Making websites load faster isn’t just about delivering a good web design service. It’s about making the internet better for users while also reducing the impact on the environment.
On the one hand, a speedy site is key to success. The time it takes for a site to load is one of the factors search engines consider when deciding where to rank it in search. It makes sense that immediacy gets rewarded: it’s what your site visitors want!
But there’s more to page speed than keeping Google et al happy. Speedy sites are also better for the environment.
Low-carbon web design and page speed
In 2022, we need to be looking beyond what’s good for our customers and do what’s right for the planet as a whole. That includes reducing your website’s carbon footprint.
As mentioned in a previous blog post about how to make your site more environmentally friendly, every action we take online creates a bit of carbon emissions. Whether that’s sending an email or hosting a website, our digital activities all have an impact on the world.
And – surprise, surprise – slow-loading sites have a more detrimental impact on the environment, because they require more energy.
As an advocate of low-carbon web design, I feel it’s crucial we do all we can to reduce the environmental impact of our online lives.
The great news for business owners is that speeding up your website has other benefits too, which can bring you more custom.
Search engines prefer fast-loading websites
Your website is visited by both humans, who look at what’s on the surface, and robots, which look under the hood.
These search engine spiders and screen readers pay little attention to what your site looks like. They only look at the source code. Here they want to see code that is “clean”: well-written, structured, and optimised to make their job of reading your site easier.
Back in November 2019, Google reiterated its commitment to creating an instantaneous browsing experience for users. Posting on the Chromium blog, members of the Chrome team wrote that “speed has been one of Chrome’s core principles since the beginning”.
They explained that one way in which they want to make this a reality is to reward websites that deliver fast experience, and highlight the ones that may load slowly.
“In the future, Chrome may identify sites that typically load fast or slow for users with clear badging,” they wrote.
Whilst this has yet to happen, it may well be that the Chrome team will start experimenting with these badges next to search engine results – perhaps with a gold star next to the speedy sites and some sort of badge of shame next to the slow ones?
Fast websites provide a better user experience
But of course, we have to try to appease both our robot overlords and our human visitors. So how does page speed affect your potential buyers?
One thing to consider is that people’s attention spans and patience are getting shorter.
Research from Contentsquare shows that every second delay in page load equates to a 17% drop in customer satisfaction and a 20% drop in conversion rate!
It’s clear that you need to get to the point fast if you want to engage people.
There’s just no room for waiting for a slow site to load up, as people will go elsewhere or simply lose interest. All your hard marketing work for nothing as they turn back before engaging at all.
And if they do persist, they can easily be put off by a page that keeps jumping around on their screens as graphics keep loading in while they scroll.
Your customers have plenty of other places to go online, so you need to make sure you don’t put them off before you’ve had the chance to show them what you’re all about.
A bad experience with your website becomes a bad experience with your business.
Speeding up your website
If you’re asking yourself “Why is my website so slow?” your first step is to understand your current position.
You can use a free tool such as Google Pagespeed Insights to rate your page speed.
Consider the fact that your site needs to be speedy not only on desktop, but also for mobile users.
As of 2022, around 55% of all UK internet activity takes place on mobile phones. This number has been rising steadily over the years and will only continue to do so.
Websites selling direct to consumers often have significantly higher mobile traffic than this. Some of my eCommerce web design clients get mobile traffic of up to 85%!
There are many factors that influence website page speed, ranging from the number and size of the files used on a page, to the quality of your hosting package.
Here are a few tips to get you started speeding up your website.
- Choose a good web hosting provider – Not only will quality hosting providers improve your page load speed, but they also offer better security, back-up, and eco credentials.
Read more about how to choose a good web hosting provider.
- Compress your images – you can make the files smaller without losing quality by using a tool such as tinyPNGor the EWWW Image Optimizer.
- Reduce the number of files on a page – A web page that is made up of 20 files will be quicker for your browser to load than one with 100 files. This is often a problem when using pre-built themes as opposed to custom-built websites, as templates need to load all the functionality on a page rather than just the things that are needed.
Read more about custom vs pre-built WordPress themes.
- Avoid third-party scripts – Social media feeds, Google Ads and Analytics scripts are all horrifically slow (not to mention they add loads of creepy tracking cookies to your site). Consider whether your website needs them, and get rid if it doesn’t!
- Uninstall any plugins that are not useful – Do you actually need a resource-hogging Live Chat plugin? Probably not!
PJWD prides itself on designing high quality, low-carbon websites. If you would like some help making your website faster, you can book a web design consultancy session!