Having a quick website is essential for retaining customers on your site. Here's how to improve your page load speed.
Have you ever clicked on a website from Google and found it took an age to load? What did you do? You probably didn't wait for it to load, rather you clicked off the website and went onto another one. You aren't alone in this, one study showed that bounce rates (the number of people leaving your site) went up to over a huge 38% of traffic if the website took over 5 seconds to load. You read that right 5 seconds!
The last thing that you want is for the customers that you put so much effort into finding you, leaving you before they even look at your business because your website took too long to load. So what can you do about it? Here are two big ways that you can increase the speed that your website loads.
Images on websites are now commonplace, and to be honest, are needed to give your website a design that looks both appealing, and shows who you are as a business. But images are the number one reason why websites load slowly, why is that? Every image that you have on your website has to be sent over the internet to the customer, so the more images you have the more data has to be sent. But, it's not necessarily the number of images that you have, rather the size of these images. If you aren't careful the file size of one image can soar, meaning the amount of data that needs to be sent increases fast, resulting in slower load speeds.
How do we combat this? There are a few ways, but here are the main few:
Three of the main formats are, JPEG, PNG and SVG. Remembering which is which can get confusing though, so here is a quick explanation and some examples of when to use them. SVG's are vector-based, used for flat line drawings, icons, and logos that will scale to any size while the file size remains small. PNG's are lossless and raster-based, used for images that need crisp lines or text (but do not need to scale), and for images that need transparency and have few colours. JPEG's are lossy and raster-based, used for photos and images with lots of colours where crisp lines aren’t essential, and transparency is not needed.
Choosing the wrong image format could result in the size of the files being much larger than they need to be. So make sure you choose the correct image format.
The biggest reason for image files being too large is that you are uploading images that are too big for the context where they are being used. While some platforms handle re-sizing for you, it is always best to upload an image a few hundred pixels larger than what you need it for, this way the image will never lose quality and become grainy, and the file size will be a lot smaller than the original file.
A small rule of thumb is that a hero image never really needs to be larger than 1600px wide, and a product image 800px. The size of the image will depend on where you are using it, and there are tools available to help you find out the size required.
Image files also come with a lot of data that is not seen, this data is called Metadata. While this information is useful for your computer to tell you where and when the photograph was taken, you don't need this information on your website. Luckily there are several websites that will automatically remove all unnecessary data from the photograph. Just Google "Image optimiser" and upload your photos, and they will return images that are as small a file size as possible.
Most web platforms do not come with all you need, hence the need for plugins that give you the functionality on your website that you need. The downside to this is that a lot of the plugins will install code on your website that bloats the size of the data, and while this code is needed for the plugin, they may not have been built for speed or optimisation. This is not the case for all plugins though, so do your research and make sure you select the best plugin that you can find and only install plugins that you need to use - everything you install onto your website will have an impact on the performance of it.
These are the two most common ways that you can increase the speed of your website, but if after doing these and your website is still running slow, you may need some professional help. If this is you, contact us and we can offer you our Web Audit service, where we can identify factors which are slowing your website down and look at how we can improve that for you.