You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, or so they say. This is as true of virtual encounters—which, in this case, is when someone logs onto your website—as it is of interactions in the ‘real world’.
Nothing is more impressive to a potential client or customer than a website that is user-friendly and fast. In addition to a simple and ‘intuitive’ interface, the speed at which your pages load conveys—rightly or wrongly—an impression of your company’s efficiency levels. What it does imply is a client or customer-first attitude on the company’s part and a commitment to ensuring ease of business.
The following are some measures you can take to weed out elements that might be choking loading speed on your website and preventing website optimization.
Step 1: Speedy diagnoses First, establish your current website load time by running a website load test. There are a number of free tools you can use to do this, such as PageSpeedTools and webpagetest.
Research reveals that even a 1 second delay in loading time can cost an organization dearly, and trigger a downturn in conversion rates (7% loss), number of page views (11% drop), and customer satisfaction (16% fall). Sites that calculate conversion-losses—like GlobalDots—provide businesses with a monetary estimate of what a drop in such key performance parameters is costing them.
Step 2: Compressed is best The expression “travel light” applies not just to suitcases but to websites as well. The more compact and ‘light-weight’ your content and imagery, the faster they can travel or manifest themselves. It is said that a picture ‘speaks a thousand words’, and well it should. What is shouldn’t do is weigh a thousand words. To lighten the image load,
- Compress and scale your images. To compress your images, you can use Google’s Page Speed plugin. Once you’ve compressed your images, save them on your desktop and then scale them using Photoshop. You can determine the appropriate size based on what your HTML code can accommodate. Doing this will radically cut down on any server lags, as the images will be easier to transmit.
- Merge images using CSS sprites. You can use this approach to combine all the images that you want to load onto the same page, so that they all load together as one unit.
To streamline and slim down your code you can,
Step 3: Small is beautiful You can follow up steps 1 and 2, by compressing your entire website using Gzip. Most web browsers support gzip, and doing so can lower your response time by 70%.
Step 4: Hope of deliverance Content delivery networks or CDNs can also reduce response time. These networks are essentially a matrix of servers situated in multiple locales, making it that much easier to upload information when in the vicinity of that locale/area. While technical glitches can impair your virtual presence and performance, the same technology can be used to repair these glitches. Go ahead: fight fire with fire!