Website Speed Matters – here’s why
Have you ever walked into a restaurant and waited over an hour for your food?
I’m going to assume you almost certainly have, or have at least waited longer than you should have.
How did that feel?
I bet it was extremely frustrating that you were forced to sit there for what felt like eternity, half expecting your food to never come – made even worse at the fact you were starving hungry. You might have even had a place to be and had to leave without your food.
After this experience, did you feel like going back to the restaurant?
It’s the same feeling when it comes to the speed of your website.
If your website takes too long to load, the people that land onto it are going to feel the same frustrations you feel when you wait too long for your food. There’s a good chance that these people will leave your website and never come back.
But there’s even more to it than that.
Your website speed is part of a whole optimisation ecosystem with Google, and if it’s slow, Google doesn’t like it.
What is site speed – 3 reasons why it matters
The speed of your website refers to how long it takes to load a fully functional web page from a browser. In other words, how long it takes to load your website from Google.
If your website takes a long time to load, it’s slow. If your website takes next to no time to load, it’s fast.
On average, websites take about 2.5 seconds to load on desktop, and 8.6 seconds to load on mobile.
Just like the restaurant example, website speed is important because a slow website will drive customers away – this will hurt your bottom line.
But surely a matter of a few seconds is nothing, right? You’re not waiting hours for food to arrive at your table, you’re waiting briefly, probably from the comfort of your own home, for a web page to load.
Unfortunately a few seconds can make a massive difference – website speed is the most important factor in running an online business.
There are three reasons why those few seconds matter:
A bounce, or bounce rate, is when someone lands on a page and doesn’t explore further. In practical terms, if someone clicks on your website from Google, and then leaves without exploring more than the first page they land on, that increases your bounce rate.
Your website speed will significantly affect your bounce rate.
Think about it, if you click on something and it doesn’t seem to be loading, you pretty quickly press the back button.
Even though the average time to load a website on mobile is 8.6 seconds, a study shows if it takes more than three seconds to load a page on mobile, 53% of site visitors will leave.
On mobile, your website needs to be 286% faster than average in order for half of your visitors to stay.
If we look at the extremities of website load speed, a website that takes 10 seconds to load compared to a website that takes one second to load will have a 123% higher bounce rate.
Your conversion rate is the rate at which you turn people that land on your site into customers.
If the load time of your website drops by just one second, the rate at which you turn visitors into customers drops by 4.42%.
This means that if you’re an ecommerce site that makes $100,000 a day in sales, a one second delay in load time will lose you $1.533 million per year – this statistic doesn’t take into account the revenue lost from an increased bounce rate as well. In reality, a $1.533 million per year loss is understated.
Why would a slow website lower the conversion rate? If they aren’t bouncing off and making it through to your website, why would they be less likely to convert.
Let’s go back to our restaurant example.
If you’ve been waiting for your food for over an hour, once it does come, how likely are you to enjoy that meal? As soon as it arrives at your table, are you going to instantly forget the fact you’ve been waiting?
Once people have built up a degree of frustration, it is hard for them to enjoy their meal, or in terms of your website speed, it’s harder for them to choose your business over another.
The last element to why website speed is important is that it negatively affects your SEO. If you don’t know, SEO is how your website is ranked in Google – the better your SEO is, the higher up the page your website will be shown.
Google always wants you to be serving the people that land on your site, and wants them to have the best experience possible. If people are having a bad experience on your website, by association they’re having a bad experience on Google, so why would Google recommend your site if people don’t like it?
As such, if your website is slow, you won’t be giving people landing on your site the best experience possible, and Google won’t recommend your website.
Do you often go to page two of Google to find what you’re looking for? Probably not, and you’re not alone – 90% of people don’t bother going beyond the first page.
Let’s say you attract 1,000 people to your site per day through organic traffic, you convert 5% of them, and their average spend is $50 – you would be making $2,500 a day. Now let’s say you slipped to page two of Google because your website speed dropped by only one second, and Google penalised you for it. You’d only have 250 people landing on your site, converting 12.5 of them, and earning $625 a day. Because of a one second drop in website speed, you would be making $684,375 less per year just because of SEO – along with conversion rate and bounce rate, this number would be far greater.
It’s astonishing to think how damaging just one second in website speed can be.
All this being said, what actually affects website speed?
7 Common issues affecting the speed of a website
As we’ve shown, every second counts when it comes to the speed of your website, so you need to be aware of what’s going to make it slow, or get a professional website design team to handle it for you.
As such, here are 7 common issues that affects your website speed you should be aware of:
When it comes to coding, keep it simple. There’s no point overengineering your site with overly-complicated superfluous code that is more difficult to implement, easy to break, and hard to fix. Having this extra code wont add a heap of extra meaningful value to your site, and it will most likely just cause a problem down the road, as well as slow your website.
If it’s not needed, don’t add it.
Some of the things likely to cause a problem when writing superfluous code include:
- Monitoring tools
That isn’t to say you shouldn’t use these things, but you should critically reflect the reason for why you’re implementing them and if you really need them.
Poorly structured code
If someone started speaking to you in broken English, and english was the only language that you could speak, do you think you’d take longer to understand them?
You probably would.
