How Fast Should Your Site Load and How to Speed It Up

Even the most patient people cannot stand waiting in lines – if something is taking longer than expected, we tend to get either bored or angry in a matter of minutes. Most businesses learn all about this in the queuing theory – the study of lines. And what kind of lines you may ask? All kinds of them as a matter of fact – supermarket checkout lines, tollbooth lines, lines at the post office, etc.

The University of Bridgeport recently published a study, in which the queuing theory was used to analyze web servers. Why? Because waiting for a site to load is not all that different from waiting in line for, let us say, a slice of pizza. If it takes too long to get a slice, we will walk right out the door and find some different place to eat. The same thing could be said about online browsing; if a site takes too long to load, it does not take long before we are outta there.

Expected Speed

Site speed improves user experience that is simply common sense. However, we should take a look at some stats to convey how important loading time is to users. A 2013 Radware study has shown that slow load times are having an increasing impact on all websites, especially eCommerce ones. Roughly, 7 out of 10 people abandon online shopping carts before the checkout, and the website speed is the top reason for abandonment.  The results have shown that a mere two-second delay in load time results in abandonment rates up to 87%.

Importance of Loading Time

Almost everybody is aware of the fact that Google includes page speed in their ranking algorithm, for both desktop and mobile sites. However, as John Ekman explains in this Unbounce article, improved page speed will help online business owners in two more positive ways. Since page speed is a ranking factor, good load time will bring more organic traffic to a site, in addition, improved speed results in better user experience, and it is bound to improve conversion rates. Moreover, keep in mind that Google may penalize mobile sites for loading too slowly.

How to Speed Up Your Site

  • Optimize Your Images – Image optimization is the most important thing to do if you want to decrease your download times. There are several different ways to do this, for example, you could simply reduce the image to 70% in Photoshop using the “Save For Web” option.
  • Load backdrop images using external CSS – You could present images as part of the background using CSS and as a result, your text will load instantly, and your visitors will be free to explore the page while your image downloads.
  • Remove redundant META tags – Always try to keep the content for each META tag under two hundred characters, anything more will increase the size of your page.
  • Minimize unnecessary JavaScript – Be sure to remove JavaScript and any other clients-side functional elements on your page, because in most cases, they slow the page down.

Run Speed Tests

If you are having problem with page speeds, or are just curious to see how some of your pages are doing in that area, there are plenty of online tools and apps out there, like WebPageTest, Pagespeed Insights and Yslow that can test the speed of your site. Luckily, solutions and improvements are coming in the near future, for example, this new protocol innovation from Giga aims to boost speed up to 30%. Site speed remains a big deal, website success depends on it – load time can make the difference between landing 100 new customers and losing 70% of them.