The first few seconds spent on the website will affect how users are going to interact with your website and brand in the future. So, when a page takes too long to load, it will negatively affect your customers’ impression of the website. In fact, nearly 70% of consumers have admitted that page speed impacts their willingness to buy from an online retailer.
But in order to understand how to improve page speed, you need to know what page speed is and what influences it. And in this article, we’re going to explore the importance of page speed and how to update the web design to improve page speed.
Let’s get started!
What is Page Speed, and why is it important?
Page speed shows how fast the page’s content loads when a user visits the website. But note that it’s different from website speed. Page speed refers only to the loading time of a specific page, while website speed refers to the loading speed of the entire website.
And why is it important? Well, let’s start with the user experience. Page speed can greatly impact the quality of the user experience of your website. Every second of delay can have a very big impact. One-second delay decreases the conversion rate by 16%!
Imagine you’re a user trying to buy from an online store. You’re visiting a web page for the first time, and the page speed is very slow. You’d be frustrated, right? And most probably, you will leave the page and never return to it. Imagine how many potential customers you’re losing just because of a one-second delay!
Besides that, there is the SEO factor. Google announced long ago that page loading speed is a ranking factor. It may not seem as important as, for example, the link-building strategy or keyword targeting, but it can hugely damage your rankings.
Moreover, slow page speed means that search engines can’t crawl more pages, which can affect the indexation of your website pages.
So, remember that however great your website content or design is, users won’t stay on your website if the page speed is too slow.
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How Web Design Affects Page Loading Speed
There are many ways how the website design (and development) can affect page speed. Here are some of the most important ones:
- The number of images, videos, and other media files on the page
- Themes and plugins
- Coding and scripts
How to Improve Page Loading Speed
Now let’s get to the more practical part of our article – how you can scale web design to improve the page loading speed. Well, for a start, you need to know how to measure page speed.
Measure Page Loading Speed
There are a lot of apps and tools that can help you measure the page loading speed. One of the main and free tools you can use is Google Page Speed Insights. You simply need to add the page’s URL there, and you will get insights about page speed for both desktop and mobile versions.
It shows the page’s speed performance based on different metrics and, in the end, provides the overall score for page speed. A page with a fast loading speed will have a score of more than 90.
Another great tool to check your website page speed is GTmetrix. GTmetrix provides a more detailed look at your page’s speed and can test the speed from a different location in the world. This tool has both free and paid versions. Depending on your needs, you can choose from the variety of options they offer.
There are also other tools that can help you analyze page speed. But with these two(or even only one), you can see what’s wrong with a certain page’s speed and take action to improve it.
Now, let’s see what you can do to improve the page loading speed.
Larger files take more time to download and display on the end users’ screens. Thus they are one of the main reasons for a long page load time. And one of the largest files that take up a lot of space on the website is images. The first thing you can do is optimize the image size.
Use PNG format for icons, logos, illustrations, signs, and text images. Try using GIFs as little as possible, and avoid using BMPs or TIFFs. For other images, use JPGs or WEBPs. Do not add unnecessary large images to the page; upload only the necessary ones.
Another thing to do is compress the images. If your web page is full of images and you can’t delete or change them, consider compressing them and reducing their size. Compression of 60-70% of JPGs can reduce the size without damaging the quality.
Also, there are a lot of plugins for image optimization. These plugins can automatically resize and compress images without affecting the quality.
Minimize the Number of Animations, 3D Elements, or Other Large-Sized Multimedia
The previous point is also true about animations or other heavy design elements. Of course, unique web design is important for showing the brand’s uniqueness or having a modern-designed webpage, but using too many heavy design elements can lower the speed of the page.
So, when redesigning your website, consider the page speed as well. Don’t add unnecessary elements that can affect the page speed. It’s good to appear as a creative and unique brand, but if that will affect your page speed, it’s better to use a simpler design, especially when minimalism is trendy today.
Host Videos on Video Platforms
Videos can also take up a lot of space on the page. They are quite heavy files, so only add a few videos to a single page. But there’s also another solution to this. Instead of adding the video file directly to the page, you can post the video on YouTube, Vimeo, or any other platform and then simply embed the link.
This way, you will not only be able to add long videos but also save a lot of space on the page and make it load faster.
Cache the Pages
Browser caching means storing copies of your web page’s files on the user’s device so that servers can more easily generate and browse the web page’s content the next time users visit it. So the server will have less work for loading the page, and thus it will be faster for the users.
There are several ways to cache web pages. One of them is to do it at the server level, which means the hosting provider does it for you. So, check your hosting plan; if they don’t provide caching, you need to do it by alternative methods.
Another way to cache the pages is by using caching plugins. The last option is especially useful for WordPress website owners, as there are tons of WordPress plugins that can cache the pages.
