This text will take the average internet user about two seconds to read. The average internet user also expects pages to load within two seconds.
It only takes a couple seconds for something to start feeling like an inconvenience. This is because we’re so used to fast internet speeds. Websites spend a lot of time and resources making sure their pages load as fast as possible.
Page speed is important for everything related to your website, from how users perceive it, to how many conversions you get, to how much revenue you make. Whether your website is an online store, a business website, or a blog, every page needs to load quickly, because slow loading times can ruin your entire online business.
To ensure your website is performing optimally, you must consider speed and performance from the outset of the design process and monitor it regularly. Website performance is a complex topic, and improving it requires a deep understanding of the factors that can make a website fast or slow.
What is Website Performance?
Website performance is a measure of how quickly webpages load in a browser. Web performance optimization is the practice of improving website performance by making pages load faster. Faster loading websites are said to be higher-performing.
Making sure your website loads quickly is important for a successful website. A slow loading website will make users unhappy and less likely to continue using the site.
Why Website Performance Matters
Many internet users have experienced slow websites. While this might only be a minor annoyance, the effects of poor performance can have a negative impact on an entire business, including user satisfaction and the company’s bottom line. Therefore, it is important for websites to meet speed benchmarks.
The main goal for any online businesses is to improve the user experience (UX). This means that all website design choices, including speed, should be chosen with the goal of creating a positive UX.
The user experience (UX) on your website plays a role in every other aspect of your website. In other words, if your website is slow, your visitors will have a poor experience. And if your visitors have a poor experience, your online business will suffer as well. On the flip side, a website that performs well will improve the UX, leave visitors with a positive impression, and encourage them to come back.
At what speed do you need to be going to have a good experience?
Around 2010, Google said that a web page must load in two seconds or less for a positive user experience. This is still a widely accepted standard today.
Don’t worry if you’re website seems slow to load compared to others. Most websites take 1-2 seconds to load their content on average. Although this may seem like a lot, it is achievable for almost any website with a bit of extra work.
When users engage with a website, they expect to feel in control. Visitors want websites to deliver exactly what they request as quickly as possible. The average user can wait at most three seconds before feeling disrupted and losing control.
As time goes on, we have become used to websites that work well. This makes it hard for small website owners to compete: When someone visits a page for the first time, they don’t compare its load time to other similar sites. Instead, they compare it to the average of all the websites they have seen, including those with whole teams devoted to making them run quickly.
While it may seem daunting to increase the speed of your website, it is possible to make some changes that will have a big impact. We will soon explore the factors that contribute to slow loading times.
The goal of website design is to capture visitor interest when the page loads, but if the website is slow to load, people will leave.
It’s good that we can choose the best website for our needs, but it’s not so great if you have a high bounce rate. To keep visitors, especially first-time visitors, your website needs to meet their performance expectations.
Conversions and Sales
A website’s performance has a big impact on conversions and sales. Things like how satisfied visitors are with your site play a role in whether they’ll do things like download content, join an email list, or make a purchase.
. How your website loads is closely related to how much money your business makes. A slight decrease in speed can mean that people will leave your website instead of converting, costing you money.
A conversion that is not gained by you is a conversion that is gained by a competitor – in this case, a competitor with a faster website. This is even more of a reason to prioritize speed.
If you discovered a new restaurant and stopped there for lunch, only to notice that the front door was busted, you might think to yourself “No big deal, they’ll fix it soon.” However, if you returned the next week and the door was still broken, you might start to wonder about the establishment.
Although the front door issue is minor, it may bother you and make you presume things about the restaurant. You may think that if the restaurant can’t fix the front door, then the food quality may not be good.
A slow website will damage your credibility and brand image because visitors will think your site is unsafe or illegitimate.
Brand perception is a topic that will be discussed in another post. However, it is safe to assume that if a brand has a poor perception, it will impede its growth in a competitive online space.
Image Optimization Tips to Improve Website Speed
This section covers various aspects of image optimization, including image format, file size, resolution and more.
Choose the Correct File Format
When optimizing images, the first thing to consider is the image format. There are two main types of image formats: vector and raster.
There are various types of vector file formats, such as SVG, PDF, EPS, and AI. Vector images are usually good for illustrating images that are a combination of lines, points, and colors, like logos and icons. The main advantage of vector images is that you can scale them without loss of quality.
Raster images are based on pixels, which makes them dependent on resolution. This means that when raster images are resized, they lose quality and become blurry or pixelated. Raster image file formats include JPEG, PNG, GIF, and RAW.
The file formats that work well on nearly all browsers and can be edited on most image editing software are the most common ones.
The most popular image file format, JPEGs, is supported by nearly all devices and operating systems. This is because JPEG images are relatively small, and don’t slow down web page load times. They are also quicker to upload or transfer.
Both baseline and progressive JPEGs are good at preserving color, but because JPEGs are lossy, the smaller the file size, the lower the quality. Quality is decreased each time a JPEG is edited because data is lost.
This means that the format will not work well on images that require continuous adjustments and contain text. The text will be difficult to read after reducing the file size.
GIFs are not as high quality as other raster images because they only display 256 colors. Even though GIFs are not the right format for images that require a large range of colors, they have benefits such as transparency, line drawings, small file sizes, and text.
The GIF image format is ideal for creating animations, which can be highly engaging content.
This image format loads quickly and uses less bandwidth, making it a good choice for sharing simple images on banner ads, blogs, and social media.
PNG (Portable Network Graphics)
PNG files are a popular file format for website images because they can have up to 256 colors and support partially transparent images. They are also more efficient at capturing color information than GIFs and displaying higher quality than JPEG images.
When creating images that need smooth color transitions, like logos, icons, and simple illustrations, PNG files are a great option.
The PNG format is a good choice for images that contain a lot of text, such as screenshots, infographics, and banners. However, since this file format is larger than JPEG, using too many PNG files will slow down your page load time.
Google has developed a new image format that improve lossless and lossy image compression. WebP combines characteristics of other popular web image formats, like replacing GIFs for animations and PNGs for transparency.
Several Content Management Systems platforms do not support the WebP format, but it will be possible to upload WebP images to the media library for users running a WordPress site using WordPress 5.8 or higher versions.
Compress Your Image Files
Although smaller image files take up less space, they usually have poorer image quality.
Image compression not only saves storage and bandwidth, but also speeds up page loads and downloads for visitors.
Compressing images for a website without sacrificing quality means considering the image’s content, color gradients, and detail complexity.
The advantage of using raster files over vector images is that you can use either lossy or lossless compression techniques.
Lossy compression means that some data is removed from the image to make the file size smaller.
Several image editing programs, including Adobe Photoshop, come with image compression tools. When compressing your images, ensure to implement the following best practices:
- Compress images before the upload. It is best to compress images before uploading them to your site. It helps you save disk space and speed up the upload process.
- Automate the image compression process. If you’re dealing with a handful of images, automatic compression may not be a priority. However, it is a great alternative when you need to compress a large number of images simultaneously – saving you a lot of time. Automation also comes in handy for compressing images into different formats and naming the files.
- Tailor image compression to the device. Make sure to use the proper compression formats based on the targeted device. For instance, images with a lower resolution may still look great on mobile devices and help enhance the user experience on your website.
Lossless compression removes non-essential data without affecting image quality or clarity. If you need to use high-quality photos on the website, lossless compression is likely the best option, even if it means a slightly longer load time.
If you want to save space on your website, you can check your media library for any unused images. If you use WordPress, there are plugins that can help make this process more efficient, like Media Cleaner.
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