No one wants a poor and sluggish website design. After all, a slow website harms a company’s sales and reputation when the agony of waiting for slow web pages to load drives customers away. That’s why websites must be fast, focused, and well-optimized.
The speed can be achieved with proper optimization and in recent years website speed optimization has become a focal point of the complete website designing and development process. It plays a very vital role in the success of modern online businesses.
According to a recent Aberdeen Group research, A quick page load time increases visitor engagement, retention, and sales. Instant website response results in higher conversion rates and every 1 second delay in page load reduce customer satisfaction by 16%, page views by 11%, and conversion rates by 7%.
If your business also suffers from slow-loading web pages then don’t worry, we are providing here an in-depth website speed optimization guide to demonstrate the importance of having a fast-loading website!
In this guide, we’ll try to explain the technical details while also providing you with simple instructions that you can start implementing right away! We hope you find it useful and worthy of sharing! So let’s begin.
First, Understand What is Website Speed Optimization
What Exactly is Page Speed?
Page speed refers to the time it takes for web pages or media content to be downloaded from a website hosting server and displayed on the requesting web browser. Page load time is the time it takes between clicking a link and the requesting browser displaying the entire content of a web page.
To understand page speed in the context of user experience and website performance, three key factors must be considered:
- The time it takes to deliver the requested material as well as the accompanying HTML content to the browser.
- Page load requests are handled by the browser.
- The final empirical measure of page load speed is the view of end-users as the requested web page renders on the browser.
Plugins, server-side scripts, and final tweaks for performance optimization have a minor – but noticeable – effect on page speed and load times.
Website performance also influences search engine rankings, which are determined by proprietary and undisclosed algorithms that take into account key factors such as page speed, user experience, website responsiveness, and a plethora of other website performance metrics.
Here are a few questions people usually ask in this matter:
What is a Slow-loading Page?
A webpage loading slower than the blink of an eye – 400 milliseconds will be considered a slow loading p[age. Google’s engineers have discovered that a barely visible page load time of 0.4 seconds is so long that users search less.
What Happens When We Don’t Optimize the Page Speed?
If the website takes more than 4 seconds to load, one in every four visitors will leave. Poorly performing websites are avoided by 46% of users. If the mobile site takes more than 5 seconds to load, 74% of users will abandon it. Every one-second delay in page load time could cost online retailers like Amazon $1.6 billion in annual losses.
And What Happens When We Speed Up Our Website’s Speed?
Engagement will increase so does sales and brand value. For example, Firefox downloads increased by 15.4 percent, or 10 million per year, when Mozilla increased page speed by 2.2 seconds! For every 1-second improvement in page load times, Walmart saw a 2% increase in conversion rates.
Understand the Neuroscience Behind Keeping the Page Speed Optimized
In today’s digital age, understanding the neuroscience behind page speed optimization is crucial for creating a successful online presence.
One hundred milliseconds; That is how long our brain’s Occipital lobe stores visual information as a Sensory memory.
According to Google researchers, page load times of less than 100 milliseconds give visitors the illusion of instantaneous website response because our brain’s visual Sensory memory processor works in bursts of 100 milliseconds. As photoreceptor cells in the eyes transmit more information to the Occipital lobe, the memory store clears itself after 0.1 seconds.
A one-second page load time suffices to maintain a continuous flow of thought – users feel in control of their Web browsing activities, and mental stress is not exacerbated unless the website fails to respond as desired.
With a delay of 10 seconds, the visitor’s attention is barely maintained. The feelings of impatience, frustration, and abandonment are usually strong enough to keep visitors from returning to such slow websites.
Impacts on Business Success
While service and product quality appear to have the greatest impact on business sales, in the cyber world, converting website visitors into purchasing customers is largely dependent on developing a positive customer impression.
This is where e-commerce website performance parameters like ultra-fast page speed and quick check-out processes come into play, giving customers a positive psychological impression that encourages sales and customer loyalty.
According to the study, 88 percent of internet users prefer online retailers who provide a high-performance and user-friendly website experience.
The power of page speed, translating into an appealing online shopping experience, inspires sales figures and ultimately determines online business success. The industry titan Google began incorporating page speed into its proprietary search algorithms after witnessing the compelling consequences of website performance lapses affecting sales.
Conversion rates, as the most important and powerful internet metric for online businesses, are entirely dependent on website KPIs in establishing competitive advantages for online retail platforms.
Traditional marketing campaigns alone will not increase conversion rates in the cyber world without improvements in website user experience, which includes page speed and responsiveness.
