Why website speed and performance matters

Website speed can affect your bottom line

There’s no doubt that having a fast-loading, high performance website is crucial to your business. How often have you given up on a slow website because it was taking ages to load? If you’re anything like us, it probably makes you feel as impatient as we do when waiting for ages in a bank or a shop as it does when you’re waiting to view web content. In fact, DoubleClick by Google found 53% of mobile site visits were abandoned if a page took longer than three seconds to load. That doesn’t leave much wiggle room!

Lactlais Web Design Samsung Samsung Galaxy S10

Mobile usage is rising significantly as people continue to invest in high-end smartphones and we all have shorter attention spans on handheld devices. For every one second delay in load time, there is a:

  • 3.5% decrease in conversion rates
  • 8.3% increase in bounce rates
  • 2.1% decrease in shopping cart size, and
  • 9.4% decrease in page views.

Website speed and your bottom line

There’s sound business reasoning behind optimising your website for performance. The website wpostats.com is a brilliant curated list of statistics that proves how much even a tiny reduction in load time can improve conversion rates and sales.

When The Trainline reduced latency (the time it takes to get a reply from the server) by 0.3 seconds across their funnel, customers spent an extra £8 million a year. Zalando saw a 0.7% increase in revenue when they shaved just 0.1 seconds off their load time and when fashion retailer, Missguided, improved load time by four seconds, revenue increased by 26%.

The Financial Times actually experimented by adding a one second delay to every page view and saw a 4.9% drop in the number of articles users read over a seven day window. A two second delay resulted in a 4.4% drop, and a three second delay saw a 7.2% drop. After 28 days the two and three second variants both resulted in further drops in engagement.

How does web page speed affect my Google ranking?

The speed of your website also makes a difference to how easy it is for current and potential customers to find you easily. Since 2018, speed has been a ranking factor for mobile websites and it’s been part of Google’s search results algorithm on desktop devices for even longer. Google says that: “The goal of our search is to give people results they can use and load pages people can use quickly.”

It makes a lot of sense to pay attention to this and we have coded all of our responsive mobile-first bespoke websites to be optimised for mobile speed since 2015. If you’re not sure whether your current site is fast or not, it’s very easy to test your website’s speed using Google’s PageSpeed tool.

Going green

Believe it or not, a slow and badly constructed website can also be bad for the environment. Surprisingly, the devices we use and servers that store websites account for 2% of global carbon emissions; that’s the same as the aviation industry!

If you have lots of unused code, it takes up storage space on servers or worse is sent to a user unnecessarily. Similarly, images and videos that are too big for the device viewing the site and coded inefficiently is also a no-no. Choosing the right website host (ours is carbon neutral and we also run on the Google Cloud network), designing and building a website with clean and crisp code (a key priority for our developers) can improve your website speed and save energy.

It pays to make your site more efficient to protect the environment and keep ongoing website costs lower.

Website design and improved user experience

High-performance websites can be extremely sophisticated, but are designed to look simple and uncluttered to reduce cognitive overload. This can also help improve the user journey, as well as your website speed.

We always try to avoid the use of superfluous images or overloaded image carousels that a user might not even look at. It’s a good idea to avoid unnecessary fonts and font weights and use vector graphics where possible. This can be seen in action on the fast-loading websites we created for CAMA and Oktra.

Oktra website design

If a website does require a lot of images, especially in a slider, then we code the page to allow the rest of the content to load around the slider and make the page functional without JavaScript. We use the principles of progressive enhancement in our development and load the extra images and slider scripts later. Whether a slider or carousel enhances the user experience is debatable, but if we use one, we always do it without sacrificing performance.

Global websites

In the UK’s cities we have fairly good 4G coverage, although even in London there are still some areas with poor signal. If a user happens to load your website in a black spot, on a train or when they are using a lot of data at the same time page load time can feel very slugglish. This is part of the reason why a lot of users like mobile apps; on a mobile app most of the data required to display content is already pre loaded onto the device when you install the app. However, developing a website, Apple iOS Application and Android application can become very expensive. For this reason we are currently rebuilding our own website as a Progressive Web App (read more on our PWA blog post).

If your website is being viewed globally, then mobile connection speed is a major consideration. We built the Global mobile Suppliers Association’s WordPress membership website with this in mind, since it’s viewed across over 200 countries. What happens if a user in New Zealand wants to load a site served from our carbon neutral servers in London? Internet signals travel at the speed of light, but sending data halfway around the world still takes a bit of time. For this reason we use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) where possible. This means several copies of the website’s main files are stored in several data centres around the world. When a user requests one of our client’s web pages, the CDN network automatically routes their request to the nearest data centre. Clever stuff… and it also shaves vital milliseconds off the page load time.

Some people believe the roll-out of 5G will make website performance less of an issue. However, many users won’t be viewing your site on the latest iPhone or full-spec MacBook Pro. Badly optimised websites take longer to render, even when all of the data has been sent to the device. Performance is not just about load time, it’s also about the computation required to display the web page on a device. JavaScript-heavy or reliant websites are a real culprit in this scenario, as well as using larger images than necessary; why send a 10MB image to an old phone or tablet?

“What is speed without direction? What is direction without purpose?”

In short, a faster website equals increased sales, happier users and better SEO results. It clearly pays to invest wisely in developing a high-performance, super-fast site to support your business goals.

Your website designers and developers should be heavily focused on optimising speed and performance throughout the website process. This, combined with strong SEO and intelligent marketing automation, can make a huge difference to the future growth of your business.

(Quote by author, Paul Bamikole)

If you’d like to know more about turbo-charging your website, please get in touch using the form below…

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We can run a speed audit on your website and provide a number of recommendations for where to optimise your website performance. Book a chat today.

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