Does it matter? In a word, yes – and here’s why.
Like a lot of issues in the design of a good business website, there are two main reasons why you want your site to be quick. One is to do with customer experience, the other is to do with search engine ranking.
But first, what is a “quick” website, and what kinds of factors affect page speed?
A website is considered to be quick if it loads in around 2-3 seconds. A site that is slower than this is by no means the end of the world. A good designer will take many factors into account when striking the balance between content and user experience (UX). It may be that you operate in a sector where your visitors are patient and are happy to wait, or that your site has been designed primarily as a showcase/portfolio for potential clients with a view to securing contracts based on how well it demonstrates your capabilities.
There are quite a high number of technical “behind the scenes” factors which affect site speed, but the key issue is that they affect health and security of the site, so a good designer will have this kind of conversation with you.
It’s just that, statistically speaking, in terms of the average internet user, every (milli)second counts. It really does – our attention spans are low and our impatience is high when surfing the web. So unless your visitor has a very good reason for navigating to your site, they’re unlikely to hang around if the load time is too long. They’ll just move on to a competitor’s site.
There are a few different issues which affect how quickly your site takes to load, but here are two of the more common culprits:
- Images (inc. Sliders)
A good business website uses high quality images to show off what the business does. The problem is that hi-res images are heavy – they sit on your website and slow it down. This is why images should be compressed either before loading them up (by using Photoshop or something similar, or by software that does this automatically).
Related to images, of course, sliders aren’t hugely popular within the web design community. Again, they’re heavy and cumbersome, meaning that your website struggles to present them quickly to the visitor.
All web hosting is not equal. In much the same way that you might prefer a particular coffee shop because of the product they serve and how they serve it, some web hosting companies provide quicker upload times than others (and are generally more “user-friendly”). This depends on a range of factors, but ultimately comes down to how much time and effort they spend on this aspect of hosting your website. Ask your designer and they’ll have website hosts that they recommend.
“A slow site can impact upon how positively visitors view not only your website, but your business as a whole.”
How is customer experience affected by website speed? Very much related to the points already mentioned above, visitors to your website will leave and find a competitor if your site is too slow. But the net effect of this isn’t just a temporary win for your competitor. The way that a business’s website performs is becoming more and more a part of the whole ‘brand experience’ of that business. A slow site can impact upon how positively visitors view not only your website, but your business as a whole.
The second reason is no less damaging in terms of the entire online strategy of your business. Google does not like slow websites. It places them lower down the page rankings when visitors search for keywords and phrases. That, ultimately, is the harsh truth. Yes, your site visitors may be prepared to wait, because they really want to see what you have to offer. But combine this with a lower-than-necessary Google ranking, and you’ll probably be banging on your website designer’s door wondering why site speed wasn’t a higher priority.
So the reality of website speed is that it’s about striking a balance between your business needs and customer/Google expectations of how a “good” website ought to function.
If you’re wondering what your website speed is, and the kinds of issues that are affecting it, get in touch with your designer and ask for a report.
For more information on any of this, get in touch with your web designer, or give us a call. You can find our contact details at www.northreyconsulting.com