How Fast is Your Website? Page Load Speed Matters

 

Gijs Hovens SavviiEXPERT BLOG – Website speed and page-loading times are some of the most important assets when it comes to building and managing a modern and successful website. But how do fast loading statistics affect visitor numbers and conversion rates? Savvii, a global Managed WordPress Hosting provider, has launched a white paper on this topic and their marketing manager – Gijs Hovens – will highlight some of the white paper content in this expert blog.

Author: Gijs Hovens, marketing manager, Managed WordPress Hosting provider Savvii

What distinct advantages does a fast website offer? And how should your website perform when it comes to important speed measurements like time to first byte (TTFB) and the total loading time of a website page? In this article, I will explore and answer these important questions.

The full White Paper on website speed and page-loading times can be downloaded here.

Loading and Average Visiting Times

Research shows that loading times directly affect the average amount of time that visitors spend on your website. Most users have little or no patience for a web page that takes too long to load. So in general, slower response and loading times will result in an increase in web page abandonment. The faster a website loads, the longer people are likely to stick around.

Visitors also tend to look at more pages if a website offers a fast and customer-friendly browsing experience. Visitors that take the time to view multiple pages of your site, are also much more likely to generate conversions in comparison to short-term visitors who visit only one or two pages.

Time to First Byte, Start Render Time

If you want to determine the ideal loading time of a website, we must first distinguish between the various aspects composing this number.

  • Time to first byte (TTFB) – TTFB measures the duration from the user or client making an HTTP request to the first byte of the page being received by the client’s browser. TTFB tells you a lot about the speed and responsiveness of your network, the server and the actual site. The location from which a request is made, affects your time to first byte. The TTFB value also depends on the ranking results of your website in Google. Research conducted by Moz and Jitbit shows that TTFB is a key factor when it comes to the SEO performance of your website. Ideally, the time to first bite should be about 0,2 seconds (or less of course).
  • Start render – this number shows the amount of the time it takes until the first piece of page content is displayed in the browser window (the moment in which the blank screen changes and starts to reveal content). A good start render time decreases the likelihood of a quick website abandonment. The visitor will wait longer, anticipating the appearance of the rest of the textual information and images. In this case, faster is better. A start render time of 1-2 seconds is thoroughly recommended.
  • The total loading time – is the moment in which all of the elements of a website (HTML, images, CSS and Javascript) are readily loaded.

Research Results Proof: Speed Makes or Breaks a Website

Modern man consumes bigger and bigger bulks of digital information than ever before. On the other hand, the time that is available to take in and appropriately digest this information is getting increasingly shorter. The result: a more critical approach towards websites or online stores and their performances. Research confirms and cements this trend.

  • com has recorded a significant, 7% rise in conversions after decreasing the average render time of web pages by 68 percent.
  • A presentation by AliExpress shows us that when reducing page load times by 36% it will show a 10.5% increase in orders and a 27% increase in conversion rates for new customers.
  • For every 100 milliseconds decrease in checkout page load speed, Mobify’s customers have seen a 1.55% lift in session-based conversion. This amounts to an average annual revenue increase of 526,147 dollars. So page load speed really is money in today’s online shopping universe.
  • Akamai has claimed 75% of the 1,058 people asked would not return to websites that took longer than four seconds to load. This really highlights the importance of a fast site.
  • According to a survey that was carried out by Akamai, about half of the interviewed shoppers – who have been buying online for more than two years or who spend more than $1,500 a year online – ranked page-loading time as a priority.
  • Further research by Akamai shows us that the majority of mobile users expect a web-browsing experience on their phone that is comparable to what they receive on their laptop or desktop.

Website Visitor Expectations

Based on the feedback of 1,048 online shoppers, Forrester Consulting has listed a number of key findings and facts regarding the expectations that clients have about the speed and loading times of websites and online stores.

