How do you know if your website is performing well or poorly? What tools or metrics do you use to measure that performance? So many companies simply don't have no idea where to start or feel it’s too complicated to know. We are going to try to explain some basics in this blog article.
Website is a set of documents and resources, different types of scripts (JS), styles (CSS), images etc. Number and size of resources affect website speed, but there are other factors like different processes like DNS lookups, TCP handshake or TLS/SSL handshake. Also distance between client and server has to be taken into consideration. Some parts of that are impossible to influence, but developing a website there are different ways and tools to improve your website's performance.
Why performance is such an important thing?
- Slow website speed has the potential to negatively influence your SEO, better the speed better the user experience. Maybe you heard Google is obsessed with speed? Google has used page speed as a ranking factor for desktop searches since 2010, and in July 2018, Google began using page speed as a ranking factor for mobile searches as well. If your site's slow load times cause Google to rank it lower on the search engine results page (SERP), your audience is less likely to find it.
- Poor performance may drive your visitors away. In most cases plenty of your competitors have a website, and if yours does not meet their expectations, they will go to them. These days people expect web pages to load within 2 seconds or less. Google found that 53% of mobile users will leave a page that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
- Slow site will hurt your sales and traffic in total. If you have an e-commerce site, an interesting stat is that one survey found that 79% of consumers say that poor web performance is enough to cause them to never want to return to make another purchase. Just a half a second difference in load time can make a 10% difference in sales for e-commerce.
Website speed and performance has never been more important. With combination of a visually appealing website, good content and great performance, you can keep customers happy and engaged, which will lead to increased sales and conversions.
Performance and User Experience (UX)
We want users to have good user experience on our website. If it is a presentational site we want people to give meaningful information as soon as possible, if it's a blog we want people to read posts, or if it's an online store we want them to buy stuff with great satisfaction. When your customers come to your website and are trying to access your content which is slowly loading, how satisfied are they going to be? In the digital world we are incredibly impatient, all of us expect near instant response when we try to access some website. Research shows that internet users expect websites to load in less than three seconds. Slower than that it is expected for the user to look for information or a product to purchase on your competitor website.
It means you can have a great design and content, but users will still leave your website, just because it is too slow. Also, more than half of all web traffic is coming from mobile devices on connections that are slower than those available to desktop and laptop computers.
Taking all of that in consideration, website speed and performance has never been more important. With combination of a visually appealing website, good content and great performance, you can keep customers happy and engaged, which will lead to increased sales and conversions.
How to start monitoring website performance?
You can start with Google's Lighthouse. It is an automated tool for improving the quality of web pages. It has audits for performance, accessibility, progressive web apps, SEO and more.
You can run Lighthouse in Chrome DevTools, from the command line or as a Node module. Lighthouse can run a series of audits of the page, and then generates a report on how well the page did. From the results, you can see which audits failed with indicators on how to improve the page. Each audit has a reference doc explaining why the audit is important, as well as how to fix it.
You can always visit Google PageSpeed Insights to see how google ranks your website performance. Its results are based on Lighthouse.
You can also use Google Analytics that can help you performance monitoring your page load times across devices, locations or operating systems. In the Site Speed - Overview report you can see how your speed has trended and it will provide you with suggestions how to improve your website performance. You can also add any standard or custom segments, like how your website is behaving only on mobile devices. This tracking is very important for you to measure the impact of new features website speed.
Somebody would say the results are not true, but we dare you to check ;)
Ways how to improve website speed
Website speed is one of the major contributing factors to abandonment and high bounce rates, which is why you should be proactive in eliminating these common issues that can create a drag on your site.
Compression and resource prioritization
In a survey of websites, Google found that 25% of pages could save more than 250KB by compressing images and text, and 10% could save more than 1MB. Pages with large dataset take longer to load, and unnecessarily large file sizes are one of the major reasons for slow websites. A lot of Wordpress clients are used to upload a lot of large images from their phones. Usually phone images are easy over 1MB of size, and imagine how it would affect load speed if you have 10, 12 or even 30 images like that. So be sure you minimize the size of your files and images before you upload them to your website.
At least one thing that could be slowing down your website has nothing to do with the site itself. Choosing a proper hosting provider can significantly affect performance of your website. Always choose a host and a plan that matches the needs of your website and always choose a server with good Server Response Time (TTFB - Time to First Byte). Google recommends you aim for a response time lower than 200 milliseconds. 100ms for TTFB is ideal, and everything over 500ms is an issue.
Choosing proper technology and good coding standards
Every project has to start with choosing proper technology. Sometimes people will choose some framework or a library that is just overkill for their project, so be careful about that. Maybe it would be better and more efficient to use simply HTML, CSS and a little bit of JS, but developers would choose Wordpress just because it is easier and faster to finish out the project. Just to mention, we don't have anything against Wordpress, we also use it for some projects.
But at the and it all comes to the developer skills. Not every developer can write good and efficient code. Some produce websites with massive blocks of code that only perform minor functions and it results in a website that loads slowly. You can always use somebody with greater experience for code review. Removing some unnecessary block of codes or some plugins, you can see a big boost in your website performance.
As already mentioned in this article, today's web customers want their information as fast as it can be. We also know that it is harder as ever to achieve that as websites have more functionalities than ever. If you find that your website is taking too long to load, do not panic. Use the tools that we listed to test your website speed, they will give you a lot of help and all suggestions needed.
You’ve seen our results, so you can conclude that we know the job. You can also contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we are ready to help ;)