Patience is a virtue. At least that is what I’ve been told numerous times. That quote is probably a true statement in most situations, but online no one has patience to wait for a website to load. If your site is too slow people will be leaving and going to visit your competition. Online you want to give a visitor every reason to stay and very few if any reason to leave. Page speed is both a search engine optimization factor and a user experience factor that can help determine your success with driving online conversions.
I mainly utilize GTMetrix.com as a benchmarking tool. Another tool that some developers use is pingdom.com. Both of these tools can help you get an idea of your website loading speed. The reason I like GTMetrix is that it gives you actionable steps on how to improve areas that your site could improve upon. Another feature is that it gives you a grade and it gives you an actual load time in seconds. The grading is a nice feature, but I’m laser focused on the time that it takes to fully load. In the website design world the general rule of thumb is your website should be fully loaded in about 2 seconds. That is a guideline so if your site takes 2.5 seconds I wouldn’t sweat it too much, but if it is taking five seconds or longer you are going to want to make some adjustments.
It is also a fallacy that you can’t get a modern technically advanced site to load fast. As an example this site has an average load time of about one second. My buddies in Boston would say “that is wicked fast”. I utilize a wide variety of different website design techniques to improve the page load speed. Almost all of my sites load in 2.5 seconds or less which provides both a great user experience but also helps with search engine optimization because Google loves fast loading sites.
Below are most important factors I’ve found in improving page load speed.
- Optimizing & compressing your images
- Utilizing the picture HTML element so you can serve different size images based upon the screen size.
- Utilizing SVG images when possible
- Use CDN like Cloudflare if possible.
- Personally I’ve found Wordpress and Bootstrap struggle to load quickly because of the code bloat in the code so I would highly suggest a custom coded site that either uses another CMS or doesn’t use a CMS at all.
- Enabling GZIP compression for your files.