The Importance of Site Speed

3 mins read

Have you noticed a lag in your website traffic or conversion rates? Chances are, the cause is bad performance. If your visitors have to wait more than three seconds for your site to load, 40% of them won’t stick around. A quick loading page, on the other hand, creates a satisfying experience for users, who are then more likely to spend time on your site.

The importance of site speed is often overlooked in favor of fancy design elements, though it plays a key role in developing the quality of user experience that comes from your site. It also improves your search results ranking, which consequently leads to more traffic and higher rates of conversion. Just one extra second in loading time can decrease your site’s conversion rate by 7%.

With that in mind, read on to better understand the importance of site speed and why you should make it a common practice to incorporate it into your design work.

Build Up UX

Speed is possibly the simplest way to please your users. In a culture of fast and mobile internet access, it’s easy for users to find quick sites if yours doesn’t measure up to their expectations (which is typically two seconds or less). Speed is what makes the very first impression on a user, and it greatly determines the level of interaction that will be elicited from them. Having to wait too long all but guarantees a high bounce rate, but if users don’t even have to think about the speed, they are likely to interact with the site further. Starting their experience off on a positive note as soon as they enter your site is a great way to encourage engagement.

Improve Search Results Ranking

Google announced in 2010 that it deems site speed so important that it would begin to include it in its search results algorithm. Through its internal studies, Google found that the faster a site loads, the longer users interact with it. Speeding up your site will create a domino effect of improving your ranking, leading to more traffic and a better user experience, and more conversions and sharing.

How to Increase Your Speed

The first step in bettering your site’s speed is to test its current performance. This guide to Google Analytics can help you begin to test these metrics.

The site speed section of Analytics measures different aspects of your site’s performance, like page load time from different perspectives and dimensions (different browsers, locations, etc.). It can also measure the speed of any hit or user interaction that you’d like to track, like the loading of images or response to button clicks, and how quickly the site parses the document to make it available for user interaction.

Optimize

After you gauge how well your site is performing and pinpoint the elements that are slowing it down, you can make changes. Here are some ways to help speed it up.

Compress images and HTTP
Google has a default image compressor built into its Page Speed plugin, which decreases the time it takes for images to load. HTTP compression reduces the size of each individual HTTP request, as well as the number of requests a web page makes, which ultimately reduces the weight of the page.

Reduce number of plugins
A good rule of thumb is to eliminate everything on your site that isn’t necessary. Extra plugins and Flash files slow down your site, so get rid of that extra weight.

Cache your site
This is extremely helpful for your speed, because it allows the static content of the page to quickly become available while the site fully assembles. You can also use a content delivery network for a similar effect: the static content is dispersed across different servers for faster delivery.

Start Making Changes

It’s obvious that improving your speed can only benefit your site and your users. Try these tips out and continually test your site’s speed to ensure that it’s always performing optimally.

About the author

Rob Toledo is a Seattle stereotype. Lover of coffee, rainy days and the arts, he can often be found staring at the source code of any variety of websites looking for the latest tricks and tips. He can be reached on Twitter.
My Book Collection on UX
My Book Collection on UX

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One response to “The Importance of Site Speed”

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  • http://Www.theiiimpact.com Makoto kern

    Hi,

    Great article! Just wondering if you’ve looked into how authenticated (after a user logins into an account) page load speed / drop off rate differ vs unauthenticated pages ( which you talk about in this article)?

    Thanks,
    Makoto