This is a guest post by Nathan White.
Every second matters.
Most internet users nowadays have zero patience for sites with slow-loading pages. In fact, even just a second of delay in page response can reduce conversions by as much as 7%.
All too often, people tend to overlook page loading times in favor of better website aesthetics or blog design. After all, it is important to make things look good.
But before stuffing your website with loads of images and animated graphics, it’s imperative to optimize for speed first. You don’t want to lose customers by making them wait, do you?
A fast-loading website can increase your revenue and brand value. It’s just too important to ignore.
Here, we will outline the steps that can help improve site speed and give your customers a positive experience.
Let’s dive right in.
1. How bad is the problem? Test your site speed.
What’s considered fast? What’s considered slow? What are causing the bottlenecks in your sales funnels?
Speed optimization starts with understanding your website’s current status. You might think that your pages are loading fast enough but your metrics might be saying a different thing.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of speed testing tools that can help you with your analysis. There are even tools that provide actionable insights that can help you with optimization.
GTMetrix is one such tool.
In addition to giving you a performance report, GTmetrix also provides clear recommendations on how you can improve your website’s overall speed and performance.
You can use the data you gathered to measure your performance against the industry standard load times and even the load times of your competitors.
As a business owner, you should maximize tools like this to improve your overall performance.
Make it a habit to check your stats consistently, especially during times when you change something in your site. Always be on the lookout for elements in your website that you can improve.
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2. Time for clean up! Get rid of unnecessary plugins.
Behind every great blog are essential plugins. They are powerful tools that can make your site more functional and user-friendly.
However, having too many plugins installed or using plugins that are not optimized can affect your site’s speed. Out-of-date plugins may even cause security breaches on your site.
While there are no hard and fast rules about the limit of plugins you can install, it’s a good habit to deactivate and uninstall plugins that don’t contribute anything relevant.
At the very least, make sure you have something to increase the security of your website and something to improve user engagement.
How do you know which plugins are slowing down your site?
Test your page load times with all the plugins activated, then after getting a good baseline, deactivate the likeliest culprits then test your speed again.
Take note of the speed results so you’ll know which ones to deactivate. Don’t forget to backup your website before you declutter.
3. Choose a reliable hosting company.
You can’t go wrong with working with a reliable web hosting company.
If the company you hosted your website provides crappy services, chances are, you’ll experience more down times than usual, and your pages will load slow. Of course, that can easily translate to lose in sales, poor user experience, and a damaged brand reputation.
In some cases, it takes a mediocre hosting company about 1 second to load your pages, while a higher-performing one only takes about 400 milliseconds.
And so the question becomes, how do you determine which hosting provider is ideal for your business?
While there are several ways you can go about checking this, a tried and tested method is to use review sites. The website below, for example, shows comprehensive Siteground hosting reviews.
With comprehensive hosting reviews, you’d be able to chime in on what other users are saying about a hosting provider.
With that much insight, of course, you’d be able to select the best provider to host your website.
4. Make ‘em smaller: Compress large images.
It is important to make your website visually pleasing. Attractive images that communicate trust and trigger positive emotions can help build a solid first impression of your brand.
Some websites include images that convey a unique company culture, while others add sales promotion graphics to lure in more sites. Good images can give your website appeal that you can’t get from blocks of written text.
However, images take up a lot of space. It’s easy to see how five, ten or twenty photos on a page can slow it down.
Fortunately, it’s easy to decrease the file size of your images to improve the performance of your web page. Just compress them using an online tool such as imagify.io before uploading to your site.
5. Spot and Resolve 404 errors.
The internet is far from being perfect, this, 404 pages exist.
In a nutshell, it means that the page the user is looking for couldn’t be found by the server. Too many error pages on your site can cause you to lose valuable traffic.
While 404 errors don’t hurt your SEO, they can slow down your site because they take up space that could be used for more useful content.
If you moved the content, you can create a 301 redirect to lead the user to another part of your site. You can also remove the pages with the error permanently.
If you are using a WordPress site, you can use a plugin like Redirection to reduce errors.
Quick tip: 404 error page does not have to be a huge cause of frustration. Use good design to turn it into an opportunity to increase brand awareness or maybe even make your audience smile.
6. Improve your mobile user experience.
Ever heard of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)?
It’s a Google-backed project that makes it easier for publishers to create mobile-friendly content. Website pages are essentially stripped down to improve usability from a mobile viewing device.
AMP articles don’t have a complicated formatting. Because they are lightweight and simplified, they load much, much faster.
Considering that mobile traffic will only continue to grow over time, taking advantage of AMP might help improve the interaction of your customers with your brand.
Manually creating an AMP version of all your pages can be a real challenge. Fortunately, you can easily implement AMP on a WordPress site with a plugin. It automates the process.
Creating a good website is not just about physical design but also about functionality.
If your website is speed optimized, your users are able to consume your content more efficiently.
You are not wasting their time by making them wait.
You are not causing damage to your brand reputation by giving users a negative experience in your site.
You are not losing revenue with every frustrated user who walks away.
Remember – it’s all about their experience. It’s your job to make it easier for them to navigate through your site.
Bottom line is that a faster website will perform much better. It is one of the keys to your online success.