When a visitor comes to your website, the first thing they notice is the loading speed. If they have to wait for all your website elements to load, they might leave your website and visit another webpage that may belong to your competitors. They also notice the usability of the website for quick interaction.
This whole user experience regarding your website visit is known as website performance. Apart from the perspective of users, web performance plays a crucial role in ranking as well.
So, there is no denying its importance. For this reason, everyone from website owners to web developers should be aware of different aspects of website performance.
What Is Website Performance?
Website performance primarily means the website’s loading speed. It also indicates the usability, interactivity, and reliability of a website. A website that performs well can establish our brand image and let the visitors interact more with the website. It is also beneficial for the website to achieve a higher rank in SERP.
Website performance is the very first thing a visitor experiences when they come to your website. By influencing visitors to make an interaction or purchase decision, web performance can have a great impact on them through the first impression.
If you want your website to be high-performing, you need to continuously work on improving website performance through optimization.
Impact of Website Performance
A slow and clunky website means visitors with a negative experience that will affect your business. Loading speed and website performance will improve the user experience (UX) of the visitors and give them a lasting impression. Better UX will also contribute to a higher conversion rate.
User engagement means how visitors interact with a website. Website performance has a great impact on it as it decides the level of satisfaction and involvement of the visitors. Slow websites get easily abandoned, while fast-loading websites easily hook the users from the moment someone lands on the webpage.
As it continues to offer a positive experience, users want to spend more time on the website exploring more pages.
Website performance is closely linked with the conversion rate of a business website. High page-loading speed often makes the users buy from an online store instead of a traditional shop. Even a minor increase in the speed can make a lot of difference.
All the points mentioned above play a significant and direct role in the visibility of your website in search results. Both desktop and mobile page speed work as a determining factor in Google’s ranking algorithm. Hence, it can be said that page speed and website performance influence your website ranking.
Metrics That Determine Website Performance
The speed of your website is determined by certain metrics, also known as core web vitals. Here are some crucial aspects that impact the loading speed.
#1. Load Time
It is the most common metric used for website speed assessment. It refers to the time taken to load all the website elements from the moment someone tries to access your website. Less than 2 seconds is considered the ideal page load time to stop visitors from abandoning the website.
#2. Render Time
The start render time refers to the time when a visitor first sees the webpage appear on their browser. The webpage might take more time to load all the elements, but a fast rendering of a website influences users to spend more time on your website. WordPress users can eliminate render-blocking resources for better website performance.
#3. TTFB (Time to First Byte)
TTFB means the time taken to receive the first byte of data from the server against the request for a webpage. An ideal TTFB is around 200 milliseconds, which is quite achievable through HTML document caching.
Factors That Contribute to Website Performance
#1. Server Response Time
It means the time a website takes to load all the HTML before it can start rendering from the server minus the network latency time. If the difference is big, the website might have some hidden performance issues.
#2. Network Latency
Latency is a vital factor that determines the speed and responsiveness of a website. It measures the time a data packet takes to travel from the source to the destination (browser to server or server to browser).
Usually, first-time visitors experience higher network latency because the things like DNS lookup, a TCP handshake, and a secure TLS negotiation take place. After the first connection, the subsequent visits will entail lower latency. Websites should aim for as low latency as possible for the first visit for user satisfaction.
#3. Code Efficiency
Code efficiency refers to the optimized code that can deliver performance by utilizing most of the resources. An efficiently written code not only reduces memory usage, server load, and unnecessary computation but also makes the websites fast and responsive. Moreover, it is easy to maintain for long-term web projects.
Caching content is an effective way to optimize website performance. It means temporarily storing data close to the location of end-users for quick fetching. Caching could be browser-side or server-side.
Browser-side caching is done by the web browser when it stores CSS files and images in the local storage from the first visit. On the other hand, server-side caching is implemented by proxy servers.
With optimized front-end performance, websites can reduce load times and offer an improved experience to the users. Through user satisfaction and higher engagement, it leads to better conversion rates. To maintain a high level of front-end website performance, regular testing and performance audits are mandatory.
What Is Front-End Performance?
Front-end performance means the speed and efficiency of the UI and UX of a website. Front-end elements are the ones (layout, interactivity, design) with which users directly interact through the web browsers. To improve the front-end performance of your website, you need to optimize the website assets like images, videos, CSS, and JSS files.
Best Practices to Optimize Front-End Performance
Media File Optimization
Using large image and video files often decreases the load time of your web page. Hence, you should always minimize the file sizes for quick site loading.
Reduce HTTP Requests
Another way to improve front-end performance is to minimize the number of HTTP requests. As the website owner, you can combine multiple files into a single file, using CSS sprites (turning multiple image files into one file), and reduce external resources to decrease the requests.
You can also use Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to improve website performance. It caches website files on global servers, so the distance between the end user and the server is reduced significantly.
