5 DIY Steps to Stop Poor Website Speeds from Destroying Online Sales
The speed of your website matters. As internet speeds increase across the globe, it seems that we are becoming more and more impatient.
Research now suggests that users become frustrated when they have to wait more than 2 seconds for a website to load. 30% of people say that they expect sites to load in under one second.
The consequences of having a slow website can be pretty severe. Not only are you going to get less traffic, but conversion rates drop off sharply the slower your site, significantly impacting your bottom line.
In a lot of cases, a payment system that is too slow will make your customers think that your website is poorly managed, and therefore insecure. This can lead to them quickly abandoning an online purchase.
The statistics here make for sobering reading. Research by Kissmetric shows that a one second delay in page loading times can lead to an 11% drop in page views, and a 16% drop in customer satisfaction.
And if you’ve never thought about optimizing your website for speed, or haven’t done so in a while, performance gains should be easy to make, and will probably have a big impact on your bottom line. Even speeding up your page load time by 2 seconds can increase conversions by 1%:
How To Speed Up Your Website
Speeding up your website, if you haven’t looked into it before, it’s actually pretty easy. There is a range of online tools that will automate many of the processes you need to perform, and so you don’t need to be a real techie to achieve significant speed increases.
Let me take a through a few of these.
Test Your Page Speed
The first and most important step in optimizing your load speeds is to work out how fast your page is at the moment. Even if it seems like your website is running quite fast, it’s worth measuring the actual speed regularly, because a poorly implemented update can cause problems.
There are loads of tools online that will measure your page speed for you. Though they are all pretty similar, I’d recommend PageSpeed Insights as one of the best. It checks your load speeds on both desktops and mobile devices, and gives you a detailed run-down of areas where you can improve.
You can see that tools like this will tell you if your HTML, CSS, or some other component of your site is running slowly. This allows you to focus your efforts on improving the components that are causing the most trouble.
Use A CDN
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) can be an easy way of speeding up your load times, especially if you get a lot of traffic from abroad. These services work by shifting some of your content onto local servers around the world, and letting users access this content from their nearest server.
There’s a lot of hype around CDNs at the moment, some of which is just marketing hyperbole. If the vast majority of your customers are in the US, or another country with a fast internet connection, a CDN is not really going to give you big performance gains.
But if you’re making online sales to Australia, for instance, where internet speeds are still pretty slow, investing in a CDN can be an easy way of increasing your page load times. There are plenty of options available, from budget solutions to fully-featured, customizable systems. SiteLock TrueSpeed, MaxCDN, and Cloudflare are good places to start.
Minify Your Code
It might sound like delving into the base code of your site is going to be complicated, but it need not be.
If you’ve got the expertise and the time, by all means go through your code by hand and make it more efficient. Look for obsolete modules, scripts being loading before they are needed, and even white space in the code itself, which can make files larger than they need to be.
Compress and Optimize Your Images
I can’t believe the number of websites I still see with huge images. If you’re taking pictures of your products with your iPhone, be aware that the phone will spit out an image far larger than you need it to be for your website.
Ideally, you should re-size all of your images to the size they will actually appear on your site. Forcing your customer’s browser to re-size all of your HD images will really slow down page load times, and could cost you sales.
There are also plenty of online tools to help you re-size mages. TinyPNG, for instance, allows you to upload images, and will automatically compress them without affecting their quality:
Get Better Hosting
If you’ve done everything I’ve suggested, and your pages are still loading slowly, it could be time to change your web host. There are some web hosting companies – I will name no names – that take advantage of the fact that people tend to sign up for a host and then forget about them.
The best approach here is to do your own research and find a host that provides a fast service for wherever you are based. Look at where your sales come from, also, and make sure that your host can deliver them quickly in these areas.
Another thing to look for in a web host is downtime. If your website is down for even 4% of the time, you are going to lose a lot of potential sales.
Keep Checking your Speed
There is no substitute for knowledge, so keep checking your page speeds regularly, optimize when necessary, and you should quickly see your sales increase.