Website Speed

An Anatomy on Website Speed and how to Increase it

We all know how much speed is good for websites. But what exactly do you know about website speeds? For example – what should be the optimal speed under which a website should perform?

A good web design includes fast site load speed. The term website speed actually refers to the measurement of how fast the content of a web page gets loaded. This measurement is done on the basis of time – the time that it takes for a web page content to be fully displayed. So what should be the average speed of a website?

Answers Vary

A research published by Google-owned Doubleclick shows –

  • Sites having an average load speed of five seconds are observed to witness 35 percent lower bounce rates, 70 percent longer average sessions and 25 percent higher ad viewability when compared to websites taking 19 seconds to fully load.
  • In a case of 53 percent mobile sites, the visitors abandoned the pages because it took more than 3 seconds to load.
  • The average loading time for most mobile websites is 19 seconds. This is especially over 3G connections.

A website’s performance and ranking hence will matter in seconds!

Jakob Nielson explains the reason in his article written on the response time limits. In his article, Nielson breaks down the interconnection that develops between a web page and a visitor and how website speed motivates the visitor to continue reading. According to him,

  1. 01 second is the average time limit for the user to feel the spontaneous reaction of the system. That is the time within which the web page needs to be displayed. In another Nielson Norman article, people are said to make rough decisions about the visual appeal of a web page if they are exposed to it for a maximum time period of 50 ms. That’s exactly 1/20 of a second. 0.1 second is also the response time limit when users are made to feel that their actions will directly cause something to happen on the screen. This can also be called an instantaneous action.
  2. 1.0 seconds is the time for uninterrupted flow of thought. This is necessary even when the user will notice the delay after a while. Delays of more than 0.1 seconds but less than 1.0 seconds require no special feedback. It is during this one-second interval that users need to stay focused on their current trail of thought. However, if the time duration of the delay continues then the user will eventually lose the feeling of directly operating on the data.
  3. 10 seconds is the maximum time limit when the user’s attention need to be kept focused on the dialogue. When the time limit exceeds one second, users grow impatient. The user attention eventually gets maxed out. A delay that exceeds more than 10 seconds will cause the user attention to deviate and the visitor to focus on other tasks while they wait for the page to load. The 10 seconds is the total time during which the user examines the page before they decide whether to stay or leave.
  4. 1 minute is the average time in which the user tries to complete the work. Webs pages that have internet videos, the visit will last for about one to two minutes and not more than that.

That’s because people don’t like passively waiting for something so long when they are in an active state of mind, often induced from surfing the web.

Elements Hindering Website’s Speed and How to Remove Them

While website speed is important for visitors to come and an e-commerce to perform there are certainly important elements that can eventually affect it. Most of these could be –

  • File Size and Type

The bigger the size of your files, the longer will it take for the website to load. In that case, such files need to be optimized. For example – converting the image file to a .jpeg extension.

If you have Adobe Photoshop installed on your computer then you can optimize the image file by simply going to File > Save for Web. Then simply reduce the file size to 70 percent. You will nearly reduce the file size without even noticing the difference in quality.

  • Application and Software Compatibility

A website speed and performance can often be affected because of the ability of a web browser to read applications and plug-ins. For example – Flash is a heavy browser based application affecting the website loading time. While some browsers won’t be able to directly display Flash unless users install the application, a slow internet connection will show a slow loading screen.

Apart from Flash, there are other applications and plug-ins that can hinder your website speed. That does not mean these are bad. It is another such consideration that you can acknowledge when you are building an e-commerce website.

  • Browser Compatibility

Browsers are important for translating programming codes and interpreting data sent by servers. Web developers, therefore, need to optimize websites to ensure that they properly function. Another way to control how your website performs is checking how browsers read your website content.

You can leverage browser caching for your website. The browser cache finds a lot of information to store. This can be stylesheets, JavaScript files, images, etc. The function of the browser cache is that it does not allow the website to reload any information when a visitor revisits. You can leverage this browser caching system by deciding how long you want the information to remain stored.

In many cases, the time period could extend up to one year. That is if a website design is frequent to change. For more information on Browser Caching, read here.

  • Server Response

Servers play an important role when it comes to website performance. A web server needs to be up for at least 99.5 percent of the time.

That’s because when someone types down the URL or accesses a website, the browser will directly send the request to the website server. In return, the server will deliver back the requested page through the browser. If the server takes the time to respond to request then the website too will take the time to load.

In most cases, a server response time is affected by the resources available on each page, the amount of traffic that a website receives, the type of software that the server users and the hosting solution that is used by the website owner.

An optimal server response time is under 200 ms. You can improve a server’s response time by focusing on the bottleneck performance such as slow routing, slow database queries, lack of adequate memory, etc.

You can also improve your server response time by choosing a content delivery network. This is a network of servers that distributes the load of delivering content. In the case of CDNs, a copy of your website pages is made and stored at multiple data centers. These data centers are located across diverse geographical locations so that can enjoy faster and reliable access to websites.

Some Other Ways to Leverage Your Website Speed

  • Minify Your Code

This will help you to drastically improve your website speed. Apart from CSS, JavaScript, and HTML, minifying your codes also include removing commas, spaces, formatting, code comments and other unnecessary characters.

  • Reduce Redirects

This will also help to drastically improve website response speed. That is because, every time a web page is redirected to another page, visitors have to wait until the HTTP response cycle is complete. It becomes time-consuming and ultimately causing the page to load slower.

You can also make your landing page redirects cacheable. This will speed up the page load time and will only cause mobile users to be redirected. Use a 302 redirect with a one day cache lifetime. This will include a Cache-Control: private and a Vary: User – Agent.

  • Specify the Character Set

By specifying the character set in HTTP headers, you can speed up the browser rendering speed. The process is simple and one can do it by simply adding a piece of code in the header. That is –

Character Set

Source

  • Avoid Bad Links

Broken links can result in 404/410 errors. This results in wasteful requests. Try fixing the broken URLs. You can check your links using free checking tools like for example, WorkPress Link Checker.

Conclusion

Hence, the success of a website depends on in seconds.

Speed is an important factor when it comes to defining a website as a good website.

Besides, a good website speed can also differentiate your business rank online and the number of successful conversions a website can make. At the same time, good speed can also guarantee customer retention and customer growth for a business. Does your website have good speed?

Image Courtesy: Pixabay.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *