One of the most common frustrations we experience today is watching a website slowly load in. Images pop in late, the page’s structure suddenly reorganizes itself and we’re back at the top, or we may never see the page at all. With the speed of modern data networks, usually a web page loads instantly. However, if a website hasn’t been properly optimized for speed and short loading times, it can suddenly become a snail. That’s not something you want for your business’ website. We discuss some of the best web design practices for ensuring faster load times for your website.
Why Website Speed Matters
Website load speed simply matters because it has a direct impact on your conversion rates. If your website is slower, you are less likely to get sales, orders, new clients, etc. This is the case for both B2C (business to customer) and B2B (business to business) businesses. Studies have shown that for B2B websites, a website that loads in 1 second has 3x the conversion of one that loads in 5 seconds and 5x one that loads in 10 seconds. The difference is similar for e-commerce B2C businesses, where a 1-second website has 2.5x the conversion rate of those loading in 5 seconds.
What is a Good Website Loading Speed?
In the simplest terms, the faster a website loads, the better. However, a website will always take some time to load, even if a fraction of a second. It might be easier to determine when the average becomes frustrated and gives up. Studies’ have found that its best to remain within 2.5 seconds, and the longest ideal time for a webpage to load is 4 seconds. After that, the conversion rate drops to half of what it was at 1 second.
Determining Your Website’s Loading Time
To optimize your website’s loading time, you need to determine its speed. For a proper test, you need to consider different network speeds, device types, and that each page will have a different speed. Thankfully, Google has developed a free tool for the job: PageSpeed. Just by entering your business’ URL, PageSpeed will run a full a diagnostic on your website’s loading times. The test can also be run for a mobile device or computer, helping you determine if a certain version of your website has a speed issue.
Putting Your Website in High Gear
Once you determine your website could be faster, you will need to start optimizing. Here are some of the essential practices for speeding up your website’s load times:
Reducing Image Sizes
One of the main factors that affect a website’s load time is file sizes. A user’s device needs to download these files from a website to display them in their browser. Text is overall fast for a device to load. However, images, if not optimized, can be large and slow down your website considerably. Best practice is to keep the largest dimension of a website at 1200px or below. If you’ve used raw or stock photos, these tend to be 3 or 4 times bigger and just as hefty. File format is also important. JPEGs and PNGs can be relatively small in file size, but a WEBP is overall a more optimized format for website loading times.
Embedding Videos Rather than Hosting
Pictures can be large files; videos can be huge. That’s why a best practice for website speed is to upload a video to another service like YouTube or Vimeo. These allow you to embed a video on your site, making it part of the page’s display while keeping it hosted on these other services. Devices will retrieve the video from these faster sites while also keeping your site’s load size and time down.
Preventing Long Pages
An essential practice for website speed optimization is limiting the size of web pages. For example, if someone browses a store’s inventory, the page should not try to load all 250 products at once. That will slow the page down. Instead, make sure your website uses pagination or progressive loading for larger sections of your site. These smaller sections will take less load time and have less impact on a browser.
Look at Apps, Widgets, Plugins, etc.
Apps, widgets, and plugins often provide essential functionality to a business’ website. However, by adding that additional functionality, they can also increase a website’s load time. Monitor how these apps affect your site’s performance and weigh the importance of their functionality against their speed impact. Also, keep these add-ons updated with regular website maintenance. This will keep the tools optimized while also preventing any security vulnerabilities that could develop in older versions.
Some of Our Favourite Optimization Tools for Website Speed
Along with Google’s PageSpeed, our web team has two favourite tools for optimizing a website’s load time:
- Shortpixel: This convenient tool will convert and deliver images on a website into WEBP format.
Don’t Wait on Improving Your Website’s Load Times
Now you know some of the essential best practices for improving and optimizing a website’s load times. We recommend optimizing your site right away. That swift website speed will provide your users with an optimal experience on all their devices. In turn, that improves your business’ conversion rate. If you want help optimizing or maintaining your website’s speed, contact our web design team.