Why website speed is vitalDevelopment
Page speed and website speed may seem to be simple topics, but many times these are complex issue. There is no single recipe to get faster speed, rather it is the combination of editor and technical knowledge.
Speed is vital for business. It affects the conversions, bounce rates, SEO ranking, etc. According to Google, visitors are 32% more likely to abandon the site, when the loading time goes from 1 second to 3 seconds*. If you know the conversion rate of your site or the impact the site has for your business, you can easily calculate how much business you lose due to a slow website. Speed is now a dominant success factor even for Google search and Ads.
But what is speed?
There are numerous ways to measure speed. Some prefer using Google´s Core Web Vitals and other established measurements. I believe, the following metrics are the most important:
When you start creating the campaign, you begin your process by searching for USPs and argumentation related to the product. You might check the old image bank, which is full of various images and a few videos. You create a draft of the campaign or receive a proposal from your advertising agency. This proposal is then circulated in the organization for feedback and comments. Eventually, when the campaign is ready to be published, your deadline has almost passed, and you haven't had time to localize the messages.
Core Web Vitals:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This means when for example the time it takes for a hero image to be downloaded
First Input Delay (FID): It is a measure of interactivity. The time that passes from that the user e.g. clicks on something on the page until the clicked button gives a response back.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): It gives measure website stability and provides a figure of unexpected layout shift.
Others useful measurements are:
First Contentful Paint: This means the time it takes for the the site to give a response (ping).
Time to interactive: The time it takes before the visitor can perform actions on the page.
How do I test my site speed?
You probably have tested your site speed various times geting different results. If you for example use Google PageSpeed Insights, you will get totally different results depending on if you have a 3G or a 5G network connection. In the city you might get pretty good results for your website, but when you make the test at the countryside, you get disappointing bad page speed results. If you use multiple tools such as Pingdom and GTMetrix you get a better understanding of your site performance and the factors that affect the speed. If you have not used speed test tools, you can first test the easiest tool - ThinkWithGoogle: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/feature/testmysite
What then kills your website speed? Typical mistakes might be caused by use of uncompressed images, slow insufficient servers, too many plug-ins that are connected to 3rd party services, old code and unnecessarily complicated website structures.
How do I optimize my site?
1. Start with checking all images, files, animations and video sizes.
Then optimize them for the web. You may originally have got them from your advertising agency that was planning to use the images in print production.
2. Use caching of the site.
3. Optimize the order of elements loading.
Prioritize the order in which elements are loaded. You can even delay downloading elements that are not needed immediately. Especially when you have 3rd party maps, advertising, social media widgets, web analytics, etc.
4. Use good hosting services.
Based on your business needs, you should select the right hosting options. Is on-premises good enough or do you need a certain kind of cloud services? Do you have global or local operations, are you operating in China, etc.? There are various ways to speed up your web by using the CDN services and a static page offloading that might also lower your operating costs
5. Reduce and simplify the number and structure of plugins.
6. Analyse your database sizes.
Especially if you are using DXP or CDP platforms, you might continuously accumulate user data . You should create rules for how long you want to keep this data.
How to ensure proper ongoing speed levels?
When you start getting first improvements to the speed, you also need to think how to ensure proper ongoing speed levels?
A simple solution is to set up automated 3rd party analysing tools to follow up the uptime and page speed times.
Even if your site looks visually good, your code base may be getting old. It is good to have a systematic approach to refresh and improve the code, check the health of the code and use automated code testing tools. When you have technically everything in place, you should make sure that the accumulated knowledge is shared across your own and your website developer organization.
With a systematic approach to website speed, you can bit by bit improve your SEO rankings, lower abandoning rates and accelerate new customer intake. It is not a one time project, but a systematic approach to the topic of speed.