How Website Loading Speed Affects Usability & Solutions For Slow Loading Sites

How Website Loading Speed Affects Usability & Solutions For Slow Loading Sites

Yes, website loading speed does matter. Faster loading of pages can mean more visits on your site resulting in better SEO.

It’s really important for new and experienced blogger to keep their website’s page load time as low as possible.

How Website Loading Speed Affects Usability & Solutions For Slow Loading Sites

According to the stats:

  • 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
  • A 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.
    • If an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1-second page delay could potentially cost $2.5 million.

Even Google has made it official:

How Website Loading Speed Affects Usability & Solutions For Slow Loading Sites
  • Page load speed is a search engine ranking parameter.

Check out this video from Matt Cutts talking about the importance of website loading speed:

How to find website loading speed:

  • Google Developers – Google Developers is an online page speed test site which provides some great insights on what you need to do to improve your site’s performance. You will get a score from 0-100. If you rank above 90, then you’re in good shape. Google can also tell you why your page is loading slowly and can suggest ways of how to improve.
  • Pingdom – Pingdom is another great tool to test a site’s speed. Pingdom also offers DNS health checks and a free alert service that notifies you when your website is up or down.
  • GTMetrix – GTMetrix provides a great analysis of a website by giving grades on both Page Speed and YSlow. In addition to measuring speed, this tool also gives you info about why your page speed is slow.
How Website Loading Speed Affects Usability & Solutions For Slow Loading Sites

How to improve website loading time:

So once we are done with website speed analysis, the next step is to make necessary changes to improve the website’s loading time.

This whole process starts with setting up a caching mechanism and implementing other working techniques to improve a website’s loading time speed.

Note: If you are using WordPress and W3 Total Cache, you should refer to this guide to see your page loading stats right on your WordPress dashboard.

Here are some techniques you can implement right now to speed up your site’s load time:

1. WordPress plugins to optimize performance and speed

 W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache is one of the best plugins out there to improve a site’s performance through caching.

Installing a cache plugin will improve your page’s load speed and overall performance.

  • Read: How To Configure The W3 Total Cache Plugin

You can also consider enabling CloudFlare and implementing a CDN using W3 Total Cache (see CDN section for details).

Image Compression Plugins

Every blogger should use images in his or her post to make the post more compelling. The problem, however, is that images can lead to increases in the page’s load time.

These image compression plugins reduce image file sizes, thereby reducing server load and improving page performance.

WP Optimize

As your blog grows older and you write more and more posts, you will automatically create more and more post revisions.

These post revisions may occupy a lot of space and could affect your website’s performance.

This plugin allows you to clean up your database and optimize it without a shred of technical knowledge needed.

2. Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A CDN is a high-performance network of servers that replicates the static assets of your website and serves them to visitors from the closest POP.

Well, that’s a highly technical definition.

Simply put:

A CDN has proxy servers located throughout the world. Wherever the visitor is coming from geographically is where the content will load from. This results in a much quicker serving of a website.

A CDN is one of the most effective ways to supercharge your website’s speed.

If you are new to Content Delivery Networks, check out this video presentation from MaxCDN which will give you an overview and an understanding of how CDNs work:

  • How To Use Dropbox As A Free CDN
  • How To Boost WordPress Sites Using RackSpace Cloud Files

3. Put scripts at the bottom

If you are not script savvy, then I would not recommend this tip to you.

But if you know what you’re doing, read on…

The reason behind putting the scripts at the bottom is so that you load all script-related files after your content is loaded; your visitors won’t see a blank page while your Javascript is loading.

Since there are not any specific plugins available to deal with scripts, you yourself have to play around with them. Google Page Speed and GTMetrix can give you insights about the scripts causing delays in page loading.

  • Best Practices For Speeding Up A Site

4. CSS Sprites

CSS Sprites reduces the number of HTTP requests that the browser has to make.

Example:

If you combine 4 images into one big image, the number of image requests will be reduced. This will automatically result in an increase in page load speed.

If you are not a coding expert, I recommend you check out spriteme.org, and try to figure out how CSS Sprites works.

  • 9 Free Online CSS Sprites Generatorsr

5. Utilize browser caching

The idea behind browser caching is to set an expiry date, or a maximum age limit, in the HTTP headers for static resources. If caching is enabled, browsers will automatically load previously downloaded static resources (like images, CSS, Javascript, pdf files, etc.) from local disks rather than over the network.

Though W3 Total Cache has settings for browser caching, it won’t do the job up to the mark.

There is a script available on various sites that might help you to set expirations for various types of files. You have to edit .htaccess on an Apache server in your root folder. 

Paste this code at the beginning of your .htaccess file:

ExpiresActive On
ExpiresByType text/html M3600
ExpiresByType text/css M3600
ExpiresByType application/x-javascript M3600
ExpiresByType image/bmp M3600
ExpiresByType image/gif M3600
ExpiresByType image/x-icon M3600
ExpiresByType image/jpeg M3600

5. Use powerful hosting

How Website Loading Speed Affects Usability & Solutions For Slow Loading Sites

Web-hosting is another likely culprit for your slow loading website, and you should consider checking your hosting performance via Host-tracker.

If you are on WordPress, I recommend SiteGround for shared hosting (they have a fantastic server for WordPress). If you are looking for high-end managed WordPress hosting, you should definitely go for Kinsta (where ShoutMeLoud is hosted).

6. Optimize more and more

One of the major reasons for slow loading of a site is 3rd party scripts.

Here’s an exercise:

Check your site’s loading speed with the Facebook fan box widget enabled, and then with it disabled. Is there any noticeable difference in site loading time?

Similarly, remove all ads and see if there’s a difference in your site’s loading time.

If your 3rd party ad network is taking ages to load, it’s time to make a shift to a new ad network, or you can ask your ad manager to upgrade the server.

Also, if you are using widgets, I would suggest you try getting rid of them and only put them back up when your site loads quickly. Try to give a better user experience by offering a faster loading website.

Also, check out our earlier guide on creating a user-friendly website.

Final words

Though page load speed matters, it has limited advantages. There are many websites which score less than 90 in the Google Page Speed test but are still top-ranked in their niche.

Page loading is just one of the various search engine ranking factors, and while a “decent” page load time is acceptable, why not aim to provide readers with a better experience?

If you have a large number of followers, they will likely to wait for your page to load, but new and professional bloggers should aim to meet the needs of their visitors as best as possible.

Your visitors want to enjoy the quality of your content, and by delivering it in the most optimal way possible, you can enjoy an ever-increasing quantity of visitors.

How do you optimize your page load speed? Let me know if you’ve tried out any of these methods and which one(s) worked the best for you. Or are you doing something that’s not on this list? Let me know in the comments!

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