Website Performance Optimization - Part 1: Why?

How quickly your website loads can have a significant impact on your business.  Why is this important and how does it impact the effectiveness of your website? 

Three primary reasons:

  1. User Experience
  2. Search Engine Ranking Factors (Google, Bing & Yahoo)
  3. Mobile Users


User Experience

By paying attention to your website load time, you are improving your website user experience.   No one likes to wait while a web page loads.  You may be very proud of that 30 second splash animation, but the end-user is only annoyed.  Are you making the user wait unnecessarily? 

Web Performance Graph

As these graphics show, the longer the page load the more likely a user is to abandon your site and go to a competitor or alternate resource. 

Search Engine Ranking Factors

Search engines are trying to serve up the best results for a particular query.  To improve their results, they have started to factor page load and page optimization into the equation (or algorithm).  It only makes sense. 

As an example, let’s assume that we have two very similar websites: A and B.  Both websites have great content and are similar in every way except A has 10% faster page load.  If website A is 10% faster and users prefer that site over website B the search engines will detect this over time from bounce rates and other methods.  Because more users prefer or stay on Website A longer it gains a higher placement in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).  This higher placement can turn into many additional impressions, pages views and ultimately conversions. 

Mobile Users

Page load can have a dramatic impact on mobile users (or users with limited Internet connections).   For many, mobile devices are their primary and sometimes only method to access the Internet.  By not optimizing for their screen resolutions and slower connections you could potentially be limiting your customer base.  If your page loads a few seconds slower than a competitor on a fast Ethernet connection, those few seconds will translate into many seconds on a 3G phone.  According to a KISSMetrics survey, mobile users will wait 6-10 seconds before abandoning pages.

Load time is impacted by numerous factors including: how your website is constructed, where it is hosted, your Internet connection speed, your browser software, and the device it is being displayed on, just to name a few.  You may have noticed a lot of this is outside your control.  Part Two of this article is going to focus a couple of points that your web developer can control.

By Kevin West

Website Performance Optimization - Part 2: Tools