We only get the chance to make a first impression once.
Site speed matters, because speed is the first experience people have with your website, your brand, your company. Site speed is a visitor's first impression, so let’s make sure it’s a good one.
Below we will cover the following: What is site speed? Who cares about site speed? What can you do to improve it? And how we at EvenVision tackle Site Speed.
What is site speed?
Without getting too technical, site speed is the average loading time of a website pooled from numerous pages on the site. Site speed dictates how quickly people are able to see and interact with your content. It is affected by how fast the servers are, whether they are being heavily taxes, in addition to how large the files required for construction of your page are.
What can cause a site to load slowly?
Lack of Compression
Image compression = aim to compress large images down to size, 72 DPI for screens vs 300 DPI for print, compress down to Kilobytes not Megabytes.
Excessive Redirects = Decrease the amount of redirects which increases HTTP request-response cycles
No Browser Caching = activate caching so that returning visitors receive speed increases from not having to load common content over.
Extensive Server Response Time = make sure you're utilizing appropriate servers for the expected traffic and content on your site.
Lack of, or poor Content distribution network = consider utilizing CDN's which store copies of a site to distribute the load and clean it up.
Lack of Mobile Optimization = Basic example: images on mobile devices should load based upon the screen size, not the files size, otherwise slow 3g & 4g connections will cause poor mobile optimized sites to grind to a halt for loading.
For more detailed information on these, we recommend reading from MOZ and their article on Page Speed.
Here are a few resources to test your site speed for free:
Who cares about site speed?
The big question is who cares? Is a fast loading site better than a slower loading site?
The answer is YES!
Recall from the intro, the first impression that anyone has on your website is the speed with which it loads. If it takes half a minute to access information on a website, people will leave and go to the site where it takes half a second.
People, in general, will relate the speed of a website to efficiency, confidence and ultimately trust. - Shopify
A survey by Akamai and Gomez.com noted that almost half of web users expect a site to load in under 2 seconds, and will typically abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Furthermore, 79% of people shopping online noted that poor website performance would cause them to not return and make another purchase, and then 44% of these shoppers would tell friends.
Those are rather striking statistics. The bottom line, people expect sites to be quick and to get them where they need to go without delay. If it works properly they won't complain, but if it's slow, by even a second they start taking note and forming opinions that can damage your bottom-line.
Not convinced? Here are some more delicious stats:
A 1 second delay decreases page views by 11%, conversions by 7% and customer satisfaction by 16% - Aberdeen Group
47% of visitors expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less. 88% of people who experience excessive load times and dissatisfying experiences from page loading are less likely to return, and more than 1/3 of these people will tell their friends - Econsultancy Research
18% of mobile users will leave the site if it takes longer than 5 seconds to load, and after 10 seconds 30% will abandon the website - KISSmetrics
A 2-second delay will increase abandoned shopping carts by 20% - Radware
The point is: Visitors care about their experience, and while they may not complain to your face directly about poor site speed, they are unlikely to return if it's slow. Which is the same a loosing them. Take every opportunity possible to increase the user experience on your website.
Google announced back in 2010 that site speed was going to start factoring into search ranking. While it's a minor component of SEO in comparison to Relevance & Authority, Site Speed is an increasingly important metric with the mobile era as is evidenced by the increased weight site speed acquired in 2016 - TheSEMPost
Update January 2018: Google is now considering the load times of individual pages with regards to SEO ranked, based on it's Mobile First Initiative. This update will go into effect in July 2018. It's important to note that Google specifically states the following: "The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content." - Engadget
Not moved by Google? How about Facebook? On August 2nd, 2017 they announced that they are going to begin prioritizing fast loading websites over those that load slowly. With over 2 billion users, and 1.74 billion accessing Facebook via mobile devices website speed is crucial to presenting a quality result. - Facebook Newsroom
Moz did find, however, that the back-end or server speeds, caused a greater effect on your SEO. That means that if your website is run off sub-standard servers these will actually have a greater impact on your search engine ranking than the front end site/page speed of your website. - MOZ
So how does site speed really affect your SEO for Search Engines? Primarily site speed can negatively affect a search engine from indexing content on your site. If a site has slow performance, the site will be indexed less frequently, causing a loss of search ranking. What isn't indexed on a slow site, will indeed be indexed on a competitor's fast site. - WebSiteOptimization.com
Bottom Line: Site speed is an increasingly important metric for search engines, and the likely hood that you are missing out on SEO ranking boosts from a slow website is highly likely.
What can I do to improve site speed?
There are typically things that the average joe can do to make improvements to a website's speed without the need of a developer. We always recommend looking at these options prior to bringing in paid help.
Merge excessive pages (clean up the Information Architecture) - Does every member of your staff have their own page? If possible, condense them down to one page, allowing a quick overview so that the visitor isn't having to load up multiple pages.
Optimize Images - Are you using high-res images that can be decreased down in file size? Often times simply opening the images in an editor and exporting a lower quality image, or even just uploading the right sized image can make dramatic improvements to site speed. We also recommend making use of proper image files formats, JPEG's and PNGs are the gold standards.
Additional items that can be tackled if you're more "tech" savvy:
Minimize and reduce "plugins" or unnecessary systems
Enable systematic compression for image displays
Utilize GZIP compression
Enable browser caching
Ditch old file formats and bloat from Flash
Utilize code in place for images where possible
If you have any question on how to execute these on your website, please contact us.
How we at EvenVision tackle site speed?
Now that we've talked in brief about site speed and some items that you can tackle. Here's how we at EvenVision tackle site speed.
Make use of Top-Notch Robust Servers & Content Delivery Networks
Utilize performance driven Content Management Systems
Incorporate tools to automate File Compression and Image Optimization
Maximum value-added modules (plugins)
Utilize code-based graphics & vector images, vs raster images.
It's important to note that for us Site Speed is not something we incorporate into a website as an afterthought. We believe it is an important component to the User Experience of our client's websites, and thus imperative that we include it from the very beginning and weave it throughout the entirety of the project.
We have a continued commitment to providing a quality first impression to users of our client's websites. From a sampling of over 60 websites that EvenVision has been involved in crafting we have an average site load time of 1.29s. This places our websites conservatively within the top 25 percentile - WebDesignerDepot. Furthermore, by sampling a few eCommerce sites, which are significantly more complex, our average site load time is still within the top 25 percentile averaging out at 1.58s.
As a recent example, we lent a hand to a San Francisco-based non-profit and one major component of the work we did for them was to tackle their slow site speed. The original developers did not emphasize the importance of this, so the website's load speed was 7.94 seconds. In stark comparison, when we made some strategic changes to their underlying servers, distribution networks, and systems performance we were able to decrease the load time to 1.01 seconds.
The difference could be compared to the speed of a sailboat, vs the speed of a spaceship. One simply blows the other out of the water.
Site speed is Important!
In summation: not only do faster website's rank higher on search engines (owing to better SEO), but they provide better experiences for visitors and help them convert into clients. If you're site loads slowly you're missing out.