The Importance of Website Load Speed
There are few people who will argue that website load speed is not important. It can be a major source of frustration but this can ultimately lead to a negative effect on your bottom line of your profit and loss account resulting from the loss of business.
This may sound a little drastic but in actual fact there are studies that will back this up. Recently some surveys were conducted by Akamai and Gomez.com and the result showed that more than 50% of users expect websites to load in under 2 seconds. Frighteningly, the majority of these will give up if the page hasn’t loaded in 3 seconds. The study also showed that 79% of online shoppers wouldn’t visit a website again if they had a bad loading experience and 44% of these would tell a friend or colleague about the experience.
How do you know how quickly your website loads?
One of the easiest ways to find out how quickly your website is loading is to use a website like tools.pingdom.com which will not only give you your load speed but also make recommendations for improvements.
How can you optimise load speed?
There are always ways that you can decrease load speed regardless of how quickly your site loads. Here are some suggestions that may help you:
Optimise Website Images
Wherever possible try to reduce the size of the images on your site. Photoshop and Fireworks can assist you here without compromising the quality of the image too seriously
Cache Your Site
Plugins such as WP Super Cache can help you to cache the latest version of your website therefore reducing the need for a browser to generate the page every load. Content management systems such as WordPress often have plugins built in
Get a Suitable Network
If your website is particularly popular you will need to network that is capable of being able to cope with the traffic. Amazon Cloudfront which is a Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a great option here and will undoubtedly increase your load speed
Use GZIP compression
This is best discussed with your web host although if done correctly it is possible to reduce files sizes by as much as 70% – again without significantly reducing the quality of images or videos on the site.
Does Google care about load time?
Google takes a very keen interest in load time as well as listening to what their user want and demand. Google frequently consult with surfers and in a recent experiment Google Vice President Marissa Mayer asked users if they thought 10 or 30 results per page was best? The answer was not surprisingly 30 results per page so Google made the changes.
The outcome was that the load speed of the page was slowed by around 0.5 seconds but amazingly this lead to drop in traffic of around 20%. This just demonstrates the degree that you need to go to in order to shave time off your load speeds. If this is Google, imagine the consequences for your website for a half second delay.