These days, faster is better. At least when it comes to websites.
People are busy, and they want what they want, when they want it, and that includes all the information they’re gathering on the internet.
If your website slows them down and gets in their way, they’ll be off to your competitor’s site faster than you can say Bill Gates.
Studies show that most users will leave a site if it hasn’t loaded in 4 seconds, which means you don’t have a lot of time to grab their attention and convince them to hang around for a while longer.
There are many things that can contribute to slow web page load times, including but not necessarily limited to images that have not been optimized and are too large, too much content on one page (including images), too many scripts running in the background, and too many plugins installed for added functionality. The latter will also install additional scripts, which can slow your site down tremendously.
If you have a WordPress website, or other content management system, sometimes it is easy to get caught up in all the bells and whistles that there are to play with, and we forget that actually installing all those fun things can really slow our website down, thereby inhibiting the customer experience and potentially costing you clients.
How can you find out how slow your website actually is?
There are two tools that I recommend for analyzing the speed and performance of your website.
GTmetrix uses Google Page Speed and Yahoo! YSlow to grade your site’s performance and provides actionable recommendations to fix the issues that it finds. Sometimes the report can be difficult to understand, and actually taking some of the actions they recommend seem a little daunting, even to me. Having said that, at least it’s a start towards a faster website, and every little bit you can do will help. As time goes by you will learn more about it and eventually be able to make some of the other changes that might be needed.
This tool will tell you if you’re following Google’s guidelines and best practices for a well performing website. Once you’ve analyzed your site, the report will give you pretty clear results, and good explanations of what they mean and how to improve your results.
FeedTheBot also offers a variety of other tools to help you, such as their own page speed tool, link report, Gzip compression test & an SEO tool that can help you see what SEO elements may be missing from your site that Google finds pretty important.
Have you had issues with a slow website? What have you done to speed it up? Have you tried either of these resources I’ve mentioned? Please share in the comments below!