  • 47 percent of the visitors and online buyers expect a website to load within two seconds.
  • 40 percent of consumers will wait no more than three seconds for a web page to render before abandoning the site.
  • 52 percent of online shoppers stated that quick page loading is an important or decisive factor when it comes to site loyalty.
  • Shoppers often get distracted if they have to wait more than a couple of seconds for a page to load. 14 percent will begin shopping at another site. 23 percent will even stop shopping altogether or walk away from their computer.
  • Underperforming sites and online stores loose clients. 79 percent of online shoppers who experience a dissatisfying visit are less likely to buy from that site again, whilst 64 percent would simply purchase their goods from another online store. Additional research from Akamai shows that dissatisfied online customers will also skip visits to the physical locations of the store that disappointed them with a bad experience on the web.

Google Rewards Website Speed

Speed also affects the ranking that a website receives in Google. Excellent loading speeds make it easier for web crawlers to analyze a website and the accompanying content.

The speed of a website or online store doesn’t only affect the organic rankings. It’s also a factor of importance when it comes to sponsored search results. The quality score that Google attaches to an AdWords campaign exemplifies this. The loading time of an ad’s landing page has a huge impact on the score that the online advertisement gets.

Measuring Website Loading Speed

Measuring the performance of a website in terms of speed and loading time is not always easy. Google Analytics will provide you with some basic insights. The problem is that Google Analytics doesn’t measure website speed and loading times in real-time.

Luckily, there are some other tools available for this job. Good tools to measure the speed of a website include:

  • Google PageSpeed Insights
  • Pingdom Tools – this one even allows users to check the loading times for every separate entity of a website
  • GTmetrix

Also read Savvii’s article on measuring loading time.

What Causes a Website to Slow Down?

This question has undoubtedly troubled the minds of many website owners. In reality, there are a lot of issues which can slow your website down. Some of the most common ones?

  • Slow logic app performances
  • Poorly performing database queries
  • Routing issues
  • Too much traffic
  • Lacking memory capacity
  • A flagrant mismatch between the size of a website and the way it is hosted

It’s always a good idea to analyze these problems thoroughly. It will be a lot easier to fix website performance issues once you have properly identified them.

Recommendations to Crank Up Website Loading Speeds

There are many ways to improve the performance and loading speed of web pages. I’ll provide the HostingJournalist.com visitors with some tips:

  • First of all, choose the proper hosting and hosting company for your particular site.
  • Optimize images and try to keep them small. A large image is going to take a long time to load. If you’ve got a ton of large images on your website, you are adding extra load time for every picture. It is not that hard these days to resize images without a whole lot of quality loss. Besides, images for the web don’t need the same resolution as photos that are used in prints or on wall-sized posters anyway to look vivid and eye-catchingly beautiful onscreen! If you use Photoshop, choose the option ‘Save for web’ before you upload images to your site or online store. Preferably use small formats like JPEG or PNG instead of heavy formats like TIFF or BMF.
  • Use CSS Stylesheets to load background images.
  • Check if all the Javascripts on your website are absolutely necessary. If this is not the case, get rid of them.
  • Say goodbye to underperforming and/or unnecessary plug-ins.

Conclusion

The research results are telling the story: in this day and age, slow websites are bad news. This rings true for all the different aspects that are associated with website speed: TTFB, render start and total loading time. A slow website, which takes four seconds or more to load, could cost you thousands of visitors and conversions. If you have an online store, the aforementioned could equal losing a big heap of money. The good news is that there are a lot of ways to give your site a speed boost. Do you want to make the best possible use of your website?

The full White Paper on website speed and page-loading times can be downloaded here.

About Savvii, Gijs Hovens

Savvii is a Managed WordPress Hosting provider from the Netherlands with global operations. The company is focused on Managed WordPress innovation with the latest hosting technologies as well as website speed. The company offers VPS Hosting based WordPress Hosting packages from the U.S. to Europe and Japan.

Gijs Hovens is marketing manager at Savvii. He started managing several WordPress websites ten years ago. He is responsible for Savvii’s SEO, SEA, prices and products and organizes the WordPress meet-up Nijmegen in the Netherlands.

For more information on Savvi, visit their website here.