Is ultrafast web page load speed the new holy grail?

Is ultrafast web page load speed the new holy grail?

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Web page load speed is a complex factor tied to website performance. And, with faster loading pages directly leading to increased conversions, can you afford to be left behind?

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why web loading speed is critical to your business

Open your eyes to faster web page load speed.
Already one month into the new year and three websites have already been launched by the team at Design Inc. These are the latest in a very long line of corporate websites delivered by our team over the past twenty-five years.

Since 1997, Design Inc have built websites for companies across all industry sectors. Some small, many large, some simple, others highly complex. And, whilst they may all differ in terms of size, scope, brief & budget, the common denominator is that we ensure each one performs very highly indeed.

The goal, of course, is to create a website that cuts through the noise and appeals to the targeted audience, portrays the right profile & values and attracts relevant enquiries that convert.
In 1997, a website’s performance would have been confined to look and feel alone. These days it needs to consider web page load speed, robustness, security, usability as well as the ability to be found!

Website performance is the cornerstone of all successful websites. It establishes immediate credibility and buy-in and influences the visitors’ opinion and behaviour. Experiencing faster web page load speed, viewing relevant information and having a positive user experience will truly engage the visitor, gain user satisfaction, create more conversions and increase sales revenues.

So how fast should a website be?
Web page load speed is defined by how long it takes for all content of a web page to appear on screen. This includes all text, imagery, video, etc.
Way back in 2010, Google stated that, in order for a website to establish a positive UX, a web page should fully load within two seconds. And whilst, that still holds true today, research has shown that, with each additional second of load time (up to 9 seconds), website conversion rates drop by an average of 2.1%. And this can add up to significant missed revenues.

It is, of course, understandable that the longer one waits for a web page to load, the more likely they are to try elsewhere.
Interestingly, If we look at average page load times, the results are astonishing – the average mobile page loads slower than 15 seconds! And, even with the millions of old, obsolete websites removed and with sites now loading across 4G, the average page load time is still estimated to be over 10 seconds.
However, when comparing all new build sites (sites launched since 2017), it is estimated to have reduced to 8.6 seconds. The trend therefore is clear to see – web designers are getting better in reducing web waiting times. But there is still room for improvement.

The load speed irony
Page speed is directly linked to Search Engine Optimisation and has been a significant ranking factor for many years. And with Google’s game-changing shift to mobile-first indexing in 2017 and more recently the introduction of ‘page experience’ to its ranking algorithms, if you are looking to rank higher, the focus needs to be on your website’s mobile loading speeds.

Of course, mobile users expect and assume pages will load just as fast on their mobile devices as their desktop computers. Unfortunately, in most cases, this is not the case and, as per a Kissmetrics report, if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load, over a quarter of users will lose patience (and trust) and click away and choose a different search result.
So, ironically, the user tends to prefer to spend extra time searching for a competitor than waiting those extra seconds for the page to load.

This irony is not lost on Jasper Hargreaves, Chief Technology Office at Moore Wilson: “Knowledge of search behaviours has, for many years, been fundamental in the way specialist web agencies approach website builds. The focus on ultra-fast mobile load speeds coupled with progressive SEO has been a game changer when it comes to a site’s performance over its competition. Good SEO will only go so far to attract the visitor. Ultra-fast web speeds will help convert them.”

Faster page load speed = increased sales revenues
Faster page loading directly increases conversion rates. And, increased conversion rates are directly linked to increased sales revenue.
The stats don’t lie – as each second passes, the potential to lose out on prospective customers increases. And, with this in mind, we all need to start thinking about what we can do to our existing websites to speed things up.

The main area to consider is whether you can reduce the file size / number of content elements on your web page(s).
In 2018, Google stated that even though most web traffic occurs on 4G instead of 3G, the majority of mobile sites are still slow and bloated due to too many page elements. They went on to claim that the optimal average request count — the number of individual pieces of content needed to display the entire web page — is fewer than 50.

So, if your webpage is busy with lots of elements: video, images, text, designs, then consider either reducing the clutter. Do you really need so many heavy videos or images on the page? Perhaps some can be redistributed to other pages on the site?

Between 2011 and today, the file size of imagery has increased from 250KB to 900KB on desktop and from 100KB to 850KB on mobile. That’s quite some additional weight they are carrying and, as such, it is good practice to compress the web files to reduce file size.
It is accepted that, through compressing images and text, 10% of pages can actually save more than 1MB whereas 25% of them could save more than 250KB.

For web pages that need to feature a long form or a load of images on a scrollable page (an online shop, for example), then your web developer may also consider ‘lazy-loading’ – this is a strategy to load the images only when needed (ie when your scrolling reaching that point on the webpage).
By only loading the assets when they are needed, this can have a significant positive affect on page load speeds.

And, even if you have streamlined your website, reduced the clutter, compressed the files, added lazy load, there are always browser caching tools to help reduce the load of your site each time someone visits the page.

All these solutions and more will help speed up your page load time and, as previously mentioned, faster page loads = increased sales.
So, test your own website page speed now via Google PageSpeed Insights and then discuss your options with your web developer. Once these are implemented, we guarantee you’ll be impressed with the results.

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Design Inc is a full service creative & digital agency based in Surrey, UK. To discuss your web requirements, please contact us now.