Advice

The importance of website page speed and its effect on your website.

Learn about the effect that site speed can have on your website. We'll walk through what's impacted, how to check your page speed, and how to fix these issues.

Will Qu
Updated
September 30, 2020
·
13
Min Read
Table of Contents

(Disclaimer: Some of our articles may contain affiliate links. We only promote companies that we are completely happy with recommending to our closest friends).

Website page speed is a factor that most people don't consider when they run their website. It's funny because a lot of us notice it immediately when we visit a website with low page speeds. Have you ever seen a cool product for sale and opened the website just to be met with the barely loaded framework of a page for just a second or two too long? For most people, the annoyance builds instantly. Slow speeds are intended to be a thing of the past, and visitors expect professionals to do better.

As far as website specifics go, this is one that can have a significant impact on how people interact with your website. Still, few people know what website page speed is or how it can affect their business. In this article, we are going to discuss page speed and the ways that it can influence how people view your website. This simple characteristic can play a huge role when it comes to determining how people experience your website and view your business.

Illustration of a man sitting on top of a loading bar.

Understanding Website Page Speed

In its most basic form, website page speed is how long it takes to load a webpage. A fully loaded page should have all elements active and ready to go almost immediately. No awkward white pages, no half-loaded layout, and no fields that you cannot instantly interact with. Your website speed will ultimately determine how quickly a visitor can enjoy your website, and this can have some pretty significant impacts on how they view your brand.

Most people who own websites believe that website page speed isn’t a huge deal. So what if it takes an extra second? Is it that big of a problem? The reality is that website speed can absolutely ruin the way that your website operates in the eyes of a user. Furthermore, site speed is a confirmed ranking signal (confirmed below).

The Search team announced speed would be a ranking signal for desktop searches in 2010 and as of this month (July 2018), page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches too. Source: Google

If your website seems to be slow, it might be time to pursue some ways to boost your speed.

What Is Impacted By Page Speed?

The impacts of page speed on your website can range widely. Website speed can quickly transform from a simple inconvenience to an all-out problem that ultimately loses you money in the end. You must address website speed. Your customers will recognize the difference, even if you don’t. When your website speed is lacking, people will get upset with it very quickly.

Illustration of a man standing next to a large mobile phone with User Experience design elements on the screen.

User Experience

The most significant and most immediate issue that arises with slow-moving pages is that it is terrible for your user experience. A good website will load quickly and make transitioning from one page to the next feel fluid and immediate. Users may not notice when your website is incredibly responsive, but they will without question notice if it isn’t.

You might think that slower page speeds are acceptable because the majority of the page loads immediately. In reality, you have to consider that moment where a user goes to use that exact section that has not loaded. That is where the problems will start. We all know the anxiety of entering personal information into a website that takes a little too long to load. It is generally considered a good reason to avoid a website entirely. Do not open yourself up to the risk of losing customers simply because you did not address this maintenance problem.

Bounce Rate

To identify the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page, you need to look at the bounce rate. You would be amazed by just how much this number matters. It can lose you a relatively high percentage of otherwise interested visitors.

Even worse than the fact that the bounce rate actively shows you how many people are outright bailing on your webpage, it also tends to increase at a high rate for each second of load time. Take a look at some statistics from Google.

The neural net, which had a 90% prediction accuracy, found that as page load time goes from one second to 10 seconds, the probability of a mobile site visitor bouncing increases 123%. Similarly, as the number of elements—text, titles, images—on a page goes from 400 to 6,000, the probability of conversion drops 95%. Google/SOASTA Research, 2017.

In the modern age, people expect web pages to load immediately. When they don’t, it can make the website seem less credible. Ultimately, people will decide to leave the website entirely in search of a more advanced alternative.

Illustration of a woman holding a credit card in her left hand with money falling out of it.

Conversion Rate

Conversion rate is a metric that should be measured to demonstrate the effectiveness of website interaction. A conversion rate is, specifically, the data related to how many interested parties commit to an action. Depending on what your website’s focus is, this might look a little different for you. For some websites, it means getting a direct sale. For others, it might mean signing up for a newsletter. It is all about getting the visitor to complete a task.

When your website has a slow page speed, you are immediately making them want to choose someone else instead. If it takes too long to load a single page, the person will assume that this experience will be consistent every step of the way. No one wants to spend ten minutes waiting on various pages to load for online shopping when they can use One-Click on Amazon.

In addition to being a total hindrance to the process, this is another area where credibility plays a significant role. Given the constant security breaches and the ongoing battle against online identity theft, people are wary of shopping online. Plenty of people do shop online, but most of them will keep an eye out for anything that might be deemed concerning or untrustworthy. Slow load speeds are generally considered an indication of outdated technology. This might cause your audience to worry about the integrity of your website, which means they may leave the page and choose someone else instead.

Illustration of a man standing in front of a chart that shows declining figures..

SEO Rank Loss

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the go-to way to get your website on the map. It is all about using the right strategies to cater your website to Google and other popular search engines. These search engines will analyze the website and its content to decide where it falls in the pages of searchable material. Want people to find your website? It is essential to make sure that Google likes your page.

One thing that Google and other search engines condemn is slow website speeds. These systems check into certain critical technical features, and this is one of them. When a popular search engine sees that your page loading time is much slower than the next website or store in your niche, it will rank you lower.

