The speed at which your website loads plays a vital role in its success. It not only affects the visibility of your website and its conversion rate, but also the bounce rate of visitors.
According to Google’s research, the chance of a bounce happening increased by 32% whenever the load time of a page went from one to three seconds long. If your site takes more than five seconds to load, you can expect most of your potential visitors to have left by then.
Why Website Loading Speed Is Important
People today just expect websites to load fast, even on mobile connections that can still be significantly slower than broadband-connected home or office networks. Even if your site visitors know they’re on a slow connection, many of them will still fault your site—reflecting poorly on their opinion of your customer experience.
In this scenario, you won’t just notice your conversion rate dropping. You’ll most likely experience higher page bounce rates too.
Slow-loading websites have been a problem for brands and businesses for many years. In fact, a report from NNGroup mentioned that today’s websites aren’t actually that much faster than the standard sites they had ten years ago.
Furthermore, Google is already looking at site speed as one of its ranking factors for both mobile and desktop websites. If you’re unable to maintain a stable site performance, your search ranking may go down, resulting in less traffic.
That’s why website optimization is more crucial today than ever.
Common Reasons Your Website Is Slow and How to Fix Them
Now that you know what’s at stake when it comes to site load speed, you must start optimizing your site so that it can have the quickest load time possible. Your website should load quickly no matter what browser or device people use.
To apply the right optimization efforts, you must first know the common reasons for a slow-loading website.
1. Your Website Is Still Using Flash Technology
One of the most common reasons why websites load slowly is because they are still using Adobe Flash technology. Not too long ago, Flash was an extremely popular and useful tool that made sites highly interactive and engaging. The issue in continuing to use this feature is that it is no longer being updated.
In fact, Adobe announced back in 2017 its plans for ending Flash technology at the end of 2020. They also warned all Flash users that they would discontinue all updates, developments, and support for their tool. Adobe even started blocking any Flash content that still uses Flash Player to prevent Flash users from continuing to use the antiquated technology.
If your website is still using Adobe Flash, retire it as soon as possible. Besides generating loading errors for your visitors and causing a bad user experience, obsolete technology also becomes a security risk. Using outdated software is one of the main forms of attack employed by cybercriminals.
Fortunately, everything that you need for rendering interactive graphical content for your website is available with HTML5. This programming language also enhances page load speed thanks to its improved graphic interactions, cross-browser support, and storage solutions.
Digging into your site’s code can reveal why your support scripts are stumbling in the background. During our own user experience audits, we’ve uncovered:
- Scripts relying on outdated open source libraries.
- Scripts that power excess animations or rarely-used features.
These three solutions have their advantages and disadvantages. It’s up to you to decide which one you believe is best for your website.
3. You Are Not Leveraging Caching Methods for Your Website
The web pages of your site are composed of numerous files — many of them being static. Each navigation and interaction within the site from a user sends out requests to your assigned servers. These servers then respond by sending back the necessary files.
This entire process takes time to complete. It is not necessary to load every individual file in the servers whenever a user decides to visit your website. This is particularly important if the user is only requesting static data such as from an about page.
You can avoid unnecessary data loading through HTTP requests by implementing the right caching techniques on your site. Caching is useful because it enhances site performance while ensuring local copies of your static assets are kept at the ready.
Site owners can choose to apply browser caching or server-side caching methods. Whichever you choose, you will most likely notice significant improvements in your website optimization.
4. The CSS of Your Website Isn’t Optimized
A few solutions to bring your CSS up to standard are:
- Combine your external CSS files into one or just a few files if you have many of them.
- Get rid of your external CSS and utilize inline CSS instead.
- Take advantage of media types so you can specify whenever certain CSS files are needed.
By specifying media times and then combining all external CSS files, you should be able to have a positive impact on your site’s UX.
5. You Haven’t Optimized Your Images
Using the right types of media can catch the attention of your site visitors and encourage them to engage with your web pages. However, if your videos, images, and sounds aren’t properly encoded and optimized, they can seriously slow down your website experience.
That’s why you want to optimize the visual files you upload to your website. You can optimize an image by reducing its file size and saving it in memory-friendly formats. Most of today’s popular content management systems will even do this for you on the fly, as you upload new images to your website.
Likewise, you can speed up videos by encoding and hosting them on a third-party content delivery network that’s separate from your site’s content management system. This way, you’ll not only shrink the size of the files, you’ll open up an additional backchannel for your visitor’s browser to load those videos.
The success of your website highly depends on how fast it can load for your site visitors. We help our clients uncover stumbling blocks like these during our User Experience Express Audits. Let’s start with a complimentary discovery session, where we can learn about your goals and unpack some of the surprises hiding inside your site’s systems.