Did you know, that if your site takes longer than 3 seconds to load, your website visitor has most likely already moved onto another website?
A study in 2012 found that 68% of UK respondents said that the number one reason they abandoned a website or shopping cart was due to “slow browsing pages or product images are too slow to load.”
The thing is, people like fast websites – it’s just a fact.
This means that you only have 3 seconds to present enough information to encourage a longer visit, but not so much information that your traffic isn’t willing to wait – neither will search engines. Google and other search spaces use incredibly secret (and accurate) algorithms to decide how amazing your website is. Speed is a major factor in this decision, but nobody really knows how major.
So where is the middle ground? Less content? More speed? But how?
Website designers each have their own methods, but there are a few failsafe actions that you can take to keep eyes on your page.
#1. Know your speed.
If you haven’t visited Pingdom, or a similar website, in a while, then the time to do so is now. These easy to use analytical websites can tell you exactly how your website ranks compared to other sites tested.
Pingdom will ‘ping’ your website from various locations, give your website a grade and tell you the percentage of websites that are slower than you. Take note that if your website ranks less than a B, you might be in trouble. Don’t worry though, we can help you get back on track!
#2. Optimise your images.
Large images take time to pass through the airwaves. As much as you like your high quality pics, it may be a good idea to optimise them for quicker download. This is pretty simple, and really amounts to re-sizing, re-saving and re-uploading your images. A simple, yet great tool for this process is pixlr.com. It’s free and there are tons of help options for those who need some guidance (don’t we all!)
#3. Get rich in cache.
No, not cache as in cash money. Cache is a way that computers can remember your website for further visits. This can help you pop back up quickly when a visitor returns a second time (return visitors make everyone happy!)
To make sure that your website is cacheing, follow these easy steps:
- Go to your file manager (wherever it may be on your website)
- Find your .htaccess file. Copy and paste the file into a blank document – just in case something doesn’t go to plan. This is a good practice whenever changing anything important in your website.
- Add the following code to your .htaccess file. Be careful not to disturb anything else in this file.
## EXPIRES CACHING ##
ExpiresByType image/jpg “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/gif “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/png “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType text/css “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType text/html “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/pdf “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/x-icon “access 1 year”
ExpiresDefault “access 1 month”
## EXPIRES CACHING ##
- Save the file and refresh your webpage.
#4. Minimise requests.
According to CrazyEgg, the three main components of a speedy site are:
- Streamline the number of elements on your page.
- Use CSS instead of images whenever possible.
- Combine multiple style sheets into one.
This might not sound much like English to you, if so – don’t worry. We can help! What this means (without jargon) is try to keep the number of times the server talks to your site visitor’s page as few as possible. You can do this easily by keeping your webpages simple and by avoiding ads whenever possible. If you have a bulky page, consider making it into two. If each page has one purpose, then you are well on your way to a speedy site!
#5. Live above the fold.
Make sure that all of your really important information is “above the fold” or on the top portion of your webpage. Don’t bulk up your site with complex images at the top or banner ads that use Flash. Better yet, don’t use flash at all. Since websites load from the top down, if your site visitors are occupied with the information at the top of the page, then they won’t be concerned with what is loading below.
Even small steps can make a difference. For example, AliExpress (a portion of online giant Alibaba) claimed in a presentation that by reducing load time by 36%, they were able to increase orders by 10.5% and new customer conversion rates by 27%. So really, the question is, what are you waiting for?
Kelly Kirkham is a staff writer at VKN Digital, UK who specialise in increasing conversions, sales and the bottom line