When it comes to website performance, one of the fundamental questions to ask is — how long does it take for your website to load? What is page speed optimization and why is it important?
It’s a frustrating user experience when a website takes ages to load. But with a modern patience threshold lower than before, you can risk losing visitors who drop off anything that takes longer than a few seconds to load.
Your page speed makes the first impression on your business. That’s why it is crucial to adopt page speed optimization practices to give users a seamless experience.
First, let’s start with the definition of page speed.
What Is Page Speed
Page speed is the time it takes for a browser to receive a web server’s first byte (or in layman’s terms, the content on your page to load).
Many factors can affect the speed of your page, including your user’s device and browser to the content type and code on your page.
Every decision you make about your website can contribute to your page speed, which affects your user’s experience on your website.
Why Is Page Speed Optimization Important
People notice how long a page takes to load.
According to a study by Google, 53% of users leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load, and the bounce rate can drastically go up to 90% if it takes 5 seconds.
Slow websites can damage your brand reputation and cost you sales.
That’s why any website needs to take page speed optimization seriously, even if it just reduces your page loading speed by 1 second.
You can lower bounce rates, boost engagement, and improve conversions with faster websites by offering a better user experience.
Most importantly, Google also makes some final ranking determinations based on page speed, which is a fundamental factor influencing your site’s SEO rankings.
While you now understand the importance of page speed optimization, another question you to ask is — how fast do your website and pages need to load?
What Is A Good Page Load Speed
According to Google’s John Mueller, the ideal time for loading your webpage or site should be less than 2 to 3 seconds.
To test your site speed and user experience, Google offers PageSpeed Insights which scores your site speed and provides recommendations to improve your site’s performance.
PageSpeed Insights test your page against Google’s Core Web Vitals, breaking down the time it takes for your website to reach each stage of the page-loading process.
Specifically, the three metrics measures how actual users experience your page and compare it to Google’s benchmark:
- Largest Content Paint (LCP) — the time for the main content on a web page to appear for users should be under 2.5 seconds.
- First Input Delay (FID) — the web page’s response time to a user’s first interaction should be under 100 milliseconds.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) score —- the number of layout shifts that affect a user’s ability to read content or interact with the page should be 0.1 or less.
On top of meeting Google’s recommended benchmarks, various other web elements can affect your page speed.
7 Actionable Tips For Optimizing Page Speed
1. Web Host Efficiency
Choosing the right hosting provider is one of the critical factors that can impact your website speed performance.
Each web host offers different features, but some key items to look out for better performance and speed are the RAM, hard drive, bandwidth, and caching technologies.
Use SSDs over HHDs as they are faster and more reliable. Ensure your web host allocates adequate RAM and bandwidth to support your website functions.
2. Reduce The Time To The First Byte (TTFB)
Time to first byte (TTFB) is the parameter used to measure a web server’s reactivity and significantly impacts user experience.
It is essential to make your TTFB value as low as possible. Some methods to optimize your TTFB involve improving your application code and database queries, such as:
- Faster Domain Name Service (DNS) resolve.
- Optimize how your server queries databases and reduce HTTP requests.
- Improve backend performance by normalizing and indexing the database.
- Adding a load balancer and caching static and dynamic content.
- Use Respond First, Process Later (RFPL) cache.
- Implement HTTP/2 to make data transmissions faster.
3. Keep It Simple With Your Website
When creating a fast and responsive website, prevention is better than cure.
Many web elements can affect your page speed. Opting for a website design that prioritizes functionality while keeping it simple can go a long way.
Avoid overly complex implementations or bells and whistles that take time to load.
This refers to everything from visuals to codes and plugins. Design elements like HTML codes to the size of images can easily affect how quickly or slowly your page loads.
Likewise, effective short copywriting can improve your page speed and keep readers engaged and glued to your website.
Both affect the critical render path, the series of events that happen in the background before your content is shown.
Additionally, ReactJS is of the best frameworks you can use as it can enhance the rending time of the web application.
5. Compress File Size To Reduce Page Weight
It goes without saying —- for page speed, file size matters. The smaller the file size of a page, the faster your page will load.
With this, we recommend compressing the size of your files that are larger than 150 bytes. One of the most reliable compression frameworks you can use is Gzip.
Enabling Gzip compression can reduce the size of the transferred data by as much as 90%, significantly reducing the time and data usage to download the resource.
6. Consider A Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Content delivery network (CDN) services can also help improve your page loading speed if you serve content outside your country’s borders.
CDN works as the cached version of your web page content is available globally across a network of computer servers.
This reduces latency, the physical distance for data traveling, which allows you to distribute web page assets like videos and images to the target location faster.
For example, let’s say you are in Thailand. Your content can load much faster when connected to a Singapore server than a server based in the United States.
However, CDNs are only supplementary to a good web hosting service. Its function is to help web hosts cache content so hosts can load assets with less bandwidth.
7. Write Mobile-First Code
With more users now accessing the web through mobile devices, it is also crucial to consider optimizing your page speed on a mobile device.
However, this can be slightly different from desktop. On top of using lean, mobile-first design elements, you need to convert your mobile website into AMP format.
Introduced by Google, AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages is a web format that relies primarily on lightweight HTML and lazy loading. It caches your page content in Google Cloud, which will help boost your page speed on mobile.
Most importantly, implementing AMP is as easy as enabling a plugin on WordPress or writing additional code to your site.
The faster your website loads and displays content for your user, the lower your bounce rates and the better your user experience and chances for conversions.
However, it is crucial to understand that your page loading speeds result from multiple factors. So make sure you implement all the page speed optimization tips to see results!
Author Adela Belin is a content marketer and blogger at Writers Per Hour. She is passionate about sharing stories with the hope to make a difference in people’s lives and contribute to their personal and professional growth. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.