How to improve your site speed

A great site speed can not only improve your user experience but can have a positive affect on all of your marketing activity from paid search to SEO.

What is website site speed?

Simply put, website site speed is the relative time it takes for a website to load its assets to a user’s device. The physical time it takes this process to complete can vary depending on the speed and bandwidth of the server and of the user’s connection; in addition to the physical distance between the host and the client.

Why is site speed important?  

A slow loading website is detrimental to the user experience of a website. It creates frustration subconsciously in users who have become accustomed to quick loading times and slick animations. Ultimately this results in a larger drop off rate of users who fail to complete sessions and convert; costing revenue.

Google/SOASTA research from 2017 estimates that the probability that a user will bounce off of your website increases by 32% at 3 seconds in comparison to a 1 second load time. This increases yet again to 90% at a 5 second load time. 

Not only does site speed play a key role in user experience, studies show that it can be directly correlated with higher rankings in Google’s search results pages. It’s actually been a year now since Google announced that page speed would be a ranking factor for mobile searches.

How do I find out my site speed score?

You can check your website performance by running it through Google’s website performance test known as ‘PageSpeed Insights”. PageSpeed insights will provide you with an index of your website speed for both desktop and mobile devices; with mobile being tested on a 3g connection. If you’re not sure who to interpret the insights, we’ve got you covered, check out our previous blog on the matter.

The index score that is assigned to your website is relative to other websites that google has crawled and tested, with 0-49 being slow, 50-89 being average and 90+ being fast. Insights will then suggest methods to improve your site speed.

Interested to see how some of the biggest brands shape up?

Top 3 reasons for slow loading websites and what you can do to combat these

1. Unoptimised Images

The biggest cause of slow loading websites is unoptimised images and this can be easily fixed. To optimise an image, you can ensure that the sizing of the image is correct for its purpose. E.g, if an image is going to be a full width banner image across the page, it may be worth ensuring that the image is no wider than 2500px or a portrait image no taller than 1000px. You can then add compression to the images. Compression reduces the file size of an image whilst balancing the image quality against the tradeoff of reduced file size. 

A great tool to reduce file size is TingPNG.com, it’s also free! Another technique to use to simply resize your images is by user Photoshop or Preview on Apple Macs.

2. Code Size

Gzip compression is also vitally important. Gzip compression checks the code of the website and compresses the size of it, similar to the image compression mentioned previously. Any duplicate lines of code should hopefully be picked up and compressed through this method. Around 90% of websites today support Gzip so this program is a no-brainer and often overlooked by developers!

3. Javascript and CSS

Render blocking content such as Javascript and CSS should also be deferred until after the initial above the fold content has loaded into the page. What this means is that the user should see the content of the website first, even if it isn’t styled and looks a bit broken; that way users on a slow connection can still get some use out of the site.

Similarly on mobile, the biggest impact to site speed is javascript intensive websites. 70% of users access mobile sites on a 3g connection in addition to  javascript being very processor intensive for mobile devices.

By following the 3 areas above it will help get your page speed score up. Results may not be instant as it will take time for the changes to take effect as visitors come back to your website.

Still struggling to improve your site speed?

Our experienced team of developers would be happy to help!

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Written by Luke Hegarty

Front-End Developer