As a result, user experience in terms of website performance and responsiveness becomes the most important factor influencing conversion rates in online marketplaces. E-commerce is fundamentally about customer convenience and efficiently reaching potential customers with the right information, products, and services at the right time.
Neither of these is possible without page speeds that are faster than users abandoning visits due to website performance issues. Not sure how your website’s performance affects conversion rates? Google’s Test My Site tool can assist in answering that question.
Impact on User Engagement
Statistics on user engagement feed the cauldron of website analytics, which helps to develop the best strategies for optimizing online sales. Online businesses that have established themselves in the competitive cyberspace understand the value of website performance and tools that analyze and predict the next-best actions based on page speed and revenue.
Improved user engagement data with responsive and fast-loading websites is frequently viewed as a proxy for online business success. User engagement is highly dependent on human limitations in storing short-term memory beyond a few seconds, as well as human desires to feel in control of the machine at all times.
Impact on OpEx and Revenue
While investing in website performance optimization increases CapEx in exchange for reducing page load times by a few seconds, the return is inevitably seen in the form of rising revenues and decreasing operational costs and hardware investments.
By reducing page load times from 7 seconds to 2 seconds, e-commerce giant Shopzilla cut its operational budget by half. Performance enhancements from a website redesign enabled the company to use the same hardware resources to process the same number of website user requests more efficiently. The increased responsiveness of the website increased revenues by 12% as the retail store accommodated increasing web traffic without requiring additional investments in correspondingly expanding hardware resources.
Improvements in website KPIs also result in a higher Google AdWords Quality Score, lowering the cost per click (CPC). Online businesses with a high-quality score and page speed can spend their advertising budget more efficiently and effectively, increasing reach and attracting customers without incurring additional OpEx.
It Impacts Usability
Customer retention is highest on websites with the steepest learning curve. Internet users regard the time spent learning to use alternative websites as a significant switching cost, which serves as a mechanism to lock them into online services provided by high-performance websites.
The elements of the relationship between website usability and customer loyalty are linked to website KPIs such as page speed, load time, and responsiveness to user requests. A hypothetical model of website speed optimization takes these elements into account, with characteristics like Site Trust, Interactivity, and Information Relevance considered as a subset of end-user website usability.
Similarly, as part of search engine optimization, web crawlers, and search engines assess website performance in terms of page speed, navigability, user experience, responsiveness, and reachability to a global audience.
A mobile website that is optimized for speed outperforms a desktop website.
Mobile devices are increasingly supplanting traditional daily-use devices. Adoption is skyrocketing as the mobile device onslaught appears to be encompassing the entire human race – 2.32 billion smartphone subscriptions in 2017, accounting for roughly 30% of the global population. And the tidal wave of stimulating repercussions continues to disrupt online businesses that are just beginning to make inroads into the mobile internet marketing segment.
The ability to embrace a mobile-first approach in reaching the exploding population of mobile subscribers is critical to success in the cyber world. And, for organizations attempting to effectively reach the massive mobile population, unimaginable awards are just around the corner.
Desktop internet marketing, on the other hand, is a thing of the past. Google the terms “Post PC Era,” “PC sales decline,” and “death of desktop machines,” and you’ll find a plethora of journalistic fodder depicting a bleak future for organizations that still rely solely on desktop internet users.
It is not too late for such industry laggards to embrace a mobile-first strategy. However, when forward-thinking online businesses fail to optimize their reach to a mobile user base, this approach does not always pay off.
Customers appreciate websites that respond quickly and have extremely short page load times. Mobile technology and the innovation that comes with increased reliance on smartphones and tablets are not slowing down.
Top online retailers recognize the importance of efficiently delivering website content from Web servers to the limited real estate of mobile screens. Getting it right with well-designed mobile-specific websites allows customers to make quick and informed purchasing decisions, resulting in never-ending revenue streams for online businesses.
Common Business Mistakes That Kill Website Performance
Online marketplaces are high-stakes competitive platforms where only the most diligent survive. Human factors contribute to the outcome of online business competitions, but webmasters often overlook crucial web design elements that cripple site load times.
Speed optimization is an ongoing and evolving process, but some business decisions can negatively affect website performance by stealing size-able chunks from the bandwidth allotted to each visitor. Investing in the highest quality web hosting services is key to maintaining high-performance websites that attract visitor attention efficiently and accurately.
Keeping add-ons limited to a bare minimum is essential to maintaining optimum website performance, and the quality and functionality of the plugins installed matter more than the number itself.
