Why Page Speed Matters

Page Speed and User Experience

web page speed

User experience (UX) can be the difference between a good website and a great one. Good design practices and content are certainly important, but a website’s value will be greatly diminished if it provides a poor user UX.

A website that takes a long time to load will cause visitors to become frustrated and move on to another site. Studies have shown that many users will abandon your site if it doesn’t load within a few seconds.

Page speed is an important UX component because fast-loading pages have a positive effect on conversion rates and general customer satisfaction.

The Growing Popularity of Mobile Devices Ups the Ante

Mobile devices are increasingly used to access web content and most have slower connection speeds than their desktop counterparts. It follows that page speed is a very important factor in the mobile UX.

Google research shows it takes 15 seconds to fully load an average mobile landing page, yet 53% of mobile site visitors will leave a page that takes more than three seconds to load.

Want to see how well your site performs on mobile devices? Google’s Test My Site tool measures your page speed over a standard 3G connection and estimates visitor loss due to loading time.

Page Speed and SEO

A fast website not only makes a good impression on site visitors, it can also boost your search engine ranking and direct more traffic to your site. Google began factoring speed into its ranking algorithm back in 2010, and penalizes configuration problems that affect mobile performance.

How Can Page Speed Be Measured?

There are a number of page speed measurement tools available. Popular ones include:

Each of these tools quantify page speed and provide recommendations on how speed might be improved.

What Can Be Done to Boost Page Speed?

Use Optimization Techniques

There are a number of optimization techniques available to web developers that can speed up websites, including:

  • efficient coding
  • image optimization
  • HTTP request minimization
  • cache optimization
  • content delivery network (CDN) hosting
  • HTML, CSS and JavaScript minification
  • visible content prioritization
  • gzip compression

The more technically inclined reader can learn more about these techniques by referring to the documentation at PageSpeed Insights Rules and GTmetrix Recommendations.

Avoid Bloated Page Content

Non-text content contributes greatly to page weight and has a decidedly negative effect on page speed. The worst offenders include:

  • Images, especially big ones. Giant images are perhaps the largest contributor to page weight. Even images that have been optimized for use on the web can have large file sizes that take a long time to load.
  • Slideshows and carousels. These typically combine large images with JavaScript. So you are not only loading multiple large images, but you are also loading JavaScript to animate the display.
  • Excessive web fonts. Web fonts refer to fonts that are downloaded while rendering web pages. Web fonts have been mainstream for several years now and have transformed the world of web design. Although it’s tempting to use multiple typefaces on your website, keep in mind they require downloading more files, and that affects performance.
  • Social widgets. You may find it hard to believe that those little social icons can drag down page speed, but calling out to all of those external domains adds up. Try to stick to a few social media icons and use only the ones that are most relevant to your users.

The question you really must ask yourself about any page content is this: Does this really contribute to my web page or is it purely decorative?

Conclusion

Page speed matters more now than ever before. A fast website makes a good impression on site visitors, builds confidence in your site, yields more new and returning visitors, and may even boost your search engine results ranking.