Why You Should Improve Your Website Page Speed (and How)

Written by Chad Wolcott

We live in a world of instant gratification. Hungry? Order some fast food. Run out of an essential product? Amazon’s got a 2-hour delivery option. Short on time? Send a text message. Need information? Why wait? 

Things that took previous generations weeks to accomplish can now be completed in a matter of minutes and, like it or not, we have become intolerant of waiting. The truth is, we expect our resources to support this impatience. It’s no different online. 

In fact, did you know that:

Think about the last time you encountered a slow-loading webpage. What was your response? If you’re like most of us, the information on that page became less important with every passing second. Did you stick it out or bounce? If you stayed, did it negatively affect the way you perceived the page or business? 

Needless to say, website page speed is extremely important to your customers’ satisfaction. Additionally, did you know that Google utilizes site speed as a ranking factor in its search algorithm? 

Sluggish page speed on your website could be weakening every point in your sales funnel. In other words, a slow website = fewer customers.

What is Page Speed?

In a nutshell, page speed is the measurement of how fast the content on your website loads. 

The most common way to evaluate page speed is via Google’s Page Speed Insights. While not exhaustive, this resource provides a great snapshot of your website’s performance. It provides data on a couple of important, user-centric speed metrics like first contentful paint, or FCP & first input delay, or FID (see definitions at bottom of page) and offers helpful suggestions to help your page load faster. 

What is a Good Page Speed?

Because we are using Page Speed Insights as our foundation, it is important to mention their recommendations for page speed load time (in terms of FCP). 

< 1 second = Fast
1 second – 3 seconds = Moderate
> 3 seconds = Slow

In line with this, Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller recommended aiming for a page that loads within 2-3 seconds.

Furthermore, Martin Splitt, Developer Relations at Google answered this way: “Just make sites fast for users, that’s what it boils down to.”

“We don’t really have a threshold to give away but basically the recommendation I would say is: just make sites fast for users, that’s what it boils down to.

How to Increase Page Speed

There are a number of actions you can do to improve your page’s load time with varying degrees of technicality. 

That said if you aren’t very technical (and use WordPress) and would prefer to install a plugin to help with page speed, here are a few we recommend.

  • Paid: A performance optimization and caching plugin like WP Rocket paired with an image optimization plugin like Imagify
  • Free: A plugin to optimize HTML, CSS, and JavaScript like Autoptimize + a caching plugin like WP Super Cache

Beyond that, here are some of the ways to increase your page speed, from most technical to least.

Reduce or Defer JavaScript

Minimizing JavaScript code on your website will increase page speed by eliminating what is known as “code bloat.”

If you simply can’t avoid Javascript, adding it after the “above-the-fold” content is rendered can provide a smoother load and help improve customer experience.  As the top content is loaded first, the user will be able to view and engage with the website while the browser finishes loading the Javascript code below.

Compress HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

Use GZIP, a software application for file compression, to minify your CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files.

Redirect Properly

If you have to do redirects, avoid doing them in the backend of your CMS (ie. via a plugin). Your site will be faster if you do redirects in the .htaccess file

Leverage Browser Caching

Caching improves and speeds up browsing. Once you’ve downloaded an asset, it lives on your computer, for a predetermined amount of time. To enable browser caching you need to edit your headers to set expiry times for certain types of files. More on that here.

Optimize Images and Video

Reducing the size of an image or video and using the right format for the job (for example, PNG’s for graphics, JPEG for photography) can go a long way in improving the load time of your webpage. There are a number of tools that allow you to do this manually and several plugins that can help automate the process. 

Consider “lazy loading” as well to defer the loading of images and videos that aren’t currently needed on the page.

Consider different hosting provider or a content distribution network

Make sure you choose a web host with a solid track record. Putting a fast website on a slow server is going to result in slow load times, no matter how optimized.

Content distribution networks (CDNs) are networks of servers that are used to distribute the load of delivering content. As such, they provide users faster, more reliable access to your site. Cloudflare is generally considered to be the best option in this field.

Speed Up Your Web Presence With PHOS Creative

Page Speed is a metric that can always be improved upon and requires regular monitoring and support. As it is so important to Google and your customers, it’s a good decision to partner with someone you can trust and has a track record of success in this arena.

At PHOS creative, our development process is built upon a custom framework intelligently designed to make websites fast, responsive, secure, and easy to manage. 

 

Definitions
Bounce Rate – The percentage of visitors that open a website and leave before spending a significant amount of time.
First Contentful Paint – The point in the page load when the visitor can first see something (text or image) on the screen.
First Meaningful Paint – The time it takes for the main content of a page to become visible.
First Input Delay – Measures the time from when a visitor first interacts with a page to the time they actually receive a response. Essentially, a measurement of the first impression of your site. 
Website Conversion – a visitor to your website completes a desired action, such as contacting your business or making a purchase.

Chad Wolcott

Chad utilizes his diverse background in sales and marketing to help our customers win. As an inbound marketing executive, Chad marries his love for telling incredible digital stories and his strong focus on results to help clients increase the metrics that matter.