Why Site Performance is Crucial for UX
An organisation's website is the most important and influential digital marketing tool it possesses.
It's crucial that it performs to its maximum potential; honing website architecture, UI, and marketing strategies are essentially pointless if a website’s performance levels are sub-par.
It is key to both consumer gain, retention, and satisfaction that website speed is as fast as possible.
If you lose customer trust via poor performance, it is guaranteed to have a detrimental effect on your brand, which plays into the hands of your competitors who will be more than happy to pick up the users you lose.
Increase Website Speed & Outpace Your Competitors
The Need for Speed is real; a faster website speed is a major factor in improving conversion rates and boosting consumer satisfaction.
Whether your business is the new kid on the block, or is a fully established presence, there’s no excuse when it comes to maintaining performance. A highly-functioning site improves brand awareness no matter the stature of a business.
The perpetual battle to come out on top of search engine rankings is a hard one; Take Google for instance, their ‘Speed Update’ ranking factor is centred on page performance.
Google drops pages in its search rankings that have slower load times. All the wonderful content you’ve produced may be in vain as Google sends you down the SERPs, and in Google’s SERPs case – if you’re not first, you’re last.
According to search engine giant, Google, a page should take no longer than 3 seconds to load.
Optimise Content & Reduce Pogo Sticking
Pogo Sticking is something every website owner should look to avoid when maintaining website performance. If it was a family affair, then bounce rate and pogo sticking would be definitely related, but they’re not one and the same.
Pogo sticking is a term to describe when a user clicks on a search page link, then returns to the search results page very quickly to then choose a different result.
A high bounce rate isn’t completely detrimental to a website, it may simply mean a visitor didn’t traverse the website after spending time on the results page.
Whereas the bounce rate is literally defined as ‘the percentage of visitors who visit a single page on a website’.
However, pogo sticking will invariably have consequences for a website.
When a page frequently buckles to pogo sticking, search engines deduce the content was irrelevant to the user’s search query and slide them down the rankings for the searched keywords.
Pogo Sticking is a term to describe when a user clicks on a search page link, then returns to the search results page very quickly ot then choose a different result.
How to Test Website Performance
The best way to measure your website performance is to analyse how your website’s behaviour and response times during multiple situations. Poor speed, stability, and content can be easily identified and optimised once every website intricacy is visible.
There are hundreds of website speed testers on the internet. Google PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom are good examples of a service that easily tests page load time, locates bottlenecks, and elaborates on where websites can specifically be optimised.
Stability can be judged upon how a site performs during higher web traffic than usual; it’s imperative that your servers can handle both speed and the numbers of customers.
Ideally, you should know exactly the maximum amount of users your website can handle at once before it times out. It’s easier to judge from there how and what software or optimisation you can implement to combat instability.
It’s also important to clarify if your web pages are mobile friendly – Google’s mobile-friendly test is available online for free here.
A ‘mobile-unfriendly’ design is also easily identifiable by loading your website across multiple browsers, such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Microsoft Edge. Usually, if one browser noticeably performs to a lower standard than the others, it means that there is a design fault.
5 Web Optimisation Performance Tips
01.＿ Image Optimisation
A common oversight right under a website’s nose is always image optimisation.
According to the HTTP archive, images make up over 60% of a website’s page weight.
There are many image compression websites online, so utilise them and save precious KB that prevent your website from running at its maximum potential.
02.＿ Reduce HTTP Requests to Increase Website Speed
Site load speeds are influenced by the volume of HTTP requests a user’s browser has to make. If a website stores a lot of files, then a browser is forced to require more HTTP requests. More HTTP requests will influence how long the website will take to load.
Large file sizes will subsequently take even longer to load on a user’s browser, which is arguably the biggest turn off (and pogo-sticking cause) for UX.
According to KISSmetrics, “47% of consumers expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less, and 40% abandon a website that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.”
Reflecting upon those statistics, it’s safe to assume that any website over 2 seconds is being disregarded by users, especially those browsing via mobile.
03. ＿ Minify CSS & JS
Performing load tests can determine a system’s performance under real-time loading conditions.
The minification of CSS, JS, and HTML code entails removing any surplus characters from within a file to scale down its size in order to make the website load faster.
A few examples of what is commonly removed during the minification process are whitespace characters, comments, line breaks, block delimiters.
By minifying your files, it effectively minimises the amount of data transfer required, compression results are boosted, and most importantly for the UX - files will run much quicker in a user’s browser, keeping both Google’s search engines and clients happy.
04.＿ Minimise Latency via a Content Delivery Network
Another example of a load testing method; Network latency is defined by the duration it takes for requests from a user’s browser to travel to a receiver’s server.
Causes of high Network Latency can range from Transmission Mediums, Routers, Storage Delays, and Propagation.
Luckily, there are also several techniques that can successfully reduce latency that will aid in loading web materials faster and accelerating that crucial page load time for users.
Whilst it’s definitely a procedure that can benefit website speeds, latency is not an issue we can dispose of entirely. Minimise it to the best of your ability and keep those page load times as efficient as possible.
Network Latency is defined by the duration it takes for requests from a user's browser to travel to a receiver's server. Causes of high Network Latency can range from Transmission Mediums, Routers, Storage Delays, & Propagation.
05. ＿ Cache It If You Can
Caching is a widespread technique of web performance optimisation so as to boost website speeds.
For high-traffic websites, Server-Side Caching is guaranteed to improve website performance and scalability.
Utilise a caching HTTP reverse proxy, front-end accelerator like Varnish® Cache – capable of increasing both speed & server performance. In Varnish’s case, it can assist by removing files that sporadically change like CSS and JS, in turn easing the load on the origin server, enabling it to prioritise & perform more beneficial requests.
As a result, the server is able to render pages at a faster rate, since it’s not producing static content upon each reload.
Browser Caching concerns a visitor’s browser downloading and storing a website’s materials, i.e. your HTML files, JS files, and images, directly to their local drive. This increases page load times during navigation upon arrival, successive visits and simultaneously lowers bandwidth usage.
Wondering how to leverage browser caching? Simply edit your HTTP headers to set expiry times for different variations of files.
Try implementing a minimum expiry of one month, and disregard setting caches over a year in advance.
A few seconds can make all the difference; but a few milliseconds is detrimental enough to lower conversion rates, plummet your search engine rankings, and completely tarnish your overall UX.
Don’t underestimate the importance of image optimisation; we have discussed ‘Mobile-First’ website and how all images should be responsive. An overindulgence of images on web pages relate closely to page load time, so keep it minimal at first and add more extensive features later once your site is up and running smoothly, providing a fluid UX.
All your hard work developing, designing, and writing meaningful content will prove fruitless if you’re not prepared to invest in performance optimisation.
Here at Sherwen, we can implement and manage your web optimisation needs to ensure sustained and increased conversion rates, optimal website speeds, and keep page load times as minimal as possible.
Contact us below for a free consultation.