How important is the rapid loading time of your website?

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Do you need to provide a wonderful website user experience? Then focus should be diverted towards page loading. Usually page loading time is compromised to adjust a high end aesthetic design or even more content. But the reality is that website users are more concerned about the performance part rather than the functioning of a website. Moreover, today even search engines are identifying the loading time of a web page as one of the most important parameters in ranking a website. Before moving on to the crux of the matter, let’s have a look at some facts & figures which reflect the importance of loading time.

  • Conversions reduce by approximately less than 10% if a page responds after a delay of 1 second.
  • Roughly 40% of all the mobile internet users get frustrated with a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
  • Around half of all mobile internet users expect a page of the website to be loaded in less than 2 seconds.
  • Almost 40% of all the mobile internet users have come across an unavailable website.
  • Almost half of all the mobile internet users have come across a website with errors, frozen pages & crash on the website.
  • More than 70% of all mobile internet users have come across a slow loading website.

website speed

Effective tools to check the loading time

Website loading time has become a topic of interest for Google because today visitors are pretty much busy & always in a hurry to have a look at different websites. Nowadays nobody is willing to wait for centuries for a website to load. To cut it short, your site will lose out on a huge number of visitors if it fails to load or loads very slowly. What’s worse is that losing visitors mean losing out on traffic which means ultimately losing out on reputation. Henceforth is it very important to check how your website loads before actually jumping on to speeding up the things.

Without knowing the actual reasons, you can’t simply put the speeding techniques to work. There are a number of multiple site tests, comprehensive tests, & simple speed tests which offer suggestions related to performance enhancement of a website. They are as follows: Google PageSpeed, YSlow, GTMetrix, Pingdom, Web Page Analyzer, Load Impact, OctaGate SiteTimer, WebPageTest, Light Speed Now, Site-Perf, WebWait, WebSlug, WebToolHub, IWebTool, SearchMetrics, BrowserMob, Pylot, PageTest, Multi-Mechanize, and lots more.

Efficient techniques to speed up the website

There are many ways to enhance the loading time of a page could by optimizing the web pages. Let’s have a close look at each one of them.

Let CDN do all the work

If you are still having problems in bringing down your loading time even though your website has been popular for so long, then opt for Content Delivery Networks (CDN). These networks help as an intermediary to serve the pages to a user depending on a specific geographical location where he/she is situated. Rapid access to the nearest server will lead to faster loading of a web page to a particular user.

Do not have too many redirects

A 301 redirect is the best way not to lose out on the search engine scenario & at the same time change your site structure thoroughly. But when too many redirects are stacked together, it will create a hell of a lot of confusion not just for the browser but even for the users, slowing down the loading as well as the conversion process. So try to avoid having too many of them.

Cache it out

Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress contain various different plugins that cache a page with the latest version. They also have the page displayed to the users so that there is no dynamic generation of pages each time by the browser.

Images shouldn’t be resized using HTML

Most people think that HTML has got the ability to create a miniature version of a given graphic. But less size does not mean that it will consume less space on the server. The browser needs to load the complete image. So it is always advisable to check the height as well as width, and then resize it as per your requirements.

GZIP compression should be utilized

It should be checked whether your web hosting service uses GZIP deflation & compression on its servers or not. These two techniques add up the speed of a site by reducing the actual file size by 70% without compromising on the site, videos, or image quality.

Leveraged browser caching

Your website files do not change that often such as JavaScript assets, CSS files, & even images. The loading time of a certain page could be enhanced by instructing the browser to cache these files so that whenever a user visits the site, these resources need not be downloaded again for viewing. For achieving this, web server configuration should be updated to serve resources led by Expires headers. In such a way the browser is being instructed how long to keep in store the cache files. The easiest way for updating configuration on Apache server is to use a file .htaccess.

CSS SPRITES should be used

The number of HTTP requests can be reduced by using CSS sprites, which is a collection of multiple images within a single file of images. CSS sprite is important especially when you have a whole lot of small sized icons. First you set up a background image to the sprite on an element of HTML with the help of CSS, and then have the background image so placed using CSS code that only that sprite image is visible that you would like to see.

@import should be avoided

@import rule in CSS helps to load files related to CSS into a stylesheet. This is useful at many times but here the problem lies in the fact that @import files cannot be downloaded in parallel with the actual stylesheet because it increases the loading time of the page on an overall basis. It is always better to use several <link> tags or copy CSS from external sources to actual stylesheet, rather than using @import.

JavaScript & CSS code should be minimized

If you magnify the JavaScript & CSS code, you can actually optimize your code, remove unnecessary space & even reduce the asset size. But it will in turn also make it difficult for the users to read. So always go for the minimized version when launching a site.

Images should be optimized

Optimizing images & resizing them as per needs can really help in increasing load time by decreasing the sizes of web pages. Using too many larger images will result in unnecessary data gathering inside a website.

Is Google serious about website loading time?

Is it really a big deal when your rankings on Google are affected by the loading time of your website? It might be amongst those 200 signals for rank determination. But it doesn’t mean that you need not to consider it important. To help visitors move fast on your website, optimizing the loading time of the page becomes absolutely important. It is a better use of time than to focus on the meta tags. Site speed is a new signal nowadays but it does not hold the same importance as page relevance. Right now, less than 1% search queries are actually affected from site speed. The loading time is not a significant parameter but surely contributes to falling & rise in conversion rates. Each time you emphasize on the loading time parameter, you tend to increase trust & confidence on your site. This way your credibility spreads through word of mouth. So remember, a few seconds do make a big difference.

Stephen Moyers is a Writer, Web Designer, Blogger, Technology lover. He is currently associated with SPINX Digital a creative design agency based in LA, California. You can follow Stephen on Twitter and Google+.

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