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Speed optimization and converting users to customers in the next digital era

Speed optimization

The internet age brings with it one absolute guarantee: file sizes are increasing, and content quality is improving. The result is that page load-time is under threat, and your online shop or startup faces real risk.

The Aberdeen Group reports that a 1-second delay in page load-time leads to:

  • 11% fewer page views
  • 16% decrease in customer satisfaction
  • 7% loss in conversions

Amazon agrees. They report that a 100-millisecond improvement to their site speed resulted in a 1% revenue increase, while Walmart produced a 2% increase in conversions for every 1 second of improvement.

Kissmetrics (https://blog.kissmetrics.com/loading-time) is stating that:

  • 47% of mobile users expect a page load-time of 2 seconds or less.
  • 40% of them will abandon a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
  • A $100,000 per day e-commerce site will lose $2.5million per year for every 1-second page delay.

Users expect to enjoy speedy and ever-improving digital experiences – and by speedy we mean that, if your page takes longer than 3 seconds to load, your user will venture elsewhere. Businesses suffer when their websites are slow. It’s that simple. Page views decline, bounce rates escalate, conversions and revenue diminish.

Web developers are faced with the task of ensuring optimised web performance and maintenance to avoid disappointing (and hence losing) users and customers. This needs to take place alongside the challenges and complications outside of the developer’s control, like aging user hardware or bandwidth issues, which contribute to poor user experiences.

Speed optimization is always a strategic priority

You might feel tempted to take a passive stance on this issue in regions like the US, where internet connections are generally fast and furious. But regardless of this fact, speed and UX optimisation is a crucial area for your digital business. Why? Because speed optimisation is not just about the rate of content down or upload! It is also about offering a superior experience to your competitors who are vying for the attention of the same user. So, maximising SEO, ensuring the highest conversion rates possible, and offering users a best-in-class experience, are just as important in highly developed areas. Also, optimising our code, and decreasing file sizes as a result, leads to a decreased host and user (think mobile data) bandwidth costs.

5 pointers that will help you to build a high performance site

The good news is that, with optimised coding for enhanced performance, reduced file sizes, and efficient rendering of our pages in the user’s browser, we are able to mitigate the problem.

Polybrain.io applies some of the following techniques to achieve speed and UX optimisation:

First – compress those bulky files

Compression, which is nothing more than zipping them through a commonly used tool such as Gzip, will reduce the bandwidth of your pages (and hence your HTTP response time). Yahoo says that this alone can reduce download time by 70%.

Second – turn on browser caching

Basically, enabling browser caching means that when a user visits your site for the first time, the elements on your page will be downloaded and temporarily cached (stored) on their hard drive. When they visit your site again, their browser will load the page without having to send HTTP requests to your server to download HTML, stylesheets, javascript files, and images.

This download alone could include as many as 30 components, and an additional download time of 2.5 seconds. An estimated 50% of users will be first-timers, so best this is enabled to offer them optimised usage in the future.

Third – keep that design tidy and lean

Your web page is broken down into components and pieces. The bulk of the page’s load-time is made up of downloading these components – images, Flash, stylesheets, and the like. So the quickest way to reduce load-time is to keep the design as clean as possible. You can achieve this by:

  • Minimising the number of elements
  • Using CSS rather than images
  • Merging your stylesheets
  • Reducing your scripts and placing them at the bottom of the page
  • Optimizing your images in terms of size, format and Src attributes

Fourth – streamline server response

By rights you should aim for a server response of at most 200-milliseconds. To achieve this, you should use a web application monitoring solution (such as Yslow) that allows you to identify performance bottlenecks. Google’s page-speed tools will further enable this process.

Fifth – Keep redirects to a minimum

Redirects equal increased HTTP requests. HTTP requests increase load-time. For a responsive website, you will need to have redirects in place to take mobile users from your main site to the responsive version. This can be streamlined by removing intermediate redirects and sending mobile user agents directly to the mobile equivalent (but please ensure that Googlebot can discover your mobile pages!).

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