Website speed is an important factor that determines if people stay on a website long enough to absorb the content. A site can have very informative content but still fail to hold people’s attention if the web pages load too slowly. Huge graphics, Flash and JavaScript are some of the culprits that can slow a site down. Testing the speed of each web page is crucial to developing a loyal online following.

According to this study by Akamai.com in which they gathered feedback from over 1,000 online shoppers

  • Findings indicate 47 percent of consumers expect an ecommerce page to load in two seconds or less; site performance is a key factor in a consumer’s loyalty to an eCommerce site
  • Consumers become impatient when pages take longer than two seconds to load. 47 percent of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less, representing a significant evolution in consumer expectation over the 2006 study, which showed customer expectations at four seconds or less. Forrester found that 40 percent of consumers will wait no more than three seconds for a web page to render before abandoning the site.
  • Online shopper loyalty is contingent upon quick page loading, especially for high-spending shoppers. 52 percent of online shoppers stated that quick page loading is important to their site loyalty, up 12 percent from the 2006 study.
  • Shoppers often become distracted when made to wait for a page to load. 14 percent will begin shopping at another site, and 23 percent will stop shopping or walk away from their computer.
  • Retail and travel sites that underperform lead to lost sales. 79 percent of online shoppers who experience a dissatisfying visit are less likely to buy from that site again, up 17 percent from the 2006 study. 64 percent would simply purchase from another online store, up 16 percent from the 2006 study.
  • Mobile is an emerging shopping channel, and performance is a key to consumer adoption. While only 16 percent of consumers have shopped via mobile or smart-phones, consumers are interested in using these devices for research and shopping activities in the future. One third of consumers report wanting to shop via their smart-phones in the future.

There are several websites which assist users in testing page speed.  Some of the tools we use and have found to be effective are

pingdom

Yahoo YSlow

Google Pagespeed Insights

Page Scoring

Web Page Test

Some of the most common issues we see when performing page speed is tests are

  • Loading too many Java Script files
  • Loading too many Style Sheets
  • Incorrectly configured server environments
  • Scaling images instead of sizing them correctly
  • Not making use of Content Delivery networks

These are all solvable problems and taking the time to make sure your website is configured correctly can have a large impact on usability.  Using CSS techniques such as colored backgrounds instead of graphics, compressing style sheets and java Script files and combining those files to reduce the number of HTTP requests the broswer makes to the server can all help accelerate page loading speeds.

Reducing the number of images and their sizes on a page can also be helpful for accelerating performance. Consider that web pages don’t really need to be bombarded with images unless that’s the theme of the website. But even a photography website can benefit by limiting the number of images per page. Instead of creating a page with 40 images, consider creating 10 pages that each have 4 images.

Keep in mind that most websites, whether designed for desktop or mobile devices, will usually load in 20 seconds or less. But the maximum wait time most users will tolerate before moving on to another website is about 10 seconds. As mobile internet becomes more popular, web owners need to consider Responsive Web Design, which allows mobile devices to read web pages faster, since mobile uses less bandwidth.

Minimizing HTTP Requests is the best place to start

This is probably the easiest step in the process.  The way you minimize HTTP requests is by reducing the number of files which load into the browser when you open the web page.  This can include images, Java Script files and style sheets.  You can reduce the number images by selecting which images are most important for the page and removing the ones which don’t add value to the user.  You can also combine images like social media icons into sprites which can turn many images into a single image using some creative CSS to display the correct part of the image in each section of your page.  Here are some additional resources with information on how you can reduce the number of images on your site.

SpriteMe

Combine images using CSS sprites

The next step in minimizing HTTP requests should be combining all of the CSS style sheets into one.  This will reduce the number of times the browser has to request the style sheet from the server.  This tool can be very helpful not only in combining multiple style sheets or JavaScript files into one but also in minifying the resulting file.  Minifying the file is the process of removing all whitespace between the characters in order to reduce the file size.

Shrinker

If you need to UN-minify your files this tool can also be helpful.

Unminify

For more information contact our page speed experts today