Ever noticed that goldfish you have at home? Swimming endlessly – from one corner of its fishbowl to another? Well, research shows that it has a better attention span than you.
I am not kidding.
The average attention span of human beings has dropped from 12 to eight seconds in the last 20 years, which is less than a goldfish’s – which is nine seconds.
Although this random nugget of trivia is controversial, it has many implications, one of which is related to your business website.
You see – 53% of web users in today’s fast-paced world leave a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. Imagine – you have earned a click, then lost it along with the chance of conversion only because your website didn’t load fast enough.
That hurts, doesn’t it?
While page relevance and page ranking are still notable metrics for a website to adhere to, website loading time is also a vital usability metric, according to Google. The said metric not only accounts for the page rank but also has an enormous impact on the rate of conversion and whether or not the visitor will stay on the website.
So, it is obvious you can’t afford to have a slow-loading site. There are too many incentives at stake!
But how do you do it?
What hacks must you implement to make your website load at lightning speed?
Here are some of the quick-win hacks:
Enable browser caching
This is perhaps the most common hack for improving the web page loading time. When a user visits your website for the very first time, the main components of the webpage are saved in temporary storage or on the hard drive.
That means their browser can easily access your website without having to send the server another HTTP request, and the user can open it easily the next time they visit your site – almost instantaneously.
Plugins are “plugged in” to improve a specific functionality of the website, which could include adding extra information, offering a smoother integration between your site and an external tool, or changing the visual elements.
However, an increasing number of plugins take longer to load. An example – “Facebook like box” is known to slow down the website by adding a whopping 700 KB to the overall page weight! Likewise, lower quality plugins increase load times too. The key is to keep the high-quality plugins your website actually needs, and remove the unnecessary ones.
This suggestion is not just for WP sites but for others too like extensions in Joomla, front-end libraries, etc.
Optimize your CSS code
Not so long ago, an ideal web page size was just 30KB. Mind you – that included content, images, codes, and graphics. Soon, the popularity of CSS script grew, for it could deliver an enhanced web user experience.
However, that has its downsides. The more CSS files you have on your website, the more HTTP requests it is forced to make, thus slowing down the site. Here are three best practices:
Make the code as short as possible by using fewer operators and declarations. Fewer lines of the CSS script means fewer processing cycles and shorter page loading times.
Make sure your CMS has already optimized your CSS. If not, using an external tool such as CSS Minifier to minimize the resource files is advisable. That way, the website will load faster.
Changing the structure of your website is unavoidable. This means your page URLs also get changed. But since you don’t want to confuse your web visitors with different URLs, or lower the ranking of any of those pages, you turn to redirect your clicks from an old URL to the new one.
The 301 redirects ensure the old URL still works, even though it technically doesn’t exist. However, this easy solution decreases the page loading time because the process creates links in a chain that your browser must pass through to land on the new URL.
Therefore, limit your 301 redirects.
Reduce image size
Humans have evolved to be visual beings.
It is no surprise that the human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text. And when it comes to websites, nobody likes to spend time on one that is drab and too full of information without any visual representation.
No wonder, any competent website has a fair share of visual content – from pictures and slideshows to gifs and videos, thereby increasing their conversion rate by 7x.
However, despite the positives, images specifically increase the loading time of a webpage. The only hack to deal with this challenge is to rescale the images. And that doesn’t mean cropping them because the page would still have to load the entire image and display it in a smaller size than its original one.
The solution here is to resize the pictures and compress them. 25% of webpages can save more than 250KB, and about 10% of them can save more than 1MB by merely compressing the large files, according to Google. Check out number of tools to compress the images without compromising the quality.
Therefore, optimize your web images and decrease the page loading time.
Use third-party hosting
If your website has large files containing images and videos, the page load time will significantly increase. Further, the load time increases even more if you use a shared server to host the files, especially videos.
To solve the problem, share the video files on external hosting platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo. The video can then be embedded on the website with a simple code, thereby improving the website loading speed considerably.
If using WordPress then you should also consider premium hosting for consistent reliable page load time and security.
Compression and Caching
A Machmetrics study shows that the websites, on average, have a page loading time of about 8-11 seconds. That might seem like a small number, but as mentioned earlier, website visitors don’t wait for more than three seconds for a web page to open.
That’s where compressing all the static contents of the site comes in handy. Usually, compression is more of a server setting. However, if that is not an option, use file formats and other applications like Gzip, which identify strings of the same code in the text files.
Most of the hosting platform offers multi-tier caching in their plan. Talk to your hosting provider to find out what are those available and how you can enable on your sites. Example, SiteGround offer static, dynamic, Memcached and HHVM caching solution.
And for WP sites, Kinsta offer server-side caching and a powerful in-house developed plugin to manage the site caching.
Doing so will decrease the website page loading time significantly.
Website speed matters a lot. It is the first impression you make on first-time visitors. And yes, poor page loading times adversely affect your search rankings, user experience, and conversions. Why let that happen when the problem can be fixed easily with our seven hacks?
Also, if you want to check your website’s speed performance on desktop and mobile, you can do so on Geekflare Audit for free.
Asavari is a B2B content strategist and web journalist. She is known for her strategic and authentic marketing initiatives that help SMBs across the globe drive sales and make profits. She is also an advocate of a healthy work-life balance.
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