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How & Why | Website Speed Matters

You may not think that website speed matters or would affect your bottom line, but you are wrong. Website speed is important for several reasons, including improved customer experience and higher search engine rankings.

When it comes to customers, they want the information they need quickly and efficiently in order to make an informed decision about their purchase. The faster a web page can load in under one second, the more customers will stay on that site instead of abandoning it because of slow loading times. 

This also means fewer returns because people are less frustrated with the process. And don’t forget about SEO! Google has confirmed many times over that site speeds are a factor in ranking websites within their search engine results pages (SERPs).

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So how can you make your website faster?

 There are many ways, but here are a few to get you started:

  • Optimize images
  • Enable caching
  • Use a content delivery network (CDN)
  • Cloud Hosting
  • Use a fast framework
  • Website speed optimisation services
 

All of these tips will help your site load faster and make your business more successful.

The process of optimising images is the act of making them smaller in file size, while not changing their quality drastically

 This means images are more likely to load quickly on the web, especially over slower internet connections. For example, a photo of a family member might have a file size of around 100KB. If this image was to be optimised the same quality would result in a file size around 10KB; this would make for a significant improvement.

Image format and type

The image formats you use depend on the web browser support. The more popular image formats are PNG, JPG/JPEG and GIF.

The type of images you use might also depend on the usage. For example, a line art might be better saved as a black and white PNG image with no transparency, whereas a photograph would be better saved as a JPEG image.

Image optimisation tools

There are lots of online and offline tools to help you optimise images. Some of these tools allow you to upload images and then optimise them, while others let you paste the URL of an image and then optimise it.

Here are some popular tools:

1. The GIMP ( http://www.gimp.org/ ) is a free Photoshop alternative and has a built in command to optimise images. This is available on the “File” tab.

2. Photoshop ( https://www.adobe.com/uk/creativecloud.html ) is the market leader photo editing tool, and this comes with a built in command to optimise images. This is available from the “Save for Web” option, which appears as an additional tab when saving an image.

3. Online tools ( http://imageoptimizer.net/ and http://www.smushit.com/ysmush.it/ ) let you upload an image, optimise it and then download the results. Images are optimised on-the-fly so there is no need to wait for the optimisation process to finish.

4. Offline tools (such as PNGGauntlet and RIOT) can be used on individual images or groups of images. These tools also allow you to add additional processing steps such as converting layers and removing meta-data.

Optimising multiple images at once

You can use a command line tool such as optipng or pngcrush on multiple images at once, but first you need to identify their file names. You can either do this manually, or use a tool such as Bulk Rename Utility ( https://www.bulkrenameutility.co.uk/ ).

Image optimisation configuration in Cloudinary

Cloudinary is a cloud-based image management solution that can be used to create a dynamic presentation of images. Cloudinary allows you to automatically optimise, manipulate and deliver images via a fast CDN.

Caching is a technique used to speed up websites, particularly ones which use dynamic content

It works by storing the information from a previously requested page so that, when a page is requested again, the content doesn’t need to be generated and delivered.

What is CDN?

CDNs are servers that use the bandwidth of back-end systems to provide fast access to files across a network. A CDN can provide a couple of advantages to your business:

1. Scalability and High Availability: CDNs take load away from the origin server, providing more capacity for the origin server to handle traffic peaks, avoid downtime during system maintenance periods and provide scalability by allowing you to easily add content delivery servers when you have a growing number of users.

2. Faster Performance: Because the content is served from a system that is close to your users, rather than from the origin server which could be located far away in another city, country or continent, content requests are reduced in latency. This means that users experience faster page load speeds.

Overhead shot of three professionals around work station

You want a website that loads as fast as possible. What should you do? Cloud hosting!

Why does cloud hosting make websites load faster? Because as your site takes more traffic, the host increases resources to fit the demand. This means that when your website is slow, they’ll give it more resources if you buy premium service. For example: If your site gets 30 thousand visitors per day, and it takes 20 seconds to load, you might buy a hosting plan for $20 – $100 USD per month. After buying the plan, when there’s 50 thousand visitors and the loading time is still 20 seconds (or more), you’ll get upgraded to premium service automatically by the host! This means that your site will now load under 10 seconds.

Why would I want to use Cloud hosting? If you’re blogging, you might not care about how quickly your website loads. You are probably fine with any WordPress or Blogger plan that’s offered for free. If the load time is okay, it doesn’t matter if it takes a while for the website to load. However, if you are running a business, you might need your website to be as fast as possible. For example: A “Design Agency” would want their site to load under 5 seconds because that means they’ll have more visitors/potential clients who will look at their services or portfolio. Another example is that if a customer visits a clothing store’s website, they would want to see the clothes as fast as possible because nobody wants to wait. But what if you have 100 thousand visitors? Then you’ll have to buy a cloud hosting service from your host so that your site can handle all of those people.

What is Cloud Hosting? It’s a plan that allows your website to handle more traffic, and it works by distributing the load across multiple servers. If you have a slow website, then that means that all of the visitors are going to one server (or computer) which will make your site even slower. Cloud hosting is like having multiple websites on different servers sharing the same banner/header/footer so that your site’s page loading times are faster.

Cloud Hosting – https://fireskystudios.com/cloud-hosting/

Wordpress website management

Why fast website theme matters?

Well, fast website frameworks simply provide a better user experience than slow ones. That’s just the way it is. Consumers are now used to fast websites that load in just a couple of seconds over fast internet connections that they have at home or on their smartphones. If it takes more than 3 seconds for your website to load, you are likely to have a high bounce rate. Which means users will leave your website and go else where. This is not good for your business, the customer experience and the search engines wont rank your website if bounce rate is high.

Part of the equation for website speed is getting a fast loading theme early on. This has a positive impact on general loading times due to the lean coding setup on the theme framework. 

Here are some of the fastest themes for WordPress based websites.

10 Fastest WordPress Themes in 2022 (Tested and Compared)

Speed is integral to voice search

Speed is integral to voice search, after all if you have a slow loading website there is a high probability that your website won’t be shown for that search query when someone asks SIRI or OK Google for example, a question on a service or product your website offers.

Voice search is mainly on mobile and so search engines want to provide the best result to the end user. Speed is a factor in the equation, it’s part of the instant algorithmic process in determining whether your site sets returned in the search engine listings.

With the advent of voice search, it is more important than ever to make sure your website is optimized for this new way of searching. Voice search uses natural language processing to interpret queries, so you need to make sure your content is written in a way that will be understood by Google and other search engines.

How to check your website speed

Website speed tests are not just for developers any more. If you have a website or blog that you are trying to promote then the speed in which the page loads is becoming increasingly important when considering SEO factors, usability & conversion rates.

Here are a few great tools for testing website speed.

GTMetrix – https://gtmetrix.com/

Pagespeed Insights – https://pagespeed.web.dev/