When building a website, speed is key.
Attention spans are at an all time low and if people need to wait for your website to load, they will probably just leave and find a faster one. Higher load times are particularly problematic for mobile devices as people on the go need things RIGHT NOW.
As a basic rule of thumb, any website that takes more than 2 seconds to load (6pmarketing.com is clocking in at 1.29 seconds) should be cause for investigation.
So, how fast is your site? Use this simple tool to find out.
If you aren’t happy with your loads times, here are 6 key websites areas that may need some TLC:
1. Images that aren’t optimized for the Web. This is a big one. Images should always be cropped and sized to fit your website - the cropping and/or sizing should NOT be done in the coding. Based on the complexity of the image, the smallest image type possible should always be used – this will generally be 8-bit PNGs or JPGs. Think of image optimization as a balance between image quality and image file size.
2. A slow or overwhelmed web host. Many web hosts are not optimized for complex websites including Content Management System sites. If your website is running particularly slow, it’s worth a call to your web hosting company to ask whether there’s anything they can do. Often times, you’ll find that you share a web server with many other websites and those websites may be slowing yours down. If this applies to you, it may be worth switching to a dedicated web server.
If you’re just starting out and choosing a web host, ask about speed and also read reviews online from different sources to avoid issues. Lastly, ensure that the host is working around the clock for you in terms of available support.
3. The presence of superfluous code. Bad code slows down sites. This includes old-fashioned coding practices that may lead to extra lines of code. This can be the result of an inexperienced coder, or it can happen if you copy and paste text from Microsoft Word straight into a WYSIWYG website editor. Always “clean” your text by copy and pasting it first into a notepad program to avoid bringing in any of Word’s inherent formatting/code to your site.
4. Too many plugins installed. Plugins may include photo galleries, widgets, social media feeds, rotating or animated graphics, contact forms etc. They’re the extras that can make websites really cool. If you have too many plugins, however, they may slow down your site. Consider turning one off at a time to see whether one in particular is affecting load times.
5. Flash or embedded video. Flash is a resource hog, plain and simple. Whenever something on your website needs a loading bar or countdown, it’s bad news in terms of bandwidth. The same goes for video/content you have embedded from other websites – in this case, your site is only as fast as their content/site at any given point in time.
6. A large spike in traffic. Maybe you sent out an incredible email newsletter? Maybe you’re running a huge promotion? Or, maybe you’re new product was featured on Dragon’s Den? Whatever the source, large spikes in traffic can overwhelm servers and slow your site down... even crashing it. Make sure your web host can handle your anticipated traffic levels and don’t assume that everything will be okay.
If you’re website is slow, all of your hard work and money spent may be for nothing. When people are looking for something online, they want it now, and waiting is no longer the norm. If your site is slow, I recommend going through the list above and, if you have no luck, we would love to take a peak and see if we can speed it up.
More info on loading time standards: http://blog.kissmetrics.com/loading-time/
Testing tool for companies available at: http://www.iwebtool.com/