When It Comes to Website Conversion, Focus on Page Speed First
All website design should be focused on conversions, and there’s nothing that affects the user experience more than page speed. Here’s how to speed yours.
Do you want more conversions from your website?
Of course, you do!
As much as website design can help you turn browsers into buyers, there’s actually another factor that has the HUGE impact on your conversions. And you’ll never guess what it is.
Yes, speed. How quickly your site loads has been proven to be a significant factor when someone is deciding whether or not to purchase. In fact, Amazon found that even a 1-second difference in page load speed could cost them $1.6 billion every year.
But don’t despair. If your website design isn’t quite getting you these sorts of results, there are plenty of website design tricks you can do to speed things along a bit and improve conversions.
Here are our top 5 tips for juicing sluggish websites!
1. Refine your website design
The first and the best thing you can do to speed up your site is to refine and simplify your website design.
Every time a new element is used, it’s another thing that your site needs to load. Every image, style sheet, font family, and script all need to be ‘fetched’ from your server where they’re stored.
Naturally, the more HTTP requests that each user needs to make to load your site, the longer it takes.
To make your site load faster, you need to simplify your elements. The fewer elements you have, the faster the site will load.
Plus, you don’t have to compromise on website design to do this. It’s a more a matter of designing smart.
For example, you might make sure all your fonts come from the same family, so they can all be brought over as one HTTP request. It might seem small, but small changes like this add up to major speed gains.
2. Compress your web pages
The smaller something is, the faster it can be downloaded and rendered onto your users’ screens.
That much is obvious.
Fortunately, you can shrink your website without changing a single thing. It’s called compression. Zipping up a website to compress it works in much the same way that you would zip up a folder to compress images to send to someone via email. The only difference is that it happens automatically and every single time your website is loaded.
Using a tool called Gzip (which is supported by, well, pretty much everyone) you can quickly and easily zip files when they leave your server and unzip them when they get to your end user – uploading and downloading much faster than they would otherwise.
3. Cache, cache, and cache some more
Caching is an absolutely critical step to getting your website to load quickly and effectively.
If you’re like most small businesses, you use a shared hosting system. You store your website in a particular physical data center with a physical address and location. Which means that customers who are close to that data center will have their websites load really fast. The information doesn’t have to travel very far.
Which means that customers who are close to that data center will have their websites load really fast. The information doesn’t have to travel very far.
But for those customers who are across the country or even across the world, it can take a lot longer.
That’s where caching comes in. First, for frequent visitors, it stores a small, light version of your site on their machine. You don’t have to load everything again every time they visit.
Second, by using a content distribution network (or CDN) you can store popular parts of your website in servers and on computers all over the world. Even if your dynamic content is stored in your local data center, lots of elements will load quickly because they’re stored close to the people who are accessing them.
With caching, you can create a positive site experience for customers, no matter where they are in the world.
4. Crop your images
It’s tempting, particularly with WYSIWYG website editors to simply reposition your images. But it’s much better to crop your images to exactly the specs that they need to be.
Because if you don’t crop your images, but just leave the excess out of sight, your website browsers still need to load the FULL image, regardless of how much they’re actually seeing.
But when you crop an image, you remove a lot of image information, making them smaller to send from your server to your users and thus reducing their weight.
And the lighter your site… the faster it loads.
5. Host your own stuff
Obviously, you host your own website. But when you’re developing your site, you probably do things like embed videos and images and use plugins.
These elements are NOT stored on your own server. They’re stored on other servers. A YouTube video, for example, won’t be stored on your web server. Rather, it will be stored on YouTube’s servers.
Suddenly, in order to load the page, your website needs to make two trips instead of just one, reducing in a slower load time.
If you want to use enriched media or plugins, consider hosting them on your own server. Alternatively, try and find tools that you CAN store locally. For example, there are plenty of local solutions to social media links – you don’t need a Facebook plugin (even if it makes life easier).
There you have it. 5 quick and easy ways you can speed up your site, without sacrificing user experience. And there’s nothing like a grateful user to pry open wallets.
Think your site could be doing more? We’re here to help. See how we can turn your site into a marketing powerhouse. Get a quote today!