If you’ve noticed attention spans dropping, you aren’t imagining things. People are becoming easier to distract and more important. In this age of instant gratification, it’s important to bunker down and improve website performance.
Even if you have all the makings of a great website, SEO and original content aren’t everything. Page speed accounts for more than some people like to give it credit for.
Why is speed important? Read on while we take a deeper dive into it!
Speed will improve website performance
It’s no secret that attention spans are dwindling. In fact, studies have shown that in the past 16 years, human attention spans have dropped by 5 seconds, from 12 in 2000, to 7 seconds in 2016.
This means that you need to make your first impression count – every bit of it. Speed factors into it. If your audience has to wait for your website to load, they’re going to click away from it. That’s one less view that you can take advantage of, and your rankings will eventually suffer.
That’s right: Google and the army of search engines out there can and will penalize your site for being slow. You can have the most original content in the world and take advantage of great SEO strategies, but if you’re not literally up to speed, you’ll find that number 1 spot to be quite elusive.
Various different things can slow down your website. The amount of media, whether images or video, has an effect. These boost your page size, which makes it more difficult to download.
Also, what host you’re using can have an effect on page speed, along with your host’s location.
Other factors, including host configuration and plugins, play a role in page speed as well. However, we’ve got some tips to help you overcome those and get your page up to lightning speeds!
How to make your website faster
Server response time
You can use a monitoring application that checks for performance throttles and bottlenecks to determine your current server response time.
Different factors affect this. It could be possible that your server’s just having some downtime. Therefore, it’s important that you conduct this test more than once to find the best results.
However, if your host isn’t located in the same country, it may be time to make a switch.
For a ballpark to aim for, you’ll want to make sure that your page speed is less than 200 milliseconds.
This one might take a bit of explaining. Whenever you pull up a web page to browse, certain elements of it get stored on your hard drive. This uses temporary storage known as a cache, and it exists to make loading that website easier the next time you visit it.
Therefore, the first time someone visits your page, they have to go through the process of downloading HTML documents, any stylesheets you have, and any scripts and images on the page. Sure, it’s automatic, but it can take a few seconds, and you can’t waste those.
It’s important that caching is enabled on your website, but you also need to make sure that your home page is accessible for first-time visitors. It needs to still be fast-loading to get their attention.
Images may seem like small potatoes compared to heavy media hitters like video, but images that are too high-def and too big can easily clock up your loading time.
There are easy ways to make sure your images are optimized, and very few of them have anything to do with coding.
Make sure your images are the correct size. If they’re not, crop them to the size you want them. While you can accomplish this with code, your page still has to load the full image. Cropping it reduces the size of the file.
Additionally, you can reduce the color depth and remove any image comments.
As for saving, you want to go for JPG. If you don’t want to deal with the artifacts, PNG is a good option – but older browsers may have trouble with it.
Stay above the fold
This one’s a little bit of a trick.
As long as your above-the-fold content loads faster than anything beneath it, you can still create a good user experience.
We’re referring to the content that’s at the top of the page. This should include any calls to action and any navigation, as well as some interesting content to catch their eye.
While they’re busy taking that in, the rest of your page can load!
Plugins are fun, but too many of them can weigh down your site and create a poor user experience.
They can also cause your site to flat-out crash, and if you don’t download them from trusted developers, you can have a massive security issue on your hands.
If you have any plugins that are unnecessary, deactivate and delete them.
Avoid external scripts
Some websites have extended functionality, which can involve taking their code and using it somewhere on your website.
These can be counters or other plugins, but it’s important to make sure that these aren’t loading on all pages of your website. If they are, your website may be bloated and slowed down.
CSS is a lightweight way to code and make your website look the way you want. In some cases, it can even take the place of images.
This is great because it lets you cut down on the weight of your website even further. By using code instead of an image to get your point across, you’re streamlining the process and creating a better user experience all around.
Page speed may be more important than you previously believed. Google actually ranks sites depending on how fast they load. A slow site could be hurting more than you realize.
Luckily, it’s easy to take advantage of easy tips to help improve your website’s speed and create a great experience for any visitors you have.
If you have questions regarding web hosting, we’d love to hear from you!