Digital: Speed kills? Not on the world-wide web

Digital

Speed kills? Not on the world-wide web

By Kishan Hansjee April 11, 2017 • 4 minutes to read

In today’s world of UberEats, same-day-delivery, Amazon drone delivery and everything available to you at the touch of your fingertips, we’ve become incredibly used to getting things incredibly fast. Society has become increasingly impatient, and it’s this impatience that could be affecting your business’ bottom line.

In a study conducted by Ramesh Sitaraman, a computer science professor at University of Massachusetts, it was discovered that after waiting just two seconds for a video to load, users begun closing the page. Furthermore, after five seconds, the drop-off rate hit 25%. After ten seconds, you have lost half of your users.

These findings built upon a study called ‘The Psychology of Decisions to Abandon Waits for Service’. In this study, users were prompted to download a file, with certain users subjected to downloads being frozen. Predictably, a large number of users forced to wait for the download eventually abandoned the process.

The scary part? The former study was conducted in 2013. Four years later, with ever increasing internet speeds, you simply can’t afford poor page load performance on your business’ website. It will affect your conversion rates, and thus your bottom line!

Page speed is a critical part of the user experience (UX) of a website, but one that is sometimes overlooked. After all, it is essentially your website’s first impression, and we all know how much those count.

Here are three top tips for better page load speeds:

1. Optimise images

One of the primary causes of slow page load speeds, are big, heavy images with huge file sizes. After all, browsers need to download images every time the page loads. There is a fine balance to be struck here, though. Reduce the pixel size and quality of your images too much, and you risk a similar effect on conversion. My solution is to use an image optimisation service - with my preferred option being TinyPNG.

2. Reduce the number of plugins and scripts

On the most popular CMS platforms on the web, there is a plethora of plugins and scripts that can do anything from load social media feeds onto your site, to add visually effective animations. While these plugins help the novice website administrator build a seemingly impressive website, they often require an array of CSS stylesheets and Javascript libraries. All of this adds considerable weight, and load time to your website. My solution is to place your faith in a professional digital agency with expertise in UI/UX and development, which will result in an optimally performing website.

 3. File compression

The size of the files that make up a webpage impact on that particular pages’ load time. The greater the file size, the more there is for your browser to download and render, the longer it takes to load the page. Think of file compression as zipping your website files, then serving them. This can compress your HTML and CSS files by up to 70%, drastically improving your website’s speed.

I’m sure you must be wondering how your website stacks up against the clock. Find out if your site is tortoise or hare by checking out Google Page Speed Insights. Simply paste your website’s URL into the box, and let Google do all the work.

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