In this article we’ll be looking at what contributes to a website’s load speed, what you can do about it and the ideal load speed you should be aiming for.
We’ll also cover some simple tests you can carry out to find out how fast your website is.
What contributes to a website’s load speed? #
Two over-branching factors that contribute to a website’s overall speed are:
- What’s on the website (largely we’re talking about the content here).
- The hosting environment or type of hosting.
Let’s look at those in detail.
Website content #
While there are a number of on-site (on the website) factors that impact the speed of a website, in our experience, none impact it as much as content size.
What do we mean by content size? #
We’re talking about the actual size of the media on your site and how many you’ve got of them.
– Media are files such as images, graphics, videos & more.
The larger the files or the more you have of them, the more strain it’s going to put on your web server and therefore the slower your website will be.
If you’ve got 20 images all over 5 megabytes on your home page, they’re going to take a very long time to render on your browser. I’d imagine you would expect a load time of over 10 seconds… even with a fast broadband (internet) connection.
Here’s our top three tips for image optimisation:
- Compress your images to a resolution of 72 dpi before uploading.
- Reduce the dimensions… You don’t need images that are 8,000pixels (px) wide and 12,000px high. We’d recommend a maximum of 1600px along the sides*.
- Try Lazy Loading your images.
*This is just a guide, you may have use of different dimensions depending on your purpose.
Other on-site factors #
As discussed above, there are other factors that do influence how fast your website loads. Here are a few more:
- Keeping your website up to date. Code evolves and becomes faster & more efficient – make sure you keep up with the times!
- The platform your website was built on e.g. hardcoded or a CMS. CMSs tend to be slower than hardcoded, static sites.
- The volume of plugins or extensions installed on your site.
Hosting environment #
In a dream world your website would sit on a dedicated, high spec server in a UK based data centre.
However, fiscally speaking, it’s not always the best option as dedicated servers are expensive when compared to the other hosting options.
The types of hosting #
There are three main types of hosting which we will look at below and sum up:
- Shared hosting:
- Pro: Very cheap.
- Con: Load speeds can be rather slow.
- VPS (virtual private server):
- Pro: Fairly fast.
- Con: Moderately priced.
- Dedicated server:
- Pro: Often very fast.
- Con: Very expensive.
It’s beyond the scope of this article to go into detail about each type, but much like most things in life, the more you better, the better the service. However, as you can see a nice trade off between price and speed is the middle option, VPS hosting.
Ideal load speed #
When determining ‘how fast should your website load’, the easy answer is ‘as fast as possible’.
But at what point do you draw a line in the sand? What is an acceptable goal?
Well, have your sights set on under 2 seconds.
Why 2 seconds? #
It’s largely expected from visitors:
47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.Source: neilpatel.com
Consumers don’t like waiting around for a website to load, they’ll just go elsewhere! So as you can imagine, the visitor drop off rate increases drastically the longer your website takes to load.
Testing a website #
Both will not only work out your website’s average page load time, but also give you a break down on how you can improve upon this.