If you have ever waited for a website to load, just seconds can seem like a long time. Even though we are talking about small amounts of time compared to normal life, online competition is fierce. This time can be the difference between you making money or your competitor reaping the benefits.
Every second you are making your customers wait for your site to load, your bounce rate increases. In fact, according to Google themselves, the bounce rate increases massively for every delayed second:
- 1-3 seconds delay causes the bounce rate to increase by 32%
- 1-5 seconds delay causes an increase of up to 90%
- And for 10 seconds or longer, your bounce rate probability increases by a massive 123%
Suffice to say, it is essential to have a fast loading website.
If your website is loading slowly, there are some easy fixes that you can implement to improve customer satisfaction and hopefully increase conversion.
Some fixes use methods use tools you can find for free online such as image compression tools, and others include something as simple as making sure you have the correct web host.
How to improve site speed: 5 simple steps
Your host should be the very first thing you consider when looking at improving speed. Why is this? Seeing as your website is served to your customers via your host, if you have a slow host, no matter what you do, your speed will always be constrained.
However, there are a few steps you can check to make sure that your host is performance-based:
This aspect is often overlooked, but by making sure that you have chosen a host in the country that you are selling to, you will be able to boost the speed enough to be significant.
For example, if your customers reside in the UK, you should consider a UK based web hosting company, but if you want to start a blog in Australia, you should find Australian based hosting.
SSD Vs. HDD
Solid State Drive or Hard Disk Drive. If your current host uses HDDs to store your data, your website will load slower. This is just a fact as a result of SSD‘s being able to read data far quicker than an HDD.
You should check to see what your host or potential host uses to store your site. A cheaper host will often use HDD’s because they are less expensive per GB, but this is not always the case.
Many hosting companies nowadays are transitioning towards solid-state drives, but you should still be vigilant about what they are using.
Shared Vs. Private
A shared host means that your website will be stored and served from a shared server. This is often cheaper than private hosting, but it results in a slower loading experience.
This is because you are sharing the bandwidth with other websites, and if your server includes another site that is a bit of a resource hog, your site will load slower, and it is not much you can do about it.
Images are the usual suspects when it comes to slow loading times. Luckily, it is also the easiest to remedy and will give you the biggest bang for your buck.
It is good practice to make sure that you compress your images before uploading them to your website so that you don’t have to reduce them all later on down the line. There are many ways to accomplish this, depending on how you have built your website.
There are many online tools that you can use, often for free, that will compress the images you upload and then download the smaller file. There are some pros and cons to this method, such as:
- They are usually free to use
- Very simple
- Depends on the speed of your interest as to how fast you can upload the original images
- You can end up with a mess of duplicate images, half uncompressed and another half compressed.
With that said, some of the better online compression tools you can use include:
- Tiny png
The free versions will sometimes limit how many files you can upload at one time, but for smaller websites, this shouldn’t be an issue.
Depending on how your site was built, you can often find extensions to help you reduce the file sizes of your images. If you use WordPress, then you will find an array of great plugins.
The better ones even allow you to bulk compress existing images (keeping the originals just in case), and sometimes even have options that will enable you to serve special file formats like WebP to your visitors, drastically reducing loading times.
They will also help you to transform specific file formats to others. A PNG is often larger than a JPEG. The former produces a better quality image, but also a larger file size.
Photo editing software
Perhaps the most well-known being PhotoShop, photo editing software, can help you reduce the dimensions of your image, reducing the size. They should also allow you to choose the quality upon export, which is ideal as this will turn an MB image into a KB image.
If PhotoShop is too complicated or expensive, there are plenty of alternatives out there to choose from. There are even online editing tools like Canva, which help you create images and graphics and then allow you to choose the quality and size of the resulting images.
Use native editors
The advent of front end website builders such as Elementor and Divi etc has brought an unprecedented level of customization to the masses, but also an increase in page size.
This is due to the way they work, creating a lot more bloated code, which in turn, increases the size of a page and, therefore, its loading speed.
They are useful tools but should be used sparingly. By opting to use the native editor, you will find that the page size is far smaller and loads in a much snappier fashion.
Implement browser caching
Browser caching involves storing your site’s data locally on someone’s browser so that it is served to them from their computer or phone rather than your server. This reduces latency and improves customer experience massively.
Not all your website data will be stored on a visitor’s browser, but the main static elements, such as logos, menus, and CSS files. You should understand, though, that your site’s initial loading will be slow as it needs this first instance to cache these data. Caching is especially crucial if you hope to get repeat visits, such as to an eCommerce site.
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
If your website is serving many countries, you may want to consider a CDN. In essence, this is a network of hosts worldwide that stores wither your entire website or just the more substantial aspects of it like images, then serves it in whatever location your customer is visiting your site.