Some of these plugins are:
Redirects can greatly increase the loading time of a page. Every time a web page redirects to another one, it makes the HTTP request and response process longer. Of course, redirects are important when you’re changing the domain and moving to other pages, but there may be a lot of unnecessary redirects on your page that you haven’t noticed.
So analyze the page and check if there are any redirects you haven’t created and which are not necessary. You can do this by using tools like Screaming Frog or Redirect Mapper. They can identify whether your page has any redirects and how many.
When you notice some incorrect redirects, you can delete them in the .htaccess file.
Use Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A CDN-content delivery network or content distribution network is a network of servers that can store the cached version of your website. So, whenever a user from the other part of the world tries to open a webpage, they will see the cached version of the page with copies of the page’s static content.
CDN can immensely maximize the page’s performance by reducing the distance data needs to travel to deliver your page to the user.
CDN works with the host, so the best way to implement CDN in your website is to choose a hosting that provides it along with their hosting
Choose the Right Hosting
As you can see from the previous point, hosting plays an important role in good website performance and fast page loading speed. So upgrading your hosting services can greatly improve your page speed.
There are several types of hosting you can choose from. There is no right or wrong option; it all depends on the amount of website traffic and your specific needs. Here are the hosting options:
Free hosting: This is for starters who don’t have resources to spend on hosting and don’t have much traffic. It’s not a good option for businesses and brands, but it can be good for bloggers or individuals.
Shared hosting: Shared hosting is already an upgrade from the previous one. It’s good for businesses and individuals developing an online business at a low cost. As the name suggests, with shared hosting, you get to share CPU, disk space, and RAM with other sites on the same server. Shared hosting can’t keep up with traffic spikes and high-volume traffic.
VPS hosting: VPS hosting offers a shared server without sharing some portions of server resources. This is the best “golden middle” of all the hosting options. It costs more than shared hosting but can manage to host websites with higher traffic and provide better website performance.
Dedicated hosting: With dedicated hosting, you won’t share anything with any other website; it’s all individual. You control everything on your hosting. But along with that, you need to do more configuration and technical work. This option is perfect for big-size companies with huge website traffic, who have in-house IT teams and can spend resources to maintain their individual hosting.
If you’ve tried everything mentioned above, and you still see no difference in the speed of the page, maybe it’s time for you to upgrade your hosting. Businesses grow and become larger. At the start of your business, shared hosting was probably enough, but now it can’t cope with a higher traffic volume.
Note that this affects not only a single web page speed but the whole performance of your website.
Get Rid of Unnecessary Plugins or Libraries
When was the last time you checked your plugins? If it was long ago, they might be the reason for the slow page loading speed.
First, you need to check how many plugins you have. Aren’t they too much? Maybe some of them have overlapping features, and you can easily eliminate them without affecting the functionality of your website. As your business and website grow, you might need to add more and more plugins, but eventually, too many plugins can affect page speed. Besides, too many plugins make the website maintenance process longer and harder.
So, review your plugins and libraries and delete the ones you don’t use. Also, check if they all are updated, as outdated plugins can be a security threat and may not be compatible with your website.
Finally, there are some plugins that can immensely slow your website down, while some affect the page speed very little. You can check this by deactivating all your plugins and then activating them one by one. After activating each one, use Page Speed Insights to determine which plugin affects the speed most. If some increase the page speed, consider looking for an alternative plugin instead.
Minify the Code
At the time of creation, these comments or characters were needed so that programmers could more easily understand the code. But as the page speed needs improvements, it’s better to delete them. And if you delete them, you won’t damage the quality of the code.
This is also a good chance to review your code and optimize its structure so as to minimize the amount of data that needs to be transferred. As a result, you will have cleaner code and faster-working pages.
Enable Lazy Loading
Lazy loading is a technique that enables you to defer images, videos, and other content of your website until they are needed or until users scroll to reach that content. This is especially useful when the web page has a lot of heavy images or videos that can slow down the page speed.
You may load stuff that many users won’t even see, so it’s better to make the page load faster so that users are satisfied with your website’s performance.
Lazy loading helps load the web page’s content faster and reduces initial page weight and system resource usage, which can positively impact page speed and overall website performance.
Page loading speed seems to be an insignificant part of website maintenance and optimization. Yet, it can have a big impact on the performance of the website and SEO results. Fast-loading pages provide a better user experience and can improve customer satisfaction and conversion rates.
Remember to analyze the web page first to understand what’s causing the page to load so long. Identifying the right cause can be half of the solution.
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What is page loading speed?
Page speed shows how fast the page’s content loads when a user visits the website. There are many factors influencing page speed, which include a site’s server, page filesize, and image compression.
What is considered a good page load time?
The ideal page load time is 0-2 seconds. It has the highest e-commerce conversion rates. But, in general, a page should load in less than 4 seconds, so as not to have high bounce rates.