Content delivery optimization means optimizing the delivery of your website content from your website servers to the users. Compressing the website code, the technique enables the website to load more quickly and efficiently.
Slow back-end processes mean increased waiting periods and longer response times. To deliver users a positive experience and reduce page load time, improved back-end performance is critical. To make back-end infrastructure better, web developers use code optimization, load balancing, database tuning, regular monitoring, and profiling.
What Is Back-End Performance?
The back-end performance of a website refers to the overall efficiency of the server-side processes that manage data processing, speed, responsiveness, and database interactions. The performance of the web server, database, and other server-side components are also involved in it.
The back-end solutions ensure quick and stable data paths from the hosting server to the devices of the end users. These also make sure the proper functioning of the front-end features.
Techniques to Improve Back-End Performance
#1. Optimizing Database Queries
For efficient database queries, you need to optimize those by using indexed columns, making fewer database calls, or avoiding making duplicate queries.
#2. Server-Side Caching
Opting for server-side caching to store frequently accessed data (database queries or expensive computations) also helps you improve the back-end performance of the website.
#3. Efficient Server Optimization
Another way to improve website performance is to optimize or configure the server to handle website traffic efficiently. This includes configuring the web server, database server, and server environment.
Best Practices to Optimize Mobile Performance
With more and more people accessing the web using their mobile devices, it is crucial for website owners to ensure that their website offers a top-notch experience to mobile users as well. For this reason, it has become a critical aspect of web development and optimization.
What Is Mobile Performance?
Mobile performance refers to the website’s performance when accessed from a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet. It includes different speed and UX parameters like webpage loading speed, interactiveness, smooth scrolling, responsiveness to user input, and device resource utilization.
Nowadays, users expect websites to load at lightning speed on their mobile. Hence, slow-loading sites have high bounce rates and poor search engine rankings. To check the loading time of your website on mobile devices, use these website speed audit tools.
Factors That Impact Mobile Performance
#1. Responsive Design
A responsive design means a dynamic size that will fit the user’s device, regardless of its screen size. It will ensure that mobile users view the website content in a single column. Besides user experience, a responsive website helps with SEO, as different search engines prioritize mobile-friendly websites for higher ranking.
#2. Mobile-Specific Optimizations
There should also be certain optimization done to your website design for mobile devices. For example, the buttons added to the website should not be too small or placed in an inappropriate spot. Use a consistent, large, and readable font. Also, using black as the font color is ideal even from viewing the website outside.
#3. Lazy Loading
Lazy loading means that the images and videos of your webpage will not load until the visitor scrolls down to that. It reduces the initial load time of the largest element and thus improves page loading speed and user experience.
PageSpeed Insights is a free tool that anyone can use to analyze the speed of a web page on both desktop and mobile devices. After analysis, this tool provides you with an insight report after assessing core web elements.
It uses metrics like First Contentful Paint, Speed Index, Time to Interactive, and Total Blocking Time to mark the web performance. This tool will also suggest some recommendations for improvement. After implementing the suggestions, you can again test your website load time to see the impact of the optimization.
Pingdom is another tool to check the loading speed of your website. You can enter the webpage URL and select the testing region. It will test your page load speed every 30 minutes. This tool also helps you understand the number of requests, request size, and ranking based on Yslow’s performance matrix.
Google Lighthouse is an open-source tool that can audit your website to provide performance metrics, including page speed, accessibility, and crawlability. A performance report from Lighthouse will include web performance, best practices, SEO, accessibility, and installability.
#4. GT Metrix
You can use GT Metrix to find out how fast your website loads on the screen of the users. It not only tells you about the website’s performance but also reveals the reason behind the slowness and optimization opportunities. Besides the performance summary and different performance criteria, it also displays the report history of the website.
Importance of Ongoing Performance Optimization and Maintenance
If you have a slow and unresponsive website, there will be lots of page abandonment, and it will secure a lower ranking in the search engine.
Using tools like Google Page Speed Insights and others mentioned in this article, you can easily identify the issues and take necessary steps to fix those for website speed optimization. WordPress websites can be optimized for faster loading using these WP plugins.
Website performance optimization is an ongoing process. Thinking it to be complete after one-time optimization lets you miss potential chances to improve the performance. By continuously optimizing web performance, you can ensure —
Achieve better retention rate for the website visitors
If you want your website to help you generate more sales and ROI, website performance is an aspect you can not ignore. Especially in today’s scenario, when user expectations are rising and user patience is falling, businesses must prioritize website performance optimization.
Be it load times, render speed, or responsiveness, every element that impacts user experience should be managed carefully. You can go through the approaches mentioned here to optimize different aspects of website performance. Also, use the performance monitoring tools to easily identify the bottlenecks and improve them by following the suggestions.