Site Speed: Don’t lose your site visitors in the “one-second difference”

Apr 2 2018
By Proteus in Insights

Site speed refers to how quickly users are able to see and interact with content on your webpage. For most sites, this is a difference of a few seconds for loading content. But despite how short that may seem, a slow site speed kills your potential conversion rate.

We as a society have become much less patient when it comes to surfing the web. In the days of dial-up internet and the broadband “digital divide” between rural and urban areas, loading took time. Google’s recent web performance research shows that 53% of mobile site visitors will leave a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. The abandonment percentage increases with each passing second.

If your site’s content loading time doesn’t meet user expectations, you better believe that your potential client’s next search (for your competitor) will. According to Akamai, a popular content delivery network service provider, 78% of online visitors who experience issues with website performance say they won’t go to the site again, and 44% would tell their friends about that poor experience.

Your site may seem fast, but you visit your site all the time, and as a result, the data has previously loaded on your device and is stored in your cache, making the load faster.

Cache is a software component within your browser used to store information temporarily in a computing environment so future requests for that data can be served faster. But for new visitors to your site, they do not have anything cached, so data loading will be much slower.

Imagine someone asks you a question. For example, who is the highest scoring player in NBA history? The majority of us wouldn’t know this answer without first consulting Google, which would take some time to enter into a search engine. Once you complete your search, you will have the answer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Now, imagine someone asking you that same question immediately after. The answer would come much more quickly to you because you searched for and remembered the answer moments ago.

This example translates to your website’s response time. The first time a person visits your site it takes some time for the computer to “give the answer.” The next time that same person goes to your site, the computer can produce the webpage much faster, as the content has loaded previously. The cache saves that data from the first visit and can therefore reproduce it much more quickly the second time around.

Having this information in your device’s cache speeds up the site for frequent visitors - but may not give you a good idea of how new visitors experience your site. In order to see how your site responds to a first-time visitor you can try clearing your web browser cache.

For a more comprehensive overview of your site speed (taking into account different types of browsers and different levels of connectivity - such as mobile networks) as a Proteus client, you have the opportunity to simply reach out to Proteus support.

Now that you understand site speed, one significant way you can speed up your website is by optimizing images.

Images account for a large amount of both visual and virtual space on your site and therefore take the most time to download. But, this also means that images present the largest opportunity to enhance the speed and performance of your site.

Progressive Images - JPEG vs. PNG

These image file types have different benefits and drawbacks. JPEGs work much better for complex color photographs. It’s much easier to get a higher quality image with a smaller file size. However, JPEGs don’t have transparency, that is where PNGs come in. This file type works really well for limited color images like graphics or charts. The transparency allows for these graphics to be placed on a webpage without the burden of a white background.

A good rule of thumb is if you are not in need of a transparent background, consider changing your image format to JPEG. You could also consider adding the same color background of your webpage to the image so it can be formatted as a JPEG.

Image Size - High Resolution

Images often begin much bigger than is needed for the available display area. Images can contain massive amount of pixels, which attributes to the increased load time. There are several free tools you can use for optimizing images through image compression. This shrinks JPEG and PNG images to the minimum possible size, while keeping the required level of quality.

If these changes cause your image to lose quality, consider reverting back or contacting Proteus support to review the cause of the loss of quality. It’s helpful to review all your images before uploading to your site to ensure correct file type and quality.

At Proteus, we are always happy to help you obtain your best web performance. These kinds of enhancements will improve your page loading speed and your potential customer base.

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