An optimal website advertisement model can increase website revenue while minimizing the cost of latency and page load delays due to bloated design themes, incompatible multimedia, and intrusive pop-up ads.
E-commerce websites must contain fast-loading product images and videos to drive conversions and sales, while low-quality, lightweight graphics barely capture user attention. Websites not speed-optimized for mobile devices suffer from common issues such as faulty redirects, unplayable videos, bloated images and graphics, irrelevant cross-linking and unnecessary assets that degrade website performance and drive bounce rates.
Website performance overhaul with optimization tools and script tweaks can scrape off sizable chunks from page load times, but not as effectively as developing a speed-optimized website from scratch.
Website Speed Testing – Identify Problems
Web traffic and search engine ranking are important metrics for online business success, but there is more to convincing impatient citizens of the cyber world to purchase online products and services than passive business strategies.
Page speed, in particular, fills the void in enhancing marketability by improving website user experience to keep impatient online customers engaged and satisfied. O’Reilly’s research report found improvements in website end-user experience by reducing page load time and boosting sales and conversion rates significantly.
Google’s Head Performance Engineer Steve Souders advises on this matter, saying 80-90% of the end-user response time is spent on the front end. Speed optimization tactics are a relatively low-hanging fruit IF implemented in the right direction.
What to Test?
Understanding the behavior of the most impactful website speed performance indicators helps to accurately identify performance loopholes in websites. These indicators include initial page speed, full page load time, and geographic performance.
Initial page speed helps to keep visitors engaged even when the entire website content takes ages to render. Full page load time is an integral part of end-user website experience testing and helps to optimize hardware infrastructure to maximize website performance. Geographic performance helps to determine global website performance results impacting worldwide business reach.
Geographic website performance varies with fluctuations in web traffic, load tolerance, and web server CPU load. Stress tests, ramp tests, load tests, and other performance tests can help determine if a website needs hardware upgrades to handle peak load.
Database performance is critical for websites maintaining dynamic content, and a mechanism should be in place to detect and alert for inaccuracies. Monitoring server CPU load enables hosting companies and IT staff to keep a check on back-end hardware capabilities in handling unpredictable web traffic deluge.
How to Test?
Website owners can use a variety of free and paid website performance testing services to analyze web pages and generate tailored solutions to close the most severe performance gaps affecting page speed.
Pagespeed testing tools powered by Google, website monitoring specialists Pingdom, and GTMetrix provide free insights into website performance indicators and programmatically generate scores and recommendations to educate non-technical website owners. Check out these comprehensive guides to get you started.
How Do These Tools Work?
The tools calculate performance scores using a set of rules developed in the context of Web page performance and user priorities. The principles include resource caching, client-server round-trip times, data download and upload size, and a slew of other factors that influence the end-user website experience in terms of page speed.
Suggestions are generated in anticipation of improvements in page speed that should occur as a result of implementing appropriate performance optimization rules. For example, if a large image file is served uncompressed, monitoring tools will recommend that various measures be implemented to compress the large file.
Such problems would otherwise go unnoticed due to human error or simple ignorance, neither of which can be eliminated. Simultaneously, page speed monitoring tools would enable website owners to identify issues and take appropriate steps to eliminate hidden website performance bottlenecks.
Which Tool to Pick?
Different tools, such as Google’s Page Speed Insights, Pingdom, and GTMetrix, identify and test different performance parameters and indicators in various ways, from various browsers and geographic locations.
As a result, performance ratings and test results are bound to differ, and no single tool can identify every single performance bottleneck in website designs. To better track your progress, it is recommended that you stick with one tool as you make improvements.
Testing across multiple tools, analyzing various website design elements, and comparing multiple test results, on the other hand, provides reasonable insights for online business owners to devise speed optimization strategies for their websites.
How to Improve Website Speed?
Developing a great website takes great work and requires industry-proven experience, supernatural web development skills and a robust web hosting service. To build speed-optimized websites, investing in the right set of website speed optimization solutions and services, website management and coding trickery are essential. Strategic business decisions based on this knowledge can lead to better online sales, leads, conversions and ultimately business success.
DIY Speed Optimization
Online business owners and webmasters adjust their websites to maintain optimal results in the face of constant change by improving and optimizing key website design elements that make or break page speed.
Web page download time depends on the total size of content assets being downloaded from hosting servers to the requesting browser. High-quality bulky images are the largest contributors to web page size, degrading page speed and agitating visitors.
To reduce the negative impact of images on website speed. Best practices for image optimization include choosing a more compressed format selection (i.e. webp), proper sizing, compression, and using fewer images.
