Website speed is something we’re all concerned with these days, and as web development experts we have to be at the forefront of making sure everything we design and build is engineered correctly to keep our clients’ websites running quickly whilst rendering correctly. A slow loading website can be the make or break in whether a user decides to stay or go elsewhere, so it is really important to get this right first time! According to Google, it takes only 400 milliseconds – the same amount of times it takes to blink – for users to become impatient waiting for a website to load, so being quick off the mark is paramount!
So what are the common culprits for speed issues online?
If you have a lot of imagery and it’s not optimised well, it will take up a lot of space on your server and also prove slower to load than the rest of the content, so users may see a page with text and no images/half loaded images, or nothing at all until the images have finished loading. None of these scenarios are ideal so proper image optimisation is key for quicker loading times.
Many factors influence optimal image settings including the format capabilities of the file type in question, pixel dimensions, quality and content of encoded data, so we’d always recommend removing unnecessary image resources where possible and using web fonts instead of encoding text in images.
If you have a large website with a lot of content spread across a lot of pages then it’s worth considering how you deliver it – do you use a CDN (more on this here) or do you upgrade other aspects of your website and hosting to cater for it? A CDN will often work better for websites with high numbers of mobile users and/or international websites with multiple subsections in different languages so worth investigating and investing in if you think your website has the need!
If you’re running a website that doesn’t cater for mobile phones and smart devices then you’ll likely see an impact on performance, based in part on the time it will take these devices to load everything into a format they can present to the user. Mobile friendly websites have been a core part of many business’ digital marketing plans for a long time and they’re certainly something we now class as essential for any site build!
Website elements that will hinder down website performance on mobile and smart devices if not properly configured are:
- Viewport not set
- Content wider than screen
- Unplayable content
- Faulty redirects
Web hosting/shared server services
If you’re using a hosting service that seems too good to be true on price then you’ll probably pay for it in other ways, like your website speed! Your website will more than likely be sitting on a shared server, bloated under the weight of thousands of other websites all competing for the same space to load, and as such will struggle to deliver your website in good time to users, especially if you have large files or media elements to load.
Ads, Codes & Widgets
You may like how your site looks if you’re running different widgets or plugins, and they may help your users out, but are they eating into your site speed? Likewise, you may be making money off the back of some sponsored ads, but are they killing performance? Tracking codes for affiliates are also a culprit, so look at all of these things, because either singly or collectively they could be causing site speed issues you’re not even aware of!