Having a lightening fast website is an absolute necessity if you wish your business to thrive in a competitive world of the online business. Unfortunately for a lot of site owners, website performance is still not at the top of the priority list of those who are responsible for maintaining the effectiveness of a website, whether it's an assigned web developer, designer, or a hired agency.
At the end of the day, unimpressive site speed can hinder user experience, negatively impact conversion rates, frustrate visitors, and eventually put your whole business at risk.
To back these words with data, consider the following statistics:
- According to Kissmetrics, around 40% of visitors will abandon the site if it takes more than three seconds to load.
- Radware says that a two-second delay during a transaction can result in up to 87% abandonment rate, while 46% of online shoppers identify website speed as a determinant factor as to whether they will return to the site or not.
- Abode reports that almost 40% will stop engaging with the site if images don't load properly or do not load at all.
- According to Crazyegg, a 1-second delay in load time results in 11% fewer page views, 16% decrease in customer satisfaction and 7% decrease in conversions.
- Amazon claims that a 1-second website delay could potentially cost them $1.6 billion in sales each year.
Now that you have a slight understanding of how a slow-performing website could severely damage your business, let's dig down a little bit deeper and evaluate why it all matters.
Why It All Matters
Considering the facts above, it's safe to say that your website performance can break or make your business — but what's so imperative about the speed? Why should we all focus on this aspect? How can we benefit from an improved performance?
UX is all about creating a fast, visually appealing, reliable, intuitive, and seamless website experience for your visitors. Whether you are running an e-commerce business, a blog, or a corporate website, it's imperative to provide users with what they are looking for in a fast and reliable way.
Otherwise, in the world where every second is priceless, users will abandon the site before you even try to persuade them that it is worth of every second of their time. Consequently, if you aren't able to show that immediately to your users, they will choose someone else.
It's the First Impression
If you think about it, loading time is the first thing users encounter with when visiting your website. Visitors tend to judge the quality of the site within the first three to five seconds of landing. Hence, if all of this time is spent looking at the white screen, the first impression would certainly be negative. On the other hand, if the site proves to be fast, it would leave users with a positive feeling about you and your business.
It’s a known fact that website speed is one of more than 200 Google's ranking factors. Furthermore, with the recent deployment of AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), it becomes a clear indication that Google is obsessed with speed, pushing webmasters towards radical improvements. Consequently, not only slow sites can hinder user experience, but also drown it in the ocean of search results.
That’s where it all gets very serious. As it has been mentioned above, a 1-second delay could potentially lead to a decrease in conversion rate by 7%, slowly but surely making a hole in your business wallet. To put this into numbers, a business that is making $2,000,000 a year in sales could potentially be losing $140,000 every single year.
Having a snail-slow website will make it extremely challenging retaining customers and visitors, especially when considering the fact that around 75% of visitors won't come back anyway. We simply don't get the second chance.
Identifying the Problem
Answer this: How did you end up reading this post? Did some of your visitors complain about the speed? Did you notice a change in performance yourself? Or do you just want to avoid potential consequences?
Anyway, let's consider the following first.
Identifying the Primary Cause
Before proceeding with the actual tips, you'll need to identify where the primary issue is coming from. Understanding the core problem is like identifying and eliminating the cause of a disease, stopping it from spreading to other parts of the organism.
Here are some common causes:
- Poor hosting.
- Badly coded WordPress theme.
- Unoptimized images.
- Heavy and conflicting plugins.
- Too many individual scripts.
- Self-hosted videos.
- Messy database.
Tools to Speed-Test Your Website
Before you make a head start trying to figure out every technical aspect, it's vital to test the current state of your website using different tools across different geographical locations.
Some of the most popular tools include the following.
Google PageSpeed Insights: An official speed testing tool brought by the "almighty" Google. Although it doesn't provide the actual speed, it gives some insightful recommendations along with a speed score from 0-100.
Pingdom: An amazing tool that provides you with a performance grade, website speed, page size, number of requests and a waterfall of file requests. Enables you to test the speed from five different geographical locations.
GTMetrix:This tool is comprised of three main reports: PageSpeed, YSlow, and Waterfall. Once registered, you can test the speed of your site from seven different locations using different browsers.
Before you get lost in the woods of website performance optimization, you need to set adequate goals. Although there is no crime being passionate about outrunning Google in terms of website speed, you need to be realistic. Chaotically disabling every plugin & deleting stylesheets may not result in what you are looking for.
A handy tool called Performance Budget Calculator by Jonathan Fielding will give you some heads up. Simply input your desired load time, select a connection speed, and the tool will provide you with an estimated page size.
Stay tuned for the next article. We'll be talking about 20 ways to speed up your site.