How fast (or slow) is your website?
The speed of your website probably isn’t something you think about day to day, but it can have a sizeable impact on your business.
Amazon calculates that a page load slowdown of one second could cost them 1.6 billion USD in lost sales each year.
Google has also calculated that by slowing its search results by just 400 milliseconds, they could lose 8 million searches per day – meaning they’d lose millions of dollars in AdWords revenue.
Speed matters, and this doesn’t just apply to multi billion-dollar companies. If you have a website that promotes, advertises or sells products or services for your business, then it applies to you.
A slower website results in higher bounce rates (users leaving your website after just visiting one page), and the less time spent on your website, the less likely visitors will convert into customers.
It’s not only your website visitors who care about slow load times either. Search engines, including Google, penalise websites that load slowly (in both desktop and mobile search results).
If your website is loading slowly, then you are also hurting your search engine rankings, which again, means less traffic to your website.
Google's research suggests the following impacts for slower sites, particularly on mobile devices.
Slow? How Slow?
Before taking action, you need to test your website to see how it performs. Most Google page speed tests are run from the United States, and can skew the results. We recommend using Pingdom’s speed test. It allows you to test your website from servers in Sydney, Australia.
Click here to test your website now, it takes less than a minute. Enter your website URL, select test from Pacific - Australia - Sydney, and click Start Test. The test will return information about the speed of your website.
The most important statistics are provided at the top. They are:
A ranking from 100 - 0, and a letter rating from A – F, with 100 and A being the best possible scores.
The total time taken to load your website from start to finish.
Understanding the results
Performance grade: A – B | Load time: <2s
If your performance grade is A – B, and your load time is under 2 seconds, then you don’t need to do anything! Your website is already super-fast, and you can stop reading here.
Performance grade: C - D | Load time: <5s
If your result is C – D, and your load time is under 5s, then your site isn’t too slow, but there are changes that could be made to get your site loading faster. Changes are likely to involve resizing and optimising images, and reducing the number of requests to reduce the total page size.
Performance grade: E - F | Load time: >5s
Your website is on the slow side, and needs some work to get it loading fast. Changes will likely include resizing and optimising images, reducing the number of requests, reducing the page size, optimising and combing the code files, and reducing third-party plugins and addons.
Getting your website up to speed
The most important thing you can do to improve the speed of your website (even if you are not a web developer) is to size and compress your images appropriately.
Reducing your image size adds valuable milliseconds to your website load time. If an image is 2000px by 2000px, but is only required to be 300px by 300px, then you are loading a lot of extra pixels that you don’t need.
Once your images are the correct size, you need to optimise your images. Optimising images reduces the overall size of the file without noticeably reducing the quality.
This can be done online with tools like Optimizilla, or on your website with plugins or extensions that optimise your images.
If you have made a series of changes to the content so that its optimised for the web and are still finding that your website is slow then there are some other elements that can potentially be improved.
Websites are like cars and can come in various sizes and 'weights' which translates into them requiring different size engines.
Shared hosting is the most basic form of hosting and is often implemented because it is the cheapest hosting solution for the customer. The basic premise of it is that one server will be used to host anywhere from 50-200 websites of which your site is only one. The resources that each website can demand from the server is capped which can lead to a slow-to-load website.
If you have an e-commerce website or showroom style site that is very product heavy and image heavy, you are likely to be able to make a significant difference to site speed by moving away from a shared hosting situation to a dedicated server or similar alternative. Talk to your hosting company about the options or your web development company.
All modern server set ups and Content Management Systems (CMS) have a cache functionality built into them. A cache is essentially web talk for saving content locally so that when your browser requests a page from the server, it already has the content saved and ready to be sent to you rather than needing to find and serve the files up.
Caching becomes relevant on heavy duty websites (such as high traffic sites that experience visitor peaks or e-commerce sites that have a larger amount of products).
It is also particularly relevant where you have a lot of returning visitors to your site, for example customers or members who will regularly be logging into their accounts on your site, visitors being brought back by re-marketing campaigns, or products/services where you have a long sales cycle with a lot of content to assist in the researching process. You should also take caching into account if you have invested in content marketing which again might bring the same visitors to your site on a regular basis.
Caching does need to be implemented in a custom manner to provide the best results, so again, talk to your website provider about ensuring this is optimised for your specific website and business requirements.
If you are frustrated about your current site speed/performance and think it can be improved, our team are happy to review how your site is currently performing and make specific recommendations to support your business goals.