In today’s digital world, everything comes down to speed. It doesn’t matter if you have the most complex and good-looking site if it takes forever to load. There are various reasons why your web pages may load slowly, but no matter the cause, today I’m going to show you some useful tips and techniques on how to improve your website performance and speed and ensure a smooth user experience.
Why Is Page Speed Important
Research shows that the amount of time a user will wait before losing focus is roughly from 0.3 to 3 seconds. If your website takes longer than that to display important information, the user will lose focus and possibly close the browser window. Websites that are faster will have lower bounce rates, higher conversion rates, higher ranking in organic search, and, of course, they will have an overall better user experience. The bottom line is that slow websites will cost you money and will hurt your brand. On the other hand, making your web pages load faster will positively impact traffic, user retention, and sales.
What Affects Site Speed
There are a number of reasons why your site load time might be lagging. It could be anything, but the most common factors are:
Poor server/hosting plan
Large image sizes
Not using browser cache
Too many widgets and plugins
Hotlinking images and other resources from slow servers
Slow network connection (mobile devices)
That means there is a whole range of steps you can take to enhance page speed, which I’ll explain later in the post. But before you start troubleshooting to improve website performance, you need to test your page load time.
How to Measure Website Speed
Before making any changes, it’s important to measure first. Measuring specific metrics will let you compare your website performance before and after the changes, and will let you know if your changes are actually working. There are many metrics that you can measure as the website owner, but I would suggest focusing on Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, and Cumulative Layout Shift. These three metrics are defined as Core Web Vitals by Google.
Best Practices to Speed Up Your Website
As you’ve seen, there are a lot of factors that influence how long it takes to load each page on your website. But there are just as many ways you can improve the performance of your website. Here are some of them:
Reduce the Number of HTTP Requests
Switch to HTTP/2
Optimize Image Sizes
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Write Mobile-First Code
Reduce the Number of Plugins
Use Website Caching
Improving website performance can be challenging, especially with the vast differences in devices, connectivity, browsers, and operating systems, but it will have a significant positive impact on your business if your business relies on your website as one of the main channels for reaching your customers.
Also, keep in mind that this is a process that doesn’t have a clearly defined start and endpoint. You don’t have to implement all of the suggested changes today. Spend some time looking into the monitoring tool results, make changes on the website, and then compare the performance before and after the changes.