According to Netcraft, there are now well over 644 million websites on the internet. It’s hard to say anything which hasn’t been said and certainly all-but-impossible to sell anything which can’t be bought on any number of competing websites with a few easy clicks.
Competition for online traffic is fierce. Internet users are agile and impatient and giving them reasons to leave your company website for a competitors’ is unwise and can be exceptionally expensive.
One of the leading reasons users will leave a webpage is if you make them… wait.
If a website doesn’t load within the generally accepted time limit of five seconds, any potential for a sale, a repeat sale down the line and/or a word of mouth referral to their network, is gone.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Google’s recent algorithm changes also have made site speed a factor in determining the quality of a website and therefore how they deliver it on applicable search terms. Now more than ever, ensuring your website is fast, responsive and faultless, is essential.
Check your speed
One of the best ways to get load time information is to use an online speed test website such as http://tools.pingdom.com/ or http://www.webpagetest.org/.
These sites will test a live page and provide detailed information on all the file requests made and load times. This can be a huge help in pinpointing exactly where a site is bottlenecking and give guidance on how to fix the issue.
What could be slowing you down?
1. Images and videos
Large image files and auto-play videos can use a vast amount of bandwidth to load.
With cameras now producing incredibly high resolution images and footage, they might well need to be resized, cropped or changed into a different format before uploading to your website.
Alternatively, selective images can be removed altogether or auto-play videos set to play only when requested. I personally find auto-play videos off-putting and, although great images are obviously a key to any great website, if they’re being overused and slowing down the process to a standstill, visitors will have jumped ship before they get a chance to see them.
2. HTML coding
Poorly-written HTML code can make a website sluggish as well as making it unappealing to search engines.
This should not be confused with poorly written text, which might well annoy a reader causing them to abandon your website, but it won’t affect load speed! A browser first reads and interprets code before displaying a website and therefore it’s essential to have this be cleanly written.
Understandably, most business owners don’t code their own website, so if all other avenues have been looked into, this is worth bringing to the attention of the website developer.
Make sure you’re with a reputable web host which provides a good connection and won’t squish you onto an overstuffed server where you’re battling for resources.
For businesses which experience high levels of web traffic and operate feature-rich websites, there are plenty of cost effective hosting solutions such as virtual private servers (VPS) or dedicated servers, which will provide ample scalable resources which will ensure rapid response times.
Abby Hardoon is the founder and CEO of web hosting provider Daily Internet.
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