Now the mobile-internet revolution is in full throttle and continuing to accelerate even further, fast load times for all sites, and particularly when seeking visitors on mobile devices, are crucial. Recent research by Doubleclick by Google into the impact on publisher revenues of page load speed on mobile found slow loading pages were considered a real frustration for users. However, take heart, because if you do have a site with slow loading webpages, you’re certainly not on your own. Doubleclick’s research found that “the average webpage took 19 seconds to load over a 3G connection” (Doubleclick, 2017). The study involved looking at over 10,000 websites to add to its credibility overall. The bad news is that over 53% of mobile pages visited in the study were abandoned if they took longer than 3 seconds to load (Doubleclick, 2017). That’s potentially a lot of lost revenue, and a negative first impression for new visitors to your website.
Working on optimising page load times can give you a real advantage over competitors, given the above averages. The spoils for those who make the extra effort to lighten the load for mobile visitors are potentially high. Again, Doubleclick’s research found that overall advertisers with web pages loading in under 5 seconds achieved x2 mobile ad revenue over sites with pages taking longer than 5 seconds to load. Bounce rates were much lower at only 35% and average sessions were on average 70% longer per visit (Doubleclick, 2017).
The search engine giant is planning to release ‘transcoding’ feature which loads webpages up faster on slow mobile connections. The problem is it strips away content will can leave your website looking bare and unprofessional.
Not only that, but researchers claim online users only have the patience to wait between one and four seconds for a page to load (depending on which report you read).
Essentially, all the signs point towards having a fast loading website. The key is to make your pages as lightweight as possible so here are a few tips of how you can easily achieve that.
Streamline HTTP requests
A webpage contains separate components, each of which has an HTTP request. The more components on your webpage, the longer it takes your webpage to load.
You can reduce the number of requests made to your server by streamlining components. Here’s how:
Resize and compress images
Large resolution images can put a strain on load times, but it is an easy fix by compressing the number of pixels and resizing the frame in Photoshop. However, this adds more admin time every time you post a blog article, but fortunately Google’s page speed plugin has a default compressor which fixes the images for you.
Prioritise load speed for above-the-fold content
A sneaky but neat little trick of speeding up your load times is to split your CSS stylesheet in two so that the top half of your webpage loads quickly. It doesn’t matter then if the lower portions of your website load a little slower.
Therefore, don’t include heavy content like high-res images or videos in your above fold content as this knocks down the text users have already started reading – and losing your place whilst reading is not a good user-experience.
Don’t overload plugins
Plugins are useful for all manner of things, but unfortunately they do slow down the load times of your website. Therefore, prioritise which plugins you really need and ditch those you don’t. Before you decide which plugins to lose, you may want to run server tests to determine which are the heaviest.
Reduce the number of redirects
Redirects require HTTP requests which as we established earlier increase load times. If you are redirecting mobile users to a responsive part of your website, use a HTTP redirect to send visitors to the equivalent URL rather than a standard redirect.
Alternatively, you can include a markup in your code to redirect users to the mobile equivalent URL.
If you know you need to improve load speeds, but are not sure what is weighing your site down, you can check page speed scores using Google’s Page Speed Insights.