Everyone hates a website that loads slowly. Consumers today have grown accustomed to near-instant results and a smooth online experience. Even the slightest hiccup on your website can cause visitors to abandon your site.
In today’s highly competitive market, having a fast website has become a requirement. Otherwise, your customers will turn to the competition for the online experience you fail to offer.
Why Does Website Load Time Matter?
A slow-loading website will kill your conversions. Consider some of the prevalent user experience and SEO statistics. On average, 47% of consumers have an expectation of two second load times or less. Even more shocking is the fact that 40% of consumers will abandon a page if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
More than half of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices. And according to recent mobile optimization statistics, most mobile sites take 15 seconds to load on average. With most visitors abandoning sites after 3 seconds it has become more vital than ever to improve web page load time for mobile devices.
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How Is Page Load Time Measured?
Measuring page load times will give you an idea of how fast (or slow) your website is rendering for visitors. Tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse Audits measure a variety of relevant metrics to determine the average web page load time of your website.
After running a few tests, you may find that your site sits below the average page load times. Unless you’re a web developer, you may not know how to improve the load time of a website.
Making the proper corrections will set you apart from your competition.
How to Improve Page Load Speed Across Your Site
Average page load time is determined by a variety of factors. Understanding ways to reduce page load time will help you to greatly increase site speed and ultimately improve the performance of your website.
Here are a few tips to help you figure out how to speed up website load time.
1. Reduce the Number of HTTP Requests
When a web page first loads, numerous elements must download such as scripts, images, and stylesheets. It turns out that 80% of the load time for a web page is spent downloading the various elements of the page.
Each part of a webpage has an HTTP request made on its behalf; the more components on a page the longer it takes to fully load. To improve page load speed, determine how many HTTPS requests your website is making (this can be done by accessing Google Chrome’s developer tools).
Reduce the number of HTTPS requests your site is making by minifying and combining files. This process will accomplish two goals:
- Reducing the size of each file on your site
- Reducing the total number of files on your site
Minifying the files on your website will eliminate a lot of unnecessary code, formatting, and whitespace. The result will be a leaner, faster website.
What about sites that use PHP to deliver HTML, CSS and JS files? If you’re using a WordPress website, you don’t necessarily need to know how to improve website performance in PHP. Instead, consider installing the Autoptimize plugin. This will make the process of minifying your files simplistic and quick.
If that file were asynchronous, the various elements of the page would continue loading even as that particular file continues to render. The answer is obvious – use asynchronous loading for non-critical JS or CSS files to speed up page load time.
3. Compress Images
Another great trick to speed up website load time is to compress images. The images uploaded to your site can be bulky and cause a significant strain on page load time.
WordPress plugins such as WP Smush are highly reviewed and provide the perfect solution to your image compression woes. With just a few clicks and a bit of patience, you’ll be able to compress the images on your site and experience a significant speed boost in the process.
Alternatively, you can losslessly compress images using free web platforms. TinyPNG is a popular tool for both PNG and JPEG compression. In 2016, Google publicly released their own image compression program called Guetzli. Unfortunately, there are very few free online tools using this program, but more tech savvy marketers can use the open source program on a local machine.
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4. Leverage Browsing Caching
Whenever you visit a website, the elements on the page you’re viewing will download to a temporary storage folder in your browser known as a cache. This allows for faster load times because the page won’t have to bother with another HTTP request for certain CSS and JS files the next time you visit the site.
You can experience website speed improvement by enabling caching on your site. Though this method doesn’t speed up your website for first-time visitors (you’ll have to rely upon other methods for that), you’ll significantly improve load times for returning visitors.
5. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
You can leverage outside servers to improve page load times for your visitors. Hosting your site on a single server means that a request is sent to that specific server each time a user visits your site.
In instances of high traffic, all of your users will experience a significant slowdown due to the sheer number of requests being made at a single time. A Content Delivery Network (CDN) can help to alleviate the strain on your website.
A CDN allows you to cache your site on a network of servers that are based around the globe. When a user visits your site, all requests will be routed to the closest server. CDN’s help to eliminate latency issues that users tend to experience when they’re physically far away from the hosting server.
Cloudflare is one of the most popular CDN’s on the web, but there are several providers to choose from.
Boost Your Bottom Line with Website Load Time Optimization
Knowing how to optimize website speed is a skillset every digital marketer should have in their back pocket. This list is by no means all-inclusive, but you’ll undoubtedly boost the speed of your site by employing the above tactics.
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