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How to Optimise for Website Speed

The Ultimate Website Optimisation Guide

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Improving your website speed can be a fundamental factor for increasing conversion rates, improving customer satisfaction, and ensuring your website is easy to navigate. Even a small decrease in website speed has the potential to cost a sale. 

Your website is the first impression many customers will have of your business, and taking steps to optimise your website speed can be influential in determining your store’s bounce rates, search engine rankings and conversion rates. 

 

 

What Does Website Speed Affect? 


Website speed has the potential to affect key aspects of your online store including conversion rates, website visibility and user experience, all of which can directly impact the success of your ecommerce business.

Conversion Rates
Research has shown that website speed can have a compounding effect on conversion rates, with as little as a one second delay leading to;

  • 11% fewer page views

  • 16% decrease in customer satisfaction

  • 7% loss in conversions

47% of customers expect webpages to have a loading speed of under 2 seconds. If your website is not able to achieve this, your potential conversions can be significantly impacted. 

Visibility
With the introduction of Google’s mobile first indexing, website page speed now impacts search engine result rankings. Website speed is even more crucial for customers shopping on smartphones, and with the rise of mobile devices for online shopping, your ecommerce store could lose out on potential customers if your page load speeds are not fast enough.

User Experience
Website speed is also crucial to the customer experience on your website. Slow page loading speeds can create a poor user experience, which can impact customer loyalty and reduce your customer base.

Optimising your website’s page load times can be easily achieved with some minor technical adjustments.  ‘Lazy loading’ is a popular technique of increasing website load speeds. This method loads webpage content in stages, prioritising content that appears near the top of the page. This allows your visitors to see your website much sooner as they do not have to wait for all of your on-page media to finish rendering. 

Making small changes to your website speed such as this can lead to large improvements in user experience, conversion rates and ultimately, your revenue. 

 

 

How is Website Speed Tracked For Improvement?

Monitoring your site’s speed over time is a useful way of evaluating your ecommerce store’s performance. Tracking website speed can also allow you to catch any issues and rectify them before they can negatively impact your conversion rates, search engine rankings or user experience.

Some popular tools for creating website speed reports include; Google Pagespeed Insights, GTmetrix, Pingdom, and WebPageTest

Website speed reports typically include information on;

  • Page load times

  • Execution speed - how quickly images load and your user engagement response time

  • Comparison against other tested websites

  • Performance over time

 

 

Best Practices To Improve Website Speed And Performance

There are many different methods you can use to optimise your website page speed. Here are our top ten best practises;

  1. Minimize HTTP requests

    HTTP requests are how browsers ask to view your website’s pages. Each request is made for each of your on-page elements. The easiest way to reduce the number of HTTP requests is to not use any images, reduce image sizes, remove scripts and CSS. However, this can impact the aesthetics of your website. Alternatively, you can reduce or combine your HTML, CSS and JavaScript files to reduce the number of HTTP requests. 

  2. Use external JavaScript and CSS files

    It is best practice to place your JavaScript and CSS files in external files, as opposed to the code being inline. When your browser loads a webpage it will cache the external CSS and JS files, as opposed to having to load them as it processes the HTML file. Having external files, as opposed to inline code will decrease rendering time and improve user experience.

  3. Using caching systems

    Caching eases the strain on the server whenever a request for your site’s page is sent. This allows the server to be able to handle more traffic, improving your website’s speed.

  4. Reduce image sizes

    Image files can often be very large so it can take a while for them to load, slowing down your page load speed. By compressing image files into formats such as JPG you can significantly reduce the amount of time your images take to load without reducing the quality. 

  5. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

    Website speed can be impacted by how far away a user is from your server. A CDN works by caching your website on a global server network. The CDN will route the users request to their nearest server, reducing their page load times regardless of how far away they are from your main server. 

  6. Use a dedicated server

    Dedicated servers give you full control over your server’s resources, unlike with shared hosting and VPS servers which require you to share space and resources with other websites. Having full control over your server means that your website speed will not be affected by spikes in website traffic on other websites that share your server. 

  7. Minimize redirects

    Redirects can cause your pages to load slower as they create more HTTP requests. By avoiding redirects altogether, your website will be able to display content to the user much faster.

  8. Enable compression

    Compressing your website files to make them as small as they can be will reduce the HTTP requests and decrease server response time, allowing your website to load faster for the user.

  9. Minify JavaScript and CSS files

    Minifying files involves removing white or unnecessary space from your code. Doing this will make the file smaller and therefore allow the code, and your webpage, to load faster. 

  10. Reduce the number of Plugins

    Plugins require a lot of resources to run which can slow down your page’s load speed. Deleting unused or old plugins, particularly those that load their own JavaScript or CSS files, can dramatically reduce page load times as fewer files need to be downloaded for the page to finish rendering.

 

Conclusion

Website load speeds are becoming increasingly crucial to the success of online stores, affecting search engine rankings, bounce rates and conversion rates. Taking steps to optimise your website speed can improve the performance of your ecommerce store, allowing you to reach more customers and offer a refined user experience that could lead to increased sales and revenue, allowing you to successfully grow your online business.

More information

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