Feeling the Need for Speed


Website Speed (or the lack thereof) Kills

That headline may sound just a tad hyperbolic, but in the world of digital marketing it’s actually completely true. According to studies by Akamai, Microsoft’s CDN subsidiary, nearly half of users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less and they start abandoning ship as it reaches 3+ seconds with startling regularity.

It actually gets more dire for e-commerce sites with over 75% of survey respondents indicated that if a site is slow they are far less likely to buy anything, or to return for another purchase. Additionally, nearly half of those surveyed indicated that they would tell a friend if they had a poor experience with an e-commerce store.

Conversions, whether they are requests for quote/contact or direct sales, suffer immensely due to performance issues; both now and in the future. Word of mouth even becomes a factor!

“My Site is Slow. What can I do?”

There are numerous variables that can impact the speed of a website. Sub-par or otherwise mis-configured hosting, needlessly complicated page code, lack of proper image scaling, code and image compression, the list really does go on and on.

  1. GZIP Compression: This one is a quick win. For instance, the Acella Homepage realizes a 78% code size reduction simply by enabling GZIP on the web server that hosts the page. That means the page is delivered to your browser more quickly, displays more quickly, and saves bandwidth for us and for you.
  2. Javascript and Stylesheets: Externally linked scripts and stylesheets save time and bandwidth, since your browser only needs to load it once, with every subsequent page you view using cached versions of the js and css files. This can make a large difference in load times, especially page-to-page within your site.
  3. Image Optimization: Image files can be saved in many differing levels of fidelity. It is often possible to optimize images for size, without impacting the image quality by any perceptible amount. In one test I ran in preparation for writing this article, I took an image that was 207KB and compressed it to 75% image quality, which made no visible difference in visual fidelity, saving 73KB, around 35% reduction in file size.
  4. Properly Sized Images: If your page displays an image at 400 x 400 pixels, it’s critically important that the page isn’t loading a 1,500 x 1,500 image and scaling it down to 400 x 400, or you’re impacting performance every time that page loads. This impacts performance in several ways.
  5. Caching: If your site utilizes a Content Management System (CMS), every page load is a dynamic event. What that means is that every time a visitor accesses a page on your site it makes numerous calls to the database and the file system, proceeding to generate the page “new” every time. By enabling caching, you can significantly reduce the time required to serve a webpage to your visitor.
  6. Reduce Redirects: Redirects are powerful, useful tools, but they need to be used carefully, or they start to become what we in the industry term “spaghetti code”, causing the server to do far more processing than it should need to.
  7. CDN: Content Delivery Networks can be implemented to load portions of your website from servers which are more geographically close to your visitors. This means your page loads faster for every visitor, not just the ones physically close to wherever your web server is located.

Putting it All Together

The bottom line is that site speed is critically important and there are numerous ways to optimize your site, but it can definitely be a lot to keep track of. No matter who you go to for web design and hosting, be sure to ask questions about the items listed above. Your website should be your best sales person, whether they’re selling products, services, or simply your brand.

Moving Forward

Here at Acella, we love to help people with their website needs. We don’t do anything “halfway” and that’s why every site we develop and host includes all of the technologies and services we discussed in this article, by default. You deserve a great site that loads quickly and shares  your brand and your values with each visitor. We would love to help make that a reality. Why not start with a free, no commitment Website Assessment? Or maybe you’re just ready to get a conversation started immediately.

We look forward to helping you with your next web project!

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