Having a website is very much like having a retail store. Your store may be gorgeous and sell some really great products, but if your customers get lost, find the layout frustrating, or get really slow service, they will go elsewhere.
If your website is struggling and suffering from a high bounce rate, it’s likely you may have a speed problem. In my experience, this is a super common problem, but one that could be really costing you.
In 2017, the BBC found they lost an additional 10% of users for every additional second their site took to load. I have found that the most effective websites completely load and open in, or under, 4 seconds.
So the first step to solving your problem is to figure out if you have one. Try this free speed test tool from Google to see how fast your site loads on a mobile phone using a 3G internet connection: here.
How to hurry things up
So now that you have established that your site is struggling, here are 3 relatively simple changes you can make to solve your speed problem:
1. Those big, beautiful images
By adding beautiful backgrounds, banners and high-resolution product images you may end up with a website that looks stunning, but is dramatically slowing down its loading speed. Luckily you don’t have to remove all the eye-candy from your site.
Free tools, such as compressor.io, allow you to reduce the actual file size of your images by up to 75% without any loss in quality. That means that you can still have those stunning photos and get your site to load a lot faster.
If you are using a content management system, such as WordPress, plugins like Optimus and PageSpeed Ninja can automatically optimise your images (and make them an appropriate size) as you import them.
2. Themes and preloaders
Some sites and content management themes show a loading screen, or animation, to the customer while the page loads. I find that a lot of users simply close a website the second they see a loading screen.
I always recommend to my clients at Bastion & Flowe to ditch the preloader, and rather prioritise the content that needs to be shown by having it above the fold, so it gets loaded first. Above the fold is the part of the site you see on screen without having to scroll down.
It lets the user know that they are in the right place right away, so they’re less likely to leave before the site finishes loading.
You can speed up your site even further by making use of browser caching. This feature allows a copy of your site to be saved on a visitors web browser, so next time they visit they don’t have to download all the content and images again.
Another caching option is Cloudflare. They offer a service that creates and hosts a “cached” version of your website on their servers all over the world. Meaning that your site can load faster, as there is less strain on your web server, and the user will actually be downloading it from a server closer to them. Another benefit is that if your web hosting server goes down, your site will still be accessible. You can sign up for a free account and learn more about Cloudflare: here.
These changes may seem small and simple, but by implementing them, I have seen great improvements and real results on the sites that I’ve worked on. Good luck and good-speed!