What's slowing your website down?

Your website needs to do more than just look good. If you want your customers to find you, SEO is a crucial investment for your business, and website speed plays a key role in this.

Google's need for speed

The speed of your site has huge ramifications on its success. You can have the best website in the world with the most engaging content that your customers absolutely need to read, but if the pages aren't loading quickly enough, Google won't prioritise it in its search results. 

The good news is that there are numerous ways to accelerate your website's speed. 

As a web development agency, we've worked on our fair share of projects where the page speed of an existing website was an issue that needed solving. So here are a few of our tips for a speedier, Google-friendly website.

47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.*

Faster photos

Images often account for the majority of data on a website page. Optimising and reducing the file size of images can be a quick win for a faster load time

Of course, it's important not to sacrifice on quality, but professional photography and stock shots can generally be substantially smaller than people often think. 

A number of factors will need to be taken into consideration. It's easiest to do this in the early stages of a new website being designed but Google has put together a handy image optimisation checklist.

Some of the recommendations are a bit technical but a graphic design agency with digital experience could help with the processes involved.

40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.*

Rapidly responsive

If your website hasn't been designed so that it's responsive on mobile devices, anyone viewing it from a tablet or smartphone is likely to be tapping their fingers while they wait for it to load. In fact, they're more than likely going to tap their finger on the back button and visit another site.

We've already highlighted why responsive website design is essential for businesses, and faster loading time is just one of the considerations.

When a page has been designed to stack content and images efficiently for mobile devices, it not only displays quicker but Google will rank it higher on the results page when people are searching on a tablet or smartphone.

73% of mobile internet users have encountered a website that was too slow to load.*

Sluggish plug-ins

Depending on the platform that your website sits on and the content management software it uses, there may be plugins in the backend of the site for content that uses software like Flash or Java to display.

Too many of these will cause severe lagging and in many cases, especially on mobile, will cause the site to crash.

There are plenty of alternative ways to display this kind of content without using plugins. Updating your website with a content management system that doesn't rely on plugins can solve this.

High-speed hosting

No matter who builds your website, it will be hosted on a server. Server response time also affects load time.

Servers can be shared, dedicated, or otherwise. Naturally, server size will vary depending on the hardware and software used by your hosting company, so it's important that your web development agency is aware of your goals.

Of course, depending on the size and complexity of your website, whoever is providing you with website maintenance, hosting and support might be able to boost your page speed with some relatively simple tweaks.

However, this would require extra development work, which is why it's vital that you're working with the right website provider from the get go. You need a host that has the right capabilities and technologies to support your digital vision. The perfect scenario would be an agency that can offer both services.

A 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.*

Leave the hard work to the experts

As we mentioned earlier, Google has put together a series of helpful page-speed insights that cover everything from leveraging browser caching to optimising CSS.

We'd be the first to admit that a certain amount of technical know-how will be needed before you could implement all of these.

There are a variety of user-friendly tools to test your page speed. These will give you an overview on how to make improvements and what factors you need to consider.

While these tests can give you a better understanding of how your website is performing, it can do more damage if you try to rectify certain elements yourself.

It's worth remembering that some of these factors will have a very minimal impact on your page speed though.

If speed is something you are concerned with, give us a call and a website audit from our digital experts can give you the answers you need.

*Source: https://blog.kissmetrics.com/loading-time/

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