A lower SEO rank means that you will be harder to find. You want people to be able to locate your business when it comes to searching for any text that might be related to you. A low SEO rank means that you will be further down the list in the search engine findings.
Though you might not think that this is a big deal, it can make your website virtually nonexistent in the eyes of potential customers. Most people don’t spend time going past the first couple of pages when it comes to search results. A lot of people never even make it past the first page. It shows just how imperative it is for your website to rank high so you can access your audience more effectively.

Simple Steps To Test Your Website Speed In 2 Minutes

There are a wide variety of tools available online to determine your website speed, as well as basic methods. We recommend GTmetrix and Pingdom.

Testing Your Page Speed Using GTmetrix

GTmetrix is a tool the allows you to easily test the performance of your webpages. Visit the site here.

Screenshot from GTmetrix.com. Remember to select the location closest to your target demographic. In our case, we sell to Australians so we’ll pick Sydney, Australia.

Enter your webpage URL, and remember to select the location closest to your target demographic. You will need to create a free account with GTmetrix to change the testing server location. Once you have entered your URL click "analyze".

Quko Studio Website Performance Report GTmetrix

At the top of the page, you’ll see a screenshot of the page, and an overview of the Analysis Options used to generate the report.

GTmetrix performance scores for the homepage of quko.com.au
Performance scores for the homepage of quko.com.au

This is how the page scored in PageSpeed and YSlow. The scores are based on how well the page adheres to Google and Yahoo’s best practices. Hovering over the arrows tells you how this page scored compared to the average of all pages tested by GTmetrix in the past 30 days.

GTmetrix home page details including fully loaded time, page size, page requests for Quko Studio website
Page details for the homepage of quko.com.au

The page’s actual load time in a real browser, as well as its page size and number of requests.

GTmetrix PageSpeed recommendations of site speed improvements. Shown data is for quko.com.au
GTmetrix recommendations of what you can do to improve your site speed. Shown site is quko.com.au.

PageSpeed and YSlow recommendations are the best practices for your website for optimal front-end performance. Recommendations are ordered by the impact on your scores. Click on each recommendation to expand and show specific details.

Quko Studio loading waterfall timings
Waterfall timings for Quko Studio website. Data from GTmetrix.

The Waterfall Chart is a request-by-request visualization of the loading behaviour of the page. They may look intimidating, but Waterfall Charts are a great tool for troubleshooting performance issues.

How Can I Boost My Website Speed?

Slow website speeds or a decrease in website speed is something that should absolutely be looked into. Since it can have such a large impact on your site, you want to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. Fortunately, if you notice any issues with your website speed, there are a few simple steps that you or an admin can take to help improve your rate.

Check Your Website For Malware

A lot of the time, when a website starts to lose speed out of nowhere, it is because there is clutter on the site. Plenty of people don’t realize that a website can be infected, but it actually can. Over time, this will decrease the overall performance of your site. Running a quick scan and removing any issues can help you to help your website run better and more securely.

Use Quality WordPress Plugins

In the event that you are using WordPress, you might have realised that there is a plugin for just about everything. Fortunately for you, there are plugins designed specifically to help you to boost your website speed. These simple tools can make it possible for you to get a little speed boost with an easy to manage add-on. Here are three plugins we use and recommend:

WP Rocket

WP Rocket is one of those plugins we've tried and now include on every single one of our websites. It's a premium WordPress plugin that makes websites load much faster with just a few changes. Primarily, it's a caching plugin. There are free alternatives but from our tests WP Rocket is faster. The best part about this plugin for us is its ease of use. Just installing the plugin onto your website automatically does half the work for you. When you're ready to make further improvements, there are more advanced options such as media lazy-loading, webp image format serving, minification, CDN integration and much more. If we had to pick just one plugin to speed up a Wordpress website, WP Rocket would be our choice.

Imagify

Poor image optimisation is one of the most common errors we see on poorly made websites. Imagify makes it simple not to make this mistake by automatically optimising images you upload. The best part is there's a bulk optimisation option, which means you won't have to go through image by image.

Perfmatters

Perfmatters is the final cherry on our cake. It covers all those extra options that other plugins don't cover. With it you can limit stored post revisions, disable/tweak the Heartbeat API, host Google Analytics locally, and much much more. Take a look at a list of the features.

Work With Your Host

In some cases, the speed issue with your site might be related to your host. Whether it is linked to technical troubles or you need to upgrade your services to support more traffic, a lot of the time they can help you to find great solutions.

It is important that you pick a great host from the start. We’ve tried quite a few different companies here at Quko Studio, and we highly recommend Kinsta.

Kinsta - Fast & Secure Wordpress Hosting

Work With An Expert

If you are not the kind of person who loves technology, your website might benefit from a professional. Plenty of helpful web developers are available to help you keep your website running smoothly every single day. It is a small investment for a huge benefit in the long run. Calling in an expert can actually help you to save a ton of money. We provide this service with a one day turnaround. Read here.

Conclusion

A faster website creates a better user experience for your customers and is beneficial for SEO. Studies clearly show that users tend to click off more often and spend less time on websites when they load slowly.

Having proper load speeds on your site is not merely a matter of maintenance. It is truly one of the critical factors that a website is judged by. If you notice that your website has slower than average page speeds, it is time to get to work. Whether you follow some tips to boost your speed yourself, or you pay someone else to handle it for you, it can make a world of difference. Make sure that people are free to seamlessly glide through your website instead of leaving them stuck with frustrating loading problems. Your website deserves better, and so does your audience!

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