By Danny Wong

In an increasingly on-demand world, audiences everywhere expect information to be delivered fast and efficiently. Their encounter with your website should be no different.

Our team has audited hundreds of websites in recent years and noticed an overwhelming majority of them have one common problem: painfully slow page load times which are crippling their businesses.

What is page load time?

Page load time is a measurement which quantifies the amount of time it takes for the contents of a page to display to users. The clock starts as soon as a visitor enters the page and ends when all items on the page are fully loaded on their browser.

However, some websites have faster page load times while others have slower ones.

To test your website’s current performance, use tools such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights or Pingdom Website Speed Test. Upon completion of the tests, record the calculated speed and optimization scores along with any recommendations provided to reference later.

The downsides of slow web pages

Within seconds, the modern consumer can research information on any topic that interests them. As a website manager, the hope is that their search leads them to your website where they’ll also stick around. It’s easy to assume that their only expectation, in this instance, would be accurate and thorough answers to all of their questions. Indeed, that helps. But what’s also very important is how quickly they can access the information you’ve provided.

A 2017 survey from Akamai analyzed 10 billion user visits across the websites on its content delivery network and confirmed that the average consumer has a low tolerance for long wait times. Three data points from the study include:

  1. “A two-second delay in web page load time increase bounce rates by 103%.”
  2. “53% of mobile site visitors will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.”
  3. “A 100-millisecond delay in website load time can hurt conversion rates by 7%.”

Furthermore, research conducted by Aberdeen Group and Gomez.com in 2008 provided similar findings. For each additional second of delay in page load time, websites experience a 11% decrease in page views and a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.

It’s clear then that slow web pages create frustration among visitors, which causes them to prematurely abandon your website. Often, those disgruntled users turn to a competitor’s website and become reluctant to return. Long-term this leads to a decline in web traffic and sales.

Slow page load times hurt your SEO too. According to Google, desktop and mobile page speed are official factors that impact website rankings in its search results. Fortunately, there are creative and technical solutions that can help your web pages load faster so you can recover those lost visits and conversions.

How to improve page performance

To produce web pages that load within a few seconds, digital marketing software provider Moz recommends website owners do eight things:

  1. Use Gzip for CSS, HTML and JavaScript file compression.
  2. Optimize and minify your CSS, JavaScript and HTML code.
  3. Update page redirects to link to their final destination URL.
  4. Avoid or minimize the use of render-blocking JavaScript.
  5. Use browser caching so returning visitors can load your pages faster.
  6. Invest in better servers to improve response time.
  7. Employ a content distribution network (CDN).
  8. Compress and optimize images.

With these website design and development best practices you can minimize page load times and create a fast and seamless experience for your customers.

Of course, these aren’t the only opportunities for improvement. Add-ons, apps, and features you include on your website may also contribute to slower page load times. Check to make sure the ad delivery services or WordPress plugins you use are not the source of page load delays. Sometimes software that comes with a number of neat tools can be taxing on your servers.

Before you finalize your next website update, make sure all the elements of each of your web pages are fast-loading and well-optimized. To audit your web pages, use a tool like Lighthouse.

Closing thoughts

After you’ve completed some of the earlier optimization recommendations (and hopefully you’ll have identified some improvement opportunities on your own), analyze your website’s average load time once again using Google’s PageSpeed Insights or Pingdom Website Speed Test.

Ideally, you’ll see an improvement in your website’s performance and speed on both desktop and mobile. Website owners should aim to achieve a website load time score at or above 80 out of 100.

Now, if you’re running into issues executing some of the above recommendations, shoot us an email at hello@maxburst.com. Our web design and development agency is highly experienced at building better, faster and more user-friendly websites.