From websites to cars, faster is typically better. However, there are a few basic reasons faster is more than desirable; it’s actually vital to your website’s success.
According to KISSmetrics, because an unpleasant experience with your website is likely to be amplified by one user’s complaints to friends, family, coworkers, etc., not only are you losing potential traffic and conversions on your website due to a slow load time, you’re potentially losing a nice chunk of revenue.
To put the alternative into perspective, Amazon has noticed that for every 100-millisecond improvement to their site speed, they’re able to increase revenue by 1 percent. Wow.
Why Website Speed Matters
Website speed is probably one of the last things most companies think about when they want to generate more revenue. Content, traffic, SEO, and design are the most common buzzwords when creating a webpage; speed isn’t generally discussed until after the site has already been built.
Eventually, companies start to notice that their website or a page on their website is taking a significant time to load and begin to wonder why. What’s considered a long load time, you ask? Anything longer than a few seconds! It might seem harsh, but that’s the reality in today’s fast-paced, digital world.
Generally speaking, a loading website will lose a visitor’s interest within 3 seconds — and people are less likely to open the page in the future (especially after they’ve had that split-second experience elsewhere).
That’s why website speed is so important. If a potential customer doesn’t even see the page to begin with, the sale is already lost. You can’t buy what you can’t see.
With all this in mind, it’s fair to say that, quite simply, the faster the website, the better the overall user experience. Since Google also takes website speed and user experience into account when promoting sites, slower websites have the potential to rank lower even if their content is better.
It’s All About User Experience
As far as the bottom line is concerned, a strong website ranking doesn’t hold as much weight as you may have previously thought. And if that is your goal, there should be reasoning and strategy behind it.
While a high ranking may only have a minimal effect on revenue generation, a low ranking can serve as a revelation; if your website isn’t ranking well, Google has a good reason for it.
As I mentioned before, website speed alone can significantly affect a website’s overall ranking. If two companies in the same industry have websites of equal quality and one loads faster than the other, website speed will certainly give the faster company the competitive advantage.
An experiment conducted at an airport looked at the psychology of wait times. A baggage claim was located close to where the passengers exited, but there was a wait for the baggage to catch up with the passengers.
This led to several complaints. The airport’s solution was to move the baggage claim away from the passengers’ exit. Having to walk to the baggage claim took time and thereby reduced the perceived waiting time.
The number of complaints fell significantly. Website speed works in a similar way. It’s all about the user’s perception. A slow website can create negative perceptions of your brand and impact overall customer satisfaction. A website that loads quickly will improve your image and create a positive user experience.
Forming Good Habits for Website Speed
There are many ways to increase the speed of your website. The online tools that analyze speed often provide advice on how to improve it as part of the test feedback.
Hostgator.com, a green web-hosting company, recommends improving website speed by taking the time to optimize files, scripts, plugins, and other elements that affect load times, as too many plugins and ads can slow down a website.
In addition, compressing files and pictures and using text more often than icons can also speed up downloads. It’s also important to note, however, there should be a good balance between text and images. While too many images can slow down a website, a text-heavy page is unlikely to hold a visitor’s attention.
Speaking of good habits for your website speed, be sure to take mobile devices into account as well. More people are using cell phones, tablets, and other mobile tools to access sites and make purchases. Having a slow mobile site can do even more damage to the bottom line than a slow desktop site. This trend is likely to expand in the future so having efficient mobile designs in place will become ever more critical.
Choose Your Priorities
Keep in mind that some pages matter more than others.
Speeding up your homepage alone may have a positive effect on revenue. Factoring speed into an overall strategy to increase revenue will pay off over time in a measurable way.
Starting with your website’s home, ensure a good web host is part of the speed equation. After all, speed is determined in part by the amount of time it takes a page to arrive at the user’s computer from the server where it’s housed.
Your overall website priorities should begin with the user. Check your analytics to see how pages are performing. You can assume that your website speed is interfering with user interaction, but let the data speak for itself before you take any serious, potentially unnecessary actions.
There are so many factors to consider when it comes to designing and maintaining your website, from content to SEO to user experience. Your website’s speed cannot afford to be overlooked, as consumers are faced with an abundance of resources at their fingertips. Users that come across a site that is slow to load will likely go back to the search results and select another link; why be patient when there are dozens of other results waiting for you?
Lastly, optimizing your site for a mobile device is essential as this method of search continues to grow. By incorporating an online tool and other tips previously discussed, the revenue you’ve been missing may be just around the corner.