First, we challenge you to find out how fast your site loads. It’s ok, we’ll wait…1…2…stop! If it takes more than three seconds, it’s too long.
Studies have shown that about half of your customers expect your site to load within two seconds. Beyond that, you start to lose them. And unfortunately in the fickle world of the web, one poor user experience can lead to a bad review, which means a loss of potential sales over what seems like no big deal.
There are plenty of resources available to help you test your load time and view what might be causing delays. One of which includes Google’s new (April 2016) Page Speed Online. Just type in your URL, then click ANALYZE, and find ways your developer can improve your page load speed.
Additional steps you can take to decrease page load time:
Use small images for the sake of the big picture.
Many people make the mistake of relying on HTML to resize images for them, but the problem is that the browser still has to load the original file before decreasing the image size for display, further causing delays. There is usually very little visual trade-off to decreasing the image size to make it appropriate for web. Keep in mind we are talking about size in the context of kilobytes or megabytes, not the pixels and dimensions of the photo. Photoshop has a “Save for Web” option that makes this easy. The smaller the image you can get away with, without disrupting the page aesthetic, the faster your load time.
Compress your files for faster delivery.
GZIP compression can be used on sites to decrease the size of a file significantly, without a loss in quality. It saves bandwidth, increases speed, and works with most modern browsers. The server will pull a compressed version from a zip file, and essentially deliver it to your very impatient potential customer, much faster than if it had to search for a larger, individual html file.
Small file = faster load times = happy potential customer = better chance of making a sale.
Store code in external files for better efficiency.
“Cache in” (haha) on your time savings.
Cache plugins can work wonders to save time by eliminating the browser’s need to generate a page every time the user goes to it. Whenever a potential customer visits your website, they download all of the elements that make up the page, including the HTML document, stylesheets, images, etc. A cache automatically stores these files on their machine so when they return to your site, the additional downloads aren’t necessary, thus saving time.
There are other ways to decrease load time, but it all really depends on your user experience. Pay attention to the way your customers are navigating and exiting the site, and learn from it!