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Investing in website speed – Is it worth it?

BFO-website speed

Today it’s relatively easy to get a website up and running. Search for a website hosting platform, check out prices and then go with an inexpensive service on a shared hosting platform to get you started. You’ve got a great website design team that is sure to outshine your competition.

You’re ready to start building your way to victory with an awesome website that will make your customers happy and knock out your competitors – right?

One of the items on that list is critical to your online success. I mentioned that you went with a shared hosting platform because it costs less because you won’t have a lot of traffic during testing and other preparations to go live.

Once your website goes live, however, you should move up to a better dedicated hosting package to give your customers a better experience. No one likes to wait for a page to load.

But your product or service is worth the wait – right? Even if it is, your customers expect a business site to load fast and you should meet that expectation.

Slow loading pages make people angry. At an analytics summit, this subject came up. Here are a few typical user comments when sites load slowly:

  • Page is too slow to load.
  • Page had to load two times to work. Does it on all my devices.
  • What’s the matter with your website?
  • Website is horrible, why I never shop here!

Slow web pages frustrate and confuse visitors. Not only does this hurt your customers, it will also hurt your SEO because page-loading speed is a factor in organic ranking.

How to Fix a Slow Website

First off, don’t use the Google Analytics page speed tracker to diagnose speed issues. It uses sampled data, and of that sampled data, it uses only 1%. Instead, use tools like Pingdom and GTMetrix.

Remember that these are guidelines. Don’t sacrifice functionality for speed. If your customers want to browse products on that page, still show the products, but maybe use smaller thumbnails or a different compression algorithm on the images. Consider limiting the number of images showing up on that page until someone clicks the “next page” button.

Top areas for improvement

Remember – these are just guidelines. Each website will be different, however, there are a few areas that are more “heavy hitting” than others. Meaning that if you focus on these areas first, you will see more improvement.

From my experience, here are the five areas that I like to focus on first:

1 Page Size – The smaller the page, the faster the data will transfer

2 Avoid Bad Requests – Don’t try to pull items that are broken / the file has been removed

3 Image Size – photos shouldn’t be resized using HTML – upload the correct sized image so the browser does not have to resize them.

4 Valid XHTML and CSS – The W3C has a coding standard that the web browsers use – following that will help the humans see an increased speed.

5 Static resource cache – this is a bit different from regular cache, but in your HTACCESS file, you can specify to a browser how long to keep this resource in the user’s cache. That way they don’t have to re-request it – making your website load much faster (only the items that have changed).

Keep the humans and the search engines happy on your website. When considering a new design or new feature that adds the cool factor to the site, keep in mind how the changes affect website speed and UX.