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Three seconds isn’t a long time. In fact, there’s a lot of places where a three-second wait would be amazing. But if your website lags by even three seconds, you could be in trouble.
There’s a long list of studies showing that if your web page load time goes over three seconds, people aren’t going to hang around. Abandonment rates soar. Conversions plummet. And it’s just three seconds.
Loading time is the difference between a successful website and fighting to stay alive.
While there’s a lot of things to consider when building and maintaining your website, latency is perhaps one of the most important. Latency refers to the minimum amount of time it takes for data to travel from one point to the next.
How can you shave seconds off your website loading time and increase your website efficiency?
Step 1: Increase Website Efficiency: Run a Lighter Website
Is your clunky framework slowing you down? It’s possible. Many developers still use huge libraries and overweight frameworks for basic effects, not because they want slow websites but because these frameworks make it easy to get a website up and running quickly.
If you’re not running a massively complex website but you’re using an infrastructure that supports one, then consider making a switch to a framework with better performance. One helpful tip is to take a mobile-first approach to your desktop site.
Mobile sites are lighter generally, but they also require you to pare down the site to only the most necessary features.
You can assess your current site’s mobile-readiness with Google’s Mobile Website Auditor.
Looking for ideas for lighter frameworks? Try out Spectre, Mustard UI, Bulma, or TentCSS for a framework that supports a responsive website without weighing you down.
Step 2: Re-Think Your Image Strategy
There’s no doubt that reassessing your framework is a big undertaking, even if it does deliver the greatest leaps in performance and website efficiency.
But if you need to skip the overhaul and are already ready for a refresh, a second helpful step is to reassess the way you use images on your site.
We now use more and larger images than at any other point in web design history. The average picture size jumped to over 3Mb in size, and large images now take up over half the size of a page.
Oversized images will slow you down every time, especially if they’re unoptimized. Not only are you weighing down your page, but you’re slowing down your site. The bounce rate caused by these images will let Google know that all is not well, and you could see your SEO impacted as well.
If you’re looking for an ultra-fast site, consider using more whitespace on your site and reducing the number of images altogether.
The mobile-first strategy mentioned above can help you prioritize those images so that you’re only using the ones that mean the most to your visitors. Basically, fewer pictures create fewer problems.
But you’ll also need to optimize the images you do use. Reducing the physical size is a great idea, especially if you previously stuck in a bunch of HD stock images.
You don’t need to spend hours on Photoshop to accomplish this. Squoosh (a Google-backed browser app) will resize images within the app and reduce the labor involved by a huge amount.
Making sure any image you use is also in JPG, GIF, or PNG will also shave a few milliseconds off your time.
Looking for plugins to help you optimize your image strategy? Try out: Smush, Imsanity, or Ewww Image Optimizer.
Step 3: Lighten the Load with a Content Delivery Network
Where are your visitors coming from? If you’re targeting global traffic, then there’s a good chance that most of your visitors aren’t seeing the best of your site, no matter how well optimized it is. A content delivery network (CDN) can help.
A CDN is a group of servers located at strategic geographic points to speed up delivery of your content. CDNs are what run sites like Facebook, Amazon, and Netflix.
They help you speed up your website by optimizing the power of caching and taking it one step further. Caching refers to the temporary storage of pages to reduce bandwidth and increase performance: cached versions load faster by saving the server time.
Caching is already a strong recommendation for those wanting to speed up their sites. The CDN steps in by using the dispersed group of servers to deliver the visitor the cached page from a server closest to them.
CDNs also have the benefit of reducing bandwidth consumption costs, which can save you serious cash. They can also help protect your site from DDoS attacks, which were once a declining trend but increased by 967% percent in Q1 of 2019.
Remember, Page Speed is Everything (for SEO)
What’s an extra second or three? Unfortunately, those extra three seconds it takes for your website to load mean a lot to everyone. They cause your visitors to abandon your site, and in turn, they impact your page rankings.
As of July 2018, Google uses mobile page speed as a factor for ranking mobile search results. In other words, you can run perfect technical SEO but if your site is mobile-responsive, you might still find yourself on Page 2.
Lightening your page’s load can come in many forms. If you’re not running your own site, ask your developer about the potential room for improvement.
And don’t forget to continually monitor your mobile page speed using the Google Mobile Website Auditor linked to above.
Do you have any steps to add that will increase website efficiency? Feel free to add them in the comments below! 🙂