Code is just a language that is used to communicate to computers. So if your code is poorly written or poorly structured, computers will have a harder time trying to understand it and it will take longer to load your website.
Poorly written code will increase:
- Invalid HTML markups
- Resource hungry processes
The hosting platform
Let’s say your website is something in your pantry and the pantry is your hosting server. If your pantry is beautifully organised, it’ll be very easy to find whatever you need. Meanwhile if it’s in a disorganised heap, it’ll take a lot longer to find whatever you need.
This is the same as your hosting platform/CMS that you use.
If your hosting platform is messy and inefficient, it’ll increase the time it takes to load your website.
The hosting platform you choose will make a significant impact on the speed of your website. If you make the wrong choice, it can be an expensive mistake to fix, so you should ask a professional for their opinion.
If you aren’t going to get a professional website design team to help you with this decision, here are some of the performance factors that you should consider when hosting your website:
- Server response time: By evaluating the time to first byte (TTFB), you can get an idea of how long it takes for the server to respond to the first request.
- Equipment: If the server uses SSD cards, they are much faster than mechanical drives.
- Accounts per server: Servers with a lot of users can start to slow down, so it’s always a good idea to see how many accounts are on the platform.
“Everything you add to your website has a performance cost, the more you add the slower your site gets” – Adam Butterworth, Head Developer at Invicta Agency.
Have you ever tried sending a video to a friend and it takes forever to load?
Everyone has said that annoying phrase “hold on it’s still sending” or “it won’t bloody load!”
Your website is no different to these messages.
The more content you put on there, like GIFs, videos and images, the longer it will take to load.
We recommend two things:
- We’re starting to sound like a broken record, but the first thing we recommend is to keep it simple. If it doesn’t make sense for your business to upload a video or a GIF on your homepage, then don’t do it.
- The second thing is, if you need to upload images or videos, keep them off the home page and instead place them on a separate pillar page. Your homepage is the front door to your online business and first impressions last – keep this page as fast as possible.
When adding features to your website, consider your performance cost, and at which point do you stop adding features in order to maintain website speed? This is a question that you must ask yourself.
Let’s go back to our restaurant example again.
If you place an order with a waiter, and the waiter mills about before they send your order to the kitchen, or they totally forget to put it through, no doubt your food will take a long time to get to you.
A HTTP request is the same as a waiter in a restaurant, and the server is the kitchen. You, the customer, sends the HTTP request to the server to then bring you a website. If the HTTP request gets confused or lost along the way, it will take longer to load the website.
For the best performance, look out for a server that uses HTTP2, which is far quicker than HTTP1.
When you land on a website, your desktop or phone will save files for later in something that’s called a “cache”. Your device and the browser you’re using does this so when you revisit a website, it can load quicker because a lot of the information is saved.
It’s faster to load a website locally than on the internet – with cache, elements of both happen.
With effective caching, you can:
- Reduce page load times
- Speed up repeat page visits
- Use less bandwidth
Some things can be stored in a cache for an extended period of time, and some things for not as long. An experienced developer can optimise your cache to be as efficient as possible with cache control, which will speed up your website.
Content delivery networks
If you’re a business that has customers spread over a large geographical area, your website might slow down.
This is because the further a device is when it makes a HTTP request from the server, the longer it takes to load a website.
But don’t worry, because there is a solution.
Content delivery networks (CDNs) are like mini servers, or nodes, that are spread around a country or the world, in order to hold cached copies of your website. By using these CDNs you can boost the speed of your website for everyone, wherever they are.
You should speak to a professional team to evaluate if you need to use a CDN, and where you should have one.
Forgetting to optimise for mobile
When people think about accessing a website, they think of someone sitting down in their office chair and using a desktop computer to access it.
But did you know that 54.8% of global website searches are on mobile, not desktop – that’s over half.
A lot of people fall into the trap of not realising that mobile accounts for over half of the traffic online, and they only optimise their websites to desktop – this is a huge mistake and it’s very easy to fix.
Make sure both your developers and your designers optimise both desktop and mobile.
So, if these are the common issues, how do you actually test the speed of your website?
How to test website speed
If you want to test your website, and you’re wondering how fast should a website load, it’s very easy, there’s many different tools you can use online.
We recommend using PageSpeed Insights to check your website loading speed. The report it gives you is very easy to read – if your stats are in the green, orange or red they are good, okay and bad respectively.
Let’s say your website comes out slow in the test – what do you do?
You need to go to a professional to get your website optimised.
Where can you get your website built and optimised?
At Invicta Agency, we are a growth consultancy that specialises in digital solutions to scale your business – this includes creating and optimising websites. This means we won’t sell you a specific digital marketing package where we hit our key point indicators (KPIs) outlined in your contract and be done with it. Instead, we believe in a holistic approach to scaling your business, where we do what is necessary, when it’s necessary, in order to grow your business.
If we need to increase your organic search for one part of your business, there’s no point in making content for something else, just because that’s what your contract says and that’s what we’re obligated to do. At Invicta Agency, we are agile enough to pull the right levers at the right time to maximise your business’ growth.
We’ve worked with many different industries and increased the online enquiries of some businesses by up to 900%.
Send us an enquiry or give us a call today – let’s start a conversation on how we will get your business to where it deserves to be.