We’re living in a fast-paced world. Web visitors will decide whether to leave your page or to stay and explore in less than 15 seconds. We’ve seen 4-12 seconds as a common estimate of the range. If your website takes longer than 4 seconds to load, you’re losing visitors. If it takes 10 seconds, you should expect that slow speed to affect your search engine rankings.
So the first question is, just how fast is your website?
- Test your WordPress website with the WP Engine WordPress Speed Test.
- Test any site with Google’s test page.
Both these tools will give you recommendations. Some of those recommendations may not mean a lot to you — “Try to defer or asynchronously load blocking resources, or inline the critical portions of those resources directly in the HTML” is not a quick and easy fix for the average website owner. If it looks as though you have lots of tech issues, hire some help.
There are plenty of things that you have control of, though, if you manage your own website.
Optimize your images.
If you upload product photos, company pictures in your blog, or shots of your work in your portfolio, you might be slowing your site down every time you put in a new picture. Optimize your images by saving them for the web, not in the highest quality form that would be needed if you were printing a magazine. And resize them before you upload.
When you know you’re going to show an image at 425 pixels in a blog post, it doesn’t need to be uploaded at the 3500 pixel size your camera delivered to you. This is an easy fix even if you don’t have special tools. Use a simple graphics program like Paint to resize the image to the largest size you’ll need.
Reduce the number of elements on your page.
Some of the ways to achieve this goal have to do with the way your website is built. For example, you can ask your designer to use CSS for visual effects rather than images as much as possible. But you can also resist the temptation to use a slider at the top of the page and another one in your sidebar, plus a couple of cute animations, twelve big images, a video, and two cool interactive forms.
Just because you can put lots of stuff on a web page doesn’t mean that you should.
Clean up your code.
If your company website is old and uses outdated code, consider having a new website built, even if you still like the way the old one works.
If you’re redirecting pages often, look into other ways to meet the needs that are causing you to do that.
If you like to go the DIY route, you may also be slowing down your website by using drag and drop interfaces. We’re working on a website that uses Fusion Builder right now. If you choose tools like these to help you layout your pages, be sure not to use them for writing a blog post or placing in a picture. You can end up with excessive amounts of unneeded code.
Taking these steps can make a big difference in site speed. If you get a prescription from one of the tools linked above, take it to your webmaster and ask for help with any of the items you can’t do yourself. A fast website provides a better user experience.