Never underestimate the importance of page loading speeds. Internet users do not want to hang around; we live in a world where we can make purchases with a few touches of a smartphone screen within seconds. So people are not going to wait around for your page to eventually load. 47% of visitors expect a website page to load in less than 2 seconds and anything more than that will start to see high levels of abandon rates. So now more than ever before, page loading time is of the essence.
If you are losing visitors before they even see your content then that will be having a major impact on the number of people who will actually do business with you. So having a fast loading website for your business should be a huge priority.
There are a number of influencing factors in terms of page speed and we will look at some of them and how you can hopefully make some changes to help to speed your website up. The first thing that you need to do is actually measure the speed of your pages by using a tool such as this. This will identify whether you actually need to make any wholesale changes or minor improvements.
- Have the right web hosting service
Different types of hosting services provide completely different levels of performance. If you have opted for a free hosting service then the chances are that your website isn’t running super fast, as you are not paying anything to get high levels of performance – basically, you get what you pay for! If you have a shared hosting plan, you may be finding that your pages sometimes slow down due to the fact that you are sharing a server with loads of other websites and their traffic. Because hosting plans are advertised as unlimited often you’ll get many clinets draining resources by hosting larger and more demanding sites. Having said that, most shared hosts should be able to provide a high level of performance, so if yours doesn’t seem to be doing too well, it could be time to switch to a new hosting provider.
- Use a caching plugin
For WordPress users, a caching plugin such as WP Super Cache will be a welcome addition. In a very simplified explanation a cache is somewhere that data is temporarily stored. By getting a caching plugin for your website, the pages will load faster as it uses previous data to load the page.
- Image Optimisation
A big problem for some websites is that people have been loading large image files that are not optimised for website purposes. Sometime you need a huge image with high resolution for printing purposes but for web images, you should find a balance between image quality and file size for better loading times. In terms of file types, JPEGs are the most commonly used image files used online. You can save these images in different quality levels, which result in different file sizes. If you have Photoshop then you have the option to ‘Save for Web’ which will allow you to save the image at the right quality to bring the file size down. Other ways of reducing image sizes include using compression apps such as TinyPNG or ImageOptim.
- Minimise the number of plugins
Plugins are great but the more you have, the slower your website will be. Make sure that you deactivate and delete any that you are not using and try to avoid plugins that are slowing your site down. You should be able to tell the difference when your website slows down after you have activated a new plugin.