Although there are millions of WiFi hotspots around most cities and towns these days, many mobile users still use their 3G and 4G data connections. In this case, larger pages can still take a significant amount of time to load.
Page speed is one of the more noticeable reasons why users choose not to purchase from a website, so, a slow loading time might be costing you money.
On mobile, this is even more important because the same page will load far slower than on a desktop. It’s unlikely that mobile networks will ever catch up with wired internet and that’s, even more, reason to be careful about your page size.
One of the biggest culprits causing a large page size is images. Many websites load an image that is far bigger than the one that is shown, scaling down the full image to show a smaller image.
The problem with this is that you’re asking the user to download a much larger file, but then telling them to only show a small version of it. Instead, you should scale down your images before you upload them to your server.
This will allow you to serve the same sized image as it shown on the page, preventing you from adding extra size to the page for no reason. Just this simple change could cut some of the slowest pages loading times in half, or even more.
Another problem is when websites serve images in their highest quality. Of course, in some cases, this is a good idea but the large majority of the time there is no need. In fact, most people won’t be able to tell any difference unless they look closely, especially not on mobile.
So, we would recommend that you serve 50-60% quality images. This will cut the size of the image in half and therefore drastically reduce the size of the overall page. With a smaller page, the user will be able to load it much quicker and will, therefore, be more likely to purchase.
Those are the two biggest changes you can make to the size of the page, but you can also make changes to the servers to also improve the load time.
Firstly, we would recommend that you use a VPS hosting plan. A VPS is a virtual private server, which means that you receive a partition of a server which nobody else can access. This way you are guaranteed the speeds that you’re paying for.
Many businesses operate on shared plans, which are fine to start with but can seriously impact your load time. With a shared plan a lot of websites will all be utilizing the same server, which means another website with many requests can slow down your load time.
A VPS is highly recommend and can have a substantial impact on your load time if you’re moving from a shared service. If you’re receiving a huge amount of traffic, then you might even consider upgraded to a dedicated server, this way you’ll get all the resources of the entire machine.
Secondly, make sure that your website is using browser caching. Browser caching tells the users mobile phone or computer to store the files so that the user doesn’t have to keep downloading the same files over and over.
For example; most websites will have their logo on every page of their website. Without browser caching the user will download your logo on each page. With browser caching, the device will recognize that it already has the file and will skip it, saving the user data and cutting the load time down.
Browser caching is unlikely to have a huge difference on the load time, but for repeat users, it can be noticeable. Either way, there is little to no impact to you as a business owner and implementing it is free and simple.
It’s important not to disregard load speed. Some designers have the mentality that because our internet speeds have increased so much over the past few years that they can get away with serving larger pages.
To some extent, this might be true, but in most cases, it seems that people have just become even more impatient. Whereas in the past they might have expected a page to load in less than 5 seconds, studies now show that 47% of people expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
With internet speeds continuing to increase it’s likely that this number will drop drastically and soon users will expect a near instantaneous load. Many of the top sites have noticed this trend and are already loading pages in 200 – 300ms, that’s almost too fast for us to notice really.
Bare in mind; these are sites with interactive elements, images, videos and other web 2.0 features. As a web designer, you should be striving to be in the top 1% of site speeds.
It’s not just because users are becoming less patient, the page speed has a correlation to Google rankings and also to conversion rate.
Google workers have already admitted that one of the over 200 factors that they use to rank web page is page speed. Some SEOs might argue that it’s only a small ranking factor, but with the current trends in mobile usage and speed, it’s likely to become more important in the future.
Most businesses owner know how powerful and desirable Google rankings can be. Overnight you can see thousands of targeted visitors on your website, rushing over themselves to hand you their money.
With this in mind, any business that cares about SEO should have page speed as one of their top design priorities. It’s not good enough just to look great; you need to look great and deliver fast.
Once those users click on your link in the Google search results page, they expect a quick load time. In fact, studies have shown that there is a sharp decline in conversion rate as the average site load time increased.
Although it’s hard to interpret these results properly without looking at the websites that were included in the test and the conversions, it’s likely that speed played a role. Put it this way, would you trust a website that loads extremely slowly?
Does that seem like a company that you want to hand over your credit card details to? Probably not. We put trust in companies that can perform efficiently, and we don’t trust those that can’t. Knowing that it’s clear that page speed can have a direct impact on your conversion rate and therefore your revenue.
Given that improving your page speed is relatively easy and cheap, it would be silly for any business to not optimize their website for a better load time.
Consider an App
If you notice that you’re getting a substantial amount of traffic from mobile and tablet users, then you might even decide to create your app. Many websites have done this, and it’s a great way to provide a dedicated mobile experience that rivals your desktop website.
It’s near impossible to deliver the same website on mobile as you can through an app. You get much more functionality and control over how the elements work and look on the device, giving you the flexibility to make a better design.
Not only that but with apps, you will often get control over their notifications. This can be used to let the user know about updates, sales and changes in your products or services. This is an intimate marketing channel and can have a significant impact on the number of products that they purchase.
The main reason why businesses don’t create their app is that they are expensive and the number of people using them is low. It’s a pain for users to download an app just to view one website unless they use that website multiple times per week.
You should think carefully about how your users use your website and why. Are they sticking around for long periods of time or do they get the information and then leave? This will be the deciding factor on whether you need a dedicated app or not.