Your prospective client has decided to check out your website. He looks into the screen for a few seconds with anticipation, but can only see bits and pieces of it… so he waits a little longer. Will a couple more seconds turn his excitement into impatience? Will his impatience turn into discouragement? Will he give up on it and “X” your page out?
In today’s feature-filled web realm, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that over the years, site loading time has increased significantly. Unfortunately, the same features that have made our web experience more appealing, functional and interactive have also slowed down our web access. Should a few extra seconds, or even milliseconds of loading time concern you? According to Kissmetrics, they should. Their data suggests that for nearly 50% of PC users the threshold of page abandonment is at 3 seconds, and 79% of shoppers who had difficulties shopping online at a website said they wouldn’t go back to shop in it again. When using mobile devices, users tend to have more leniency, but if left waiting long enough, your website visitors will turn away and you will certainly lose conversions, which means, you will lose profit. Considering, further, that site load time is a component in Google ranking, it is certainly worth enhancing it.
To help you determine whether your site needs improvement, we encourage you to first make an assessment of your current speed. Websites such as webpagetest.org offer free website speed tests on different browsers, different networks and from different locations around the world, so you’ll have an idea of how a visitor experiences your website in real time. Google’s PageSpeed Tools can also analyze your website and help you identify elements that can be modified to speed up your loading time. This is the first place you should turn to, to figure out how to improve your loading time. Once that is done, you can look at some other ways these tools may not cover.
Here are a few general changes (that may be easily overlooked) you can make to your page to lighten it up:
- Reformat images
Upload JPEG images to your site as opposed to high quality PNG (PNG are higher quality and allow for transparency in images, so although it’s understandable that sometimes your site requires them, keep their use at a minimum.) JPEG images are lighter, compressed, and their quality is usually high enough for most uses on your website.
- Reduce the impact of audio files
Keep your music files at a bit rate of 128 kbps, which will maintain audio quality, and avoid using the Autoplay setting when possible.
To check your audio file’s bit rate before uploading it:
1) Right click the file
2) Click on Properties
3) Click on the Details tab, and you will be able to see the Bit rate
To change an audio file’s bit rate, we recommend you find a professional that can do this for you and still maintain an acceptable level of quality in your recording.
- Use lighter fonts
A font’s type and formatting can make it heavy, adding up to your site’s loading time. For example, thicker, more styled fonts are considered heavy. Also, using italics, bold or underlining words will make your font heavier.
We recommend not that you don’t use heavy fonts at all, but rather, that you use them expediently: in titles and subtitles only, choosing a lighter font for longer paragraphs, and limiting the number of fonts you use on your page.
We encourage you to modify these 3 components in your website, and you might be surprised at the difference that these few changes can make on your loading time. Share your experience in the comments below and let us know if these tips were able to save you one shake of a lamb’s tail in your loading time – after all, it might be all you need.