In the early days of the internet, web users were conditioned to hours-long download speeds and websites that took up to several minutes to fully load on-screen. Those days are now just a distant memory as technology has propelled us into an era of instant gratification when browsing online.
In fact, if a website takes more than a few seconds to load, users are likely to give up and take their browsing elsewhere. If your website is plagued by slow loading times, you could be missing out on valuable traffic, causing a negative ripple effect throughout your digital marketing strategy.
If you are a small business owner, website design may not be your area of expertise. Where do you even begin to improve your site’s loading times? Here we’ll look at the factors that may be dragging down your site speed along with some solutions to restore your website’s performance.
Why Loading Speed Is Important
Think it’s no big deal if your website takes a couple of extra seconds to load? Think again. According to a 2019 survey by Unbounce, most users bounce from a page after just three seconds.
Moreover, nearly 70% of consumers say that load times influence their purchase decisions. Even if someone sticks around for your site to load, they may view your business as less capable or trustworthy—that puts a lot more pressure on your site copy and advertising to convert leads into paying customers.
Because slow load times can deter users from staying on your site, your site speed may also limit your visibility in search. Websites with less engagement may get buried in search results on Google and elsewhere, meaning your organic SEO can suffer if you have a slow website.
Which Factors Affect Website Load Times the Most?
Now that you know why load times matter, it’s important to narrow down where any lag is coming from when users try to visit your website.
- Hosting – Quality web hosting is essential to your site performance. If your website is hosted on a shared server without sufficient resources for every site hosted there, load times will be sluggish for all sites on the server. However, shared hosting offers the most budget-friendly hosting option, so it may be tough to move away from that. Fortunately, there is a budget-friendly solution available with cloud hosting. This provides you with a dedicated server and room for scalable growth in the future, without a hefty price tag.
- Image and Video Formats – Images and videos are sizeable files that can take extra time to load if they are not formatted correctly. About half of web users say they would give up video and animation on a website if it meant faster load times, so consider whether features like video backgrounds and animated graphics are truly contributing to your user experience.
- Poor or Redundant Coding – If your website is several years old, it’s likely seen various edits from numerous parties. Web designers, marketing teams, and your own employees may have made tweaks to your site code that are redundant or inefficient. If you settled for an amateur web designer to build your site on a budget, bad coding may have been plaguing your website from the start.
- Plugins – WordPress plugins are useful tools. They allow you to easily add features to your website with minimal time and effort. Unfortunately, plugins may not be optimized to reduce the space they take up. You may also have some plugins on your site that you don’t truly need.
How Can You Improve Your Site Speed?
Achieving faster load times may involve several steps, depending on which specific issues are affecting your site. Your site speed optimization project may include:
- Consider a Full Redesign – If long load times are just one of many problems with your website—or your website is several years old—it may be time for a full redesign. Does your website still represent the services and mission of your business? Is your site copy aimed at your target audience? A website redesign can address these issues and provide you with a fresh start to optimize your site performance from the ground up.
- Switch Your Hosting Plan – We mentioned the importance of quality site hosting for your site speed. If you are looking to make the switch to a new hosting plan, look for a web hosting company that not only offers cloud hosting but also guarantees uptime of 99.95% or higher. Group6 Interactive boasts 99.9% uptime. Your hosting provider should also provide regular backups, secure hosting, and around-the-clock customer support.
- Optimize Images and Minify Code – Switching to a new server can make a big difference to your website speed, but it may not be enough. You’ll need to review your site structure to ensure a strong performance. Code minification and image compression are two steps that will remove any unnecessary code and reduce file sizes to deliver a better browsing experience to your site visitors.
- Utilize Lazy Loading – Scrolling is required to view the entirety of a web page, and many visitors won’t scroll all the way to the bottom if they find the info they need sooner. Why bother loading any images or forms before a user scrolls down toward them? Lazy loading prevents all images on a page from loading at once, so the initial load time is faster.
For most businesses, improving website speed is not a DIY project. Instead, it should be handled with the expertise that an experienced web design team brings to the table.
Group6 Interactive can help you boost your site speed, so you see more traffic and more conversions. We can also provide a full range of digital marketing services to help you create a strong impression with your target audience everywhere they browse the web. Schedule a strategy call with us for a website speed evaluation and game plan for improving your site performance.