It’s common for businesses to prioritise sleek design, nifty functions or extra content over fast load times when building a website. Having all these added bells and whistles can be an asset to your brand, helping you to stand out against competition and attract customers’ attention. But if they begin to encroach on your website’s speed and efficiency, there’s a point where they’ll stop making your customers happy and start slowing sales down. Not convinced? Amazon reports show that just a one-second improvement in page speeds yields seven per cent growth in conversion rates and a ten percent overall increase in sales – proof that speed is a big deal.
Here are the main areas of your business load speeds may be influencing:
Research shows that when a website runs efficiently, we perceive the brand to run with equal efficiency, leading to better trust and improved customer retention. Alternatively, slow load speeds can kill the browsing experience. After all, how frustrating is it when a site lags for what feels like a lifetime when you’re just trying to access basic information? A website could be beautifully designed and have awesome interactive features, but at the end of the day, if it is too slow, users will simply shut the tab and switch to a competing site. In these situations, the business is not only at risk of losing a sale, but also a repeat customer, which is a big opportunity cost. Remember, consumers, value their own time above all else, which is why a smooth user experience should always be first priority.
While many people expect loading times to influence user experience, few anticipate how much they can also affect search engine ranking algorithms. There are two factors influencing this. Firstly, Google searches have user engagement indexes that track how many potential customers are engaging with the content on a website. So if people keep dropping off a page shortly after opening it, Google will think something illegitimate is going on, placing the site lower in its rankings. Secondly, if the search engine is too slow to connect to the data on a particular web page in time, it will simply ignore the content, leaving the site out of search results, no matter how good its other SEO efforts are. And as you’re aware, search rankings have a large impact on web traffic, which is a crucial driver of sales.
Here are some simple tips to help improve your page loading speeds:
Compress your pages
Large pages are bulky and slow to download. The best way to speed pages up is to zip them, which reduces their bandwidth, improving download speeds by up to seventy percent (according to Yahoo).
Large images take too long to load, but small images are too low quality, which is why striking a perfect balance is key.
Enable browser caching
Caching temporarily stores data on visitors’ computers, keeping them from having to re-download it each time they visit your page.
Excess or unnecessary code can really slow download your speed. It’s important to regularly sift through your coding and make reductions where possible. You can also copy and paste CSS into tools like CSS Minimiser, which will optimise your stylesheet automatically.
The Merryn Bourne Creative team are experts at building websites that are both beautifully designed and quick to load. For more information about improving the functions of your site, contact us today.