Amazon says that one second of load lag time would cost them $1.6 billion in sales each year.
So, how fast should your website load? Both mobile and desktop users expect your site to load quickly (two seconds or less). However, the average loading times for various industries in the United States don’t meet those benchmarks. Take a look at this research from Google:
If you can speed up your website, it will give you a huge advantage over your competitors with slower load times. You should aim for your pages to load in three seconds or less. This is because many visitors will leave your site if it doesn’t load within three seconds. But obviously, the lower the number, the better.
1. Minimize Your HTTP Requests
HTTP requests are made for each element on your website. I’m referring to things like images, scripts, and stylesheets.
Much of a website’s loading time is related to downloading on-page elements. So for those of you who have lots of these components on your website, you have more HTTP requests.
- Reduce the Time to First Byte (TTFB)
TTFB refers to the time browsers need to wait before getting data from the server. Simply put, it’s basically how long it takes for a page to start loading.
Your TTFB is comprised of three elements:
- HTTP request time
- Process request time
- Response time
For those of you who have a TTFB that exceeds 200ms, you’ll need to take steps to improve that number. Beyond reducing HTTP requests, some common issues associated with slow TTFB are network and website traffic issues.
One of the best ways to reduce your TTFB is by enabling browser caching.
Run Compression Audits
Website compression refers to HTTP data being compressed so the size of it is smaller before it’s sent to the server. Doing this improves loading speed and bandwidth. I’d recommend running a compression audit with a tool like GIDNetwork to give you a better idea of how compressed files can speed up your website.
Use Asynchronous Loading
Files that load synchronously load one at a time, based on their location on the page. The problem with this is that if one file is taking longer to load, no other files will get loaded until that particular file is complete.
With asynchronous loading, files can load simultaneously. In the event of a file taking a while to load, other elements of your page can still load without any delay.
- Improve DNS Lookups
If your DNS lookup time is too slow, you should look into switching to a new DNS provider that will give you faster service. Here is a great free tool you can use to test your DNS. Simply enter your URL in and click Go.
The numbers most relevant to you and your website are going to be under the A column. Check the average time. You’ll want this number to be as low as possible. Anywhere in the neighborhood of 10-20ms is decent. If you’re pushing 30ms, you might want to switch DNS providers to get faster service.
- Install a content delivery network (CDN)
As you know, your website is hosted on a server. Every time someone visits your site, a request gets sent to that server. So if you’re experiencing high levels of traffic, requests will take longer to process, which will slow down your website for these users.
But high traffic is a good thing for your website. The last thing you want is for this surge in visitors to deter those same people from coming back because your website speed is too slow.
The physical location of a user to your server can also impact how fast your website is for them. People who are farther away from the server will experience slower loading times, even if you aren’t having high volumes of traffic at that time.
CDNs cache your website on networks of global servers. So when someone requests a file from your website, it gets routed to the server closest to their physical location. I’d recommend using Cloudflare or StackPath (formerly MaxCDN) to help you set up your content delivery network.
The importance of website speed can’t be overstated. Page loading times can make or break the success of your site.
You can’t just launch a website and forget about it. Your loading speed needs to be monitored on a regular basis. Otherwise, you’ll have no way of knowing where you stand, and what needs to be improved.
And remember: creating a fast website isn’t just a matter of installing a few plugins, dusting off your hands, and saying “Job well done!” It’s a continuous process that involves regular testing, tweaking, and housekeeping to keep your webpage speeds high.