Additionally, you can also achieve better performance using image optimization plugins such as Imagify, Optimus WordPress Image Optimizer, WP Smush, TinyPNG, EWWW Image Optimizer Cloud.
Optimize CSS Code and Delivery
To ensure a speed-optimized CSS delivery, it is important to use shorthand coding, remove unused CSS, use inline small CSS, and reduce the weight of CSS code.
Plugins – Less is More!
Plugin performance degradation is a major concern for webmasters, so it is important to select high-quality plugins that perform complex operations, load many content assets and scripts, increase the number of database queries, and perform requests to external APIs.
Low-quality plugins can add half a second to page load time, so using tons of plugins for simple and unique tasks is better than deploying one plugin to perform all of the complex tasks by itself. WordPress solutions should be used to keep a check on WordPress plugin performance.
Limit/Disable WordPress Revisions
One of the benefits of WordPress is revision control. The CMS maintains track of all content created on the CMS and makes it available for future changes. This costs the server unnecessary processing through additional database records that were never needed in the first place. Controlling the number of revisions saved frees up space on the website’s core. To work around this problem, add the following code fragments to the wp-config.php file:
define( ‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, false );
define( ‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, 10 ); // limited to 10 revisions
WordPress CMS stores posts, comments, pages and other forms of textual and encrypted data in a single database, which can become crowded over time. Garbage content includes comments in the spam queue, unapproved comments, post revisions, and trash items such as posts and pages.
Database optimization involves getting rid of garbage data and useless content, shrinking databases, and using InnoDB for MySQL database tables. The wp_options table is often overlooked when it comes to overall WordPress and database performance, leading to slow query times.
You can also limit, disable and delete post revisions. Additionally, automatically purge trash by adding the following code in the wp-config.php file:
define(‘EMPTY_TRASH_DAYS’, 10 );
Here 10 is the number of days after which garbage data will be automatically deleted. You can change it as appropriate.
According to Google, the cyber world wastes 99 years of human years every day as a result of uncompressed Web material. And, while most modern Web browsers enable content compression, not every website offers compressed content. Visitors to these bandwidth-hogging websites experience excruciatingly slow screen interactions.
Misconfigured hosting sites, Web proxies, old or buggy browsers, and antivirus software are the primary causes of this unfavorable (and mostly unintended) website behavior. Uncompressed material harms bandwidth-constrained users who are subjected to excruciatingly long page load times.
Webmasters can reduce page rendering times by delivering cached copies of the requested content instead of rendering it repeatedly in response to user requests. This process reduces the number of client-server round trips taken in delivering (static) website content to requesting browsers.
Website owners can enable caching with add-ons and configurations such as W3 Total Cache, WP Rocket FastCGI Cache, and WordPress Cache. Storing cached copies of non-reusable dynamic content doesn’t make sense, as rendering non-cached content is a painstakingly slow process.
Fragment caching is the art of caching smaller elements of non-cacheable dynamic website content for maximum page speed. Kinsta provides four types of caching, all of which are automatically done at the software or server level.
Content Delivery Networks (CDN)
CDN is a cache optimization extension intended to boost website performance, especially for globally dispersed web traffic. CDNs are networks of servers that store cached copies of websites. Internet users who seek this information are routed to the closest server within this network based on their geographical location.
Traditional CDN advantages such as speed boost, high availability, and page rank contribute to a higher bottom line for businesses. Check out all of the benefits of using a CDN. For all WordPress Hosting customers, Kinsta includes a free HTTP/2 and IPv6-enabled WordPress CDN!
Switch to Managed Hosting!
Managed WordPress hosting is the most cost-effective and productive option for maintaining an ultra-high-performance website, with features such as performance optimization, content optimization, search engine optimization, plugin compatibility, database optimization, performance testing and monitoring, server and website configuration and maintenance, and latest versions of PHP and MariaDB.
WordPress with PHP7
PHP 7 has significant performance gains over its previous iterations, allowing it to execute twice as many requests per second and execute almost half of the latency of PHP 5.6. PHP 7.3 is also 9% faster than PHP 7.2. To maximize performance, users should use the latest stable version of PHP with their WordPress installation.
Hurrey! You’ve made it this far in the long blog! Congratulations, and thank you for taking the time to read it. We hope you discovered at least a couple of useful pieces of advice that you can put into practice right away! At OTT SEO, we offer the best SEO and marketing services, and with our infrastructure, you can be confident that after proper optimization, we will assist you in achieving success. If you want, you can try OTT SEO. And don’t forget to share our post with your friends and followers if you found our guide useful!