Why is your website Page Speed important?
Website page speeds have always been an important factor in making websites more attractive to your potential customers and indeed being discoverable in search engine result pages. In this post, we will look at some of the important factors for keeping your website light and the user and SEO benefits of keeping on top of page speed loading times.
The subject of keeping websites fast can be quite technical, however, in this article we will try and avoid the need for any deep technical insight. If you do require help with page speed, contact us here.
What is page speed and why is it important?
Website page speed is the time in which it takes your computer, tablet or a smart phone to request a web page and for it to load fully on your mobile, tablet or desktop device. The time it takes for your business' web pages to load for your user's device determines how quickly you can get your message over to your users and not leave them frustrated with long wait times, which in part, will help you convert more users into customers. Globally, mobile website browsing now equates to more than desktop and tablet browsing combined. At the time of writing, 53% of global website traffic was viewed on a mobile device, with 42% accessed via a desktop machine and 5% on a tablet. In emerging growth markets this figure is even higher. In Africa, for example, mobile traffic is a little over 61% and India, over 81%!
With more and more people connecting to your business over mobile devices where load speeds are potentially not as good as desktop broadband speeds, it has never been more important to ensure that your content and products are accessible as quickly as possible.
How can I optimise my website for page speed loading times?
Below we will delve into some of the most common issues with web page loading issues and how to go about rectifying them.
Optimise how your website code is sent to your users
All this warning means is that there are improvements which can be made in the order that the code used to make your site work and look pretty, can be broken up and loaded more efficiently. From a developer’s perspective, coding in a way to ensure these optimisations can be time-consuming, however, the payoff for page speed load times and the accompanying SEO and Conversation Rate Optimisation benefits, are worth the investment.A good rule of thumb is to only send the code needed to view your site initially, and then send the rest. That is to say, only send the code responsible for viewing your website above the fold, before loading the rest in order. The BBC Travel website, for example, could only load all the styling code for the area slightly above the Editor's Picks.
Optimise your images
One of the most common issues, and yet one of the easiest to rectify in website page speed performance is image weight. A rule of thumb is to crop the images you wish to use to the maximum correct size across devices. Images which are not cropped to the correct size or are unnecessarily too hi-res can cause significant bloat and make the entire page slower for your users.
Minify your website's code
Minifying your website's code simply means that instead of having your code stored in nicely formatted, human readable file (necessary for developers to understand what the code does), remove all the spaces, tabs and newlines (essentially all the whitespace) so the file is lighter and can be loaded quickly.
Take this original, developer friendly piece of code as an example;
Minifying this code looks something like this:
By removing all the whitespace in this very short code example, we have improved the load time of this snippet by 77%. Now imagine taking this approach and improvement across the 1000’s of lines of code which ultimately make your web pages work and we or onto some significant gains in page load speed.
Cache and compress your code and images
Thankfully, this is not as technically complicated as it sounds. All this means is that there are ways in which you can tell the computer where your website lives, to send all the code in a more efficient manner. Think of this as telling your websites home to zip up any files before it sends them to your user's device and store the zip file to be used in the future. That's it, simple, and thankfully can be done fairly easily.
How do I test and monitor my website page speed?
There are many online tools which can help you test your web pages and make sure they are as quick as possible for your users and search engines. The two most popular are Pingdom and Google Page Speed Tools.
There are many, many more techniques to help with page speed and provide user and SEO benefits. If you do require help with page speed, contact us here.