Put Your Website On A Diet For Better Web Speed And Conversion Rates

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Keeping your company’s website in top shape to attract visitors and covert them to buyers or subscribers is a complex issue, and more so today than ever before. Sure, you’ve got lots of analytics and statistics available to work with, but those don’t necessarily tell you what you need to know in order to succeed. Let’s take a wide-angle look at the issues are most crucial.

Your company’s website exists to attract people to come, learn more about your business and its services or products, and then to take some action that benefits you, like purchasing or subscribing to a mailing list or newsletter; taking those actions constitutes conversion.

Akamai Technologies commissioned a group of studies between 2003 and 2009, to learn about the habits of consumers on e-commerce websites. The findings of these studies offer some insight every business can understand and use to their advantage. For example 47% of online shoppers expect a site’s pages to load in 2 seconds or less, and 40% of shoppers will completely give up on shopping a site if the pages don’t load within 3 seconds. In fact, in the 2003 segment of the study, 40% of shoppers said that fast page loading is important in their loyalty to an e-commerce site, while 52% gave the same response in 2006. The demand for fast response is growing rapidly.

Add to this the fact that Google changed its search result algorithm for mobile websites in April 2016 so that sites that do not meet Google’s criteria for mobile compatibility are now penalized in their search result rankings. One of their criteria is the speed of page load on mobile devices, so websites hoping to maintain high search result rankings need to have responsive web content, optimized for display and navigation on mobile devices. On sites that are mobile-friendly (to Google’s standards), users visit 11% more pages and the conversion rate among those mobile visitors grows by a staggering 51%.

There’s no longer any doubt that website speed and conversion rates are directly linked and failing to address slow page load issues will cost your business money. Often, the first solutions that come to mind to remedy slow web speed are adding bandwidth or changing to a hosting service with a more powerful and efficient infrastructure. Before you resort to those measures, though, you should look for inefficiencies in your website’s design, because often, a website’s speed problems stem from a collection of design and code problems that can be remedied without purchasing more bandwidth or migrating to a new host.

Tone Up Your Plugins

WordPress Plugins are a mixed blessing for most website owners. They can make it much easier to add specific functions to your site, but they can also bring your page loads to a screeching halt when they have a problem. It’s important to recognize that plug-ins are not a fire-and-forget solution. They take continual monitoring and maintenance to run efficiently, and old WordPress plugins are not uninstalled properly, they can leave “junk code” behind that will eventually cause problems with your site’s performance. 

Slim Down Your Files

When you embed links to files like images, videos, and PDFs in your site’s content, it can slow your page load time if the files are too large, or if your media library is too large, so it takes longer to search. Make sure your library is reviewed and purged periodically. When you link to a file, be sure that file is as small as it can be, and still be useful. One common example is using 300 DPI (print quality) photo files, which are overkill for a website because the photos will only be displayed at 72 DPI in the viewer’s browser. 

Font Discipline

Although there are tens of thousands of fonts available to choose from, it’s always best to use a web font on your site. These are fonts that every web browser is able to display correctly and consistently. When you use a non-web font, your site code will include instructions to the viewer’s browser, basically a decision tree, which the browser uses if the font you’ve used is not available to it. That “decision” process takes time and slows your page load. If you must use a non-web font for a section of your site, consider using that font to create an image of that section, so the viewer’s browser will simply display that image, rather than trying to decide how to render an unfamiliar font. 

Everything In Order

The more complex your site is, the more advisable it is to consider including code that instructs the browser on the order in which to load your page elements. A skilled web designer can code your site so that the viewer gets an immediate response, and the slowest elements load last. Obviously, the critical elements of your site, the core content and basic functions, should load first. Features that enhance the user experience can load next, and after that, third-party content like maps or ads, and JavaScript. These latter elements are the ones that typically take longest to load, so leaving them for last decreases the chances that viewers will get discouraged waiting and leave. 

Streamline Your Site For The Best Web Speed And Conversion Rates 

Don’t sabotage your success with a bloated website that discourages potential customers. Not only will they leave and not return, but they’ll also report their frustration to friends, colleagues, and others, which further harms your success. Take steps to optimize your website’s speed and performance, and start enjoying the rewards.