that things aren’t quite running as fast as perhaps they were on your sites launch, then don’t worry, help is at hand.

Most businesses don’t have experienced internal web development or creative teams. Hiring a full time developer is expensive but it doesn’t mean you should leave things like website speed unattended.

Connect with our team for a free website assessment. We can then chat with you to provide our recommended approach to getting the issues resolved along with some best practice steps to keeping your website running fast going forward. Don’t lose anymore business to your slow site. Connect with us now for a free 15 minute consultation.