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25.02.2018

The need for speed on the web

This is not a post about a web-version of the popular racing game title ‘Need for Speed’ by EA, although I love that game and I have wasted too many hours racing through dark cities and endless highways, followed by a police squadron. This article is about something else: The speed of the internet and specifically the speed at which your website loads.

Equally exciting, but far more important, as website speed is a big success factor. More than 20 years after Neilson Norman Group posted an article with a similar title and similar content. Althought the online world has changed significantly in the meantime, this subject is still relevant. Allow me to explain why.

Impatient visitors

Research on e-commerce websites shows that 40 percent of consumers will wait no more than three seconds for a web page to render before abandoning the site. The avarage loading time of websites is currently 3.7 seconds. Mobile traffic has an increased latency of about 200ms, making your website even slower. We also know that the percentage mobile traffic is growing steadily. This means that already OVER 50% of the websites fails to render within three seconds (and is losing visitors). As a consequence of the rising percentage of mobile traffic this number is expected to only increase.

Better ranking

A slow website has another problem: It might not reach that first page or position in Google. Google penalizes slow websites. They have been doing this since 2010. From July 2018 speed will actually be a ranking factor in mobile search too. This makes improving the speed of your website an important search engine optimization for all platforms.

Improved conversion

Examples show that speedy websites have more conversion than slow websites. On a fast website visitors will be more likely to fill out an order form, enter contact details or subscribe to an email newsletter. Making your website faster can easily result in a 20% conversion increase.

Improved UX

Slow websites makes visitors frustrated and angry. That negative feeling is associated with your brand. People remember a slow website. A quick website, however, means a better experience and more engagement. Quicker page loads mean better UX.

Speed matters

As you can see, speed is a big factor in the success of your website. Your website will rank better, have more visitors, more conversion and a better experience. The value of your website is directly related to its speed. Speed really matters.

A real-life example

Let us look at at a responsive retina-ready one-page website, with custom fonts, a lot of imagery and javascript, that looks like this:

This page is only 1 megabyte large and load in 0.6 seconds, as reported by GT Metrix. Note that this means it still requires 4 seconds on 3G, according to the Google mobile speed tester for 3G. Luckily, most people surf on 4G today, but is shows that websites are not easily fast enough.

Anlyzing and optimizing speed

You can get some valuable advice from independent speed analysis tools like GT Metrix, Google Lighthouse and the Google mobile speed tester for 3G. They will give you the numbers and tell you exactly how to make your web page faster. Need more help? Do not hesitate to ask.

Usecue  web development
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Usecue  web development