In a time where people get to watch any show on Netflix or purchase any item on Amazon, it is obvious people want things instantaneously. It should come as no surprise that fast loading websites are now necessary. Fast websites improve both the user experience and performance of your website.
Page abandonment increases the increasing page load time. That means the longer your website takes to load, the more people will give up and leave. If you want to read some good case studies related to companies that have seen higher conversions from improving their website speed, read this article.
Google also likes fast websites. That means that Google will favourably rank websites that are fast loading. If you want your website to appear at the top of search engine result pages, then make sure your site loads quickly.
There are many reasons why a website can be slow to load. We will list four of the most common reasons:
Some websites have pictures that are much larger than they should be and it takes time for the browser to load larger images from a server. For instance, if an image appears on your website at a maximum size of 800 X 400 pixels and you upload an image that is 2000 X 1000 pixels large, you are causing the browser to load an image that is of a higher resolution than required. There are also image compression techniques that can reduce the file size of images with no visual impact to users.
Websites should take advantage of a browser’s ability to cache assets on a website. Caching assets means that a browser keeps a copy of a website's files. This allows a browser to download a file once and use it multiple times. Therefore, an image will not have to be re-downloaded for each visit a user makes on a website. If you are using a CMS such as WordPress, you can install plugins, such as WP Rocket, to leverage browser caching. WP Rocket will find the assets on your website that should be saved by a browser's cache.
WordPress sites that contain many plugins require a lot more files for the browser to render. This causes more time for a website to load. It is important to only install and activate plugins that are essential for the functionality and performance of your website. As a result, choose your plugins wisely.
Before a browser is able to render files for the user to see, the browser must first request the files from a website's server. Ideally, this step takes as little time as possible, but if your server doesn’t have the resources necessary to serve your files quickly to a browser, the load time can take a hit. This is typically a problem for websites on shared hosting plans where there are many websites on a single server and the hardware resources are being split between all the websites on the shared server. As a result, you will want to make sure your website is being hosted on a Virtual Private Server (VPS) or on a dedicated server for optimum speed.
In conclusion, there are many advantages to ensuring your website loads quickly. There are also many things you can do to optimize the load time for your website. Not only will speeding up your website make the user experience much more pleasant, but it can directly impact how your users engage with your website.
Some other useful links regarding website speed:
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Earlier this year Shopify launched the Shopify App Challenge. The brief, create an app that helps solve a challenge amplified by COVID-19, but that would also have staying power beyond the pandemic crisis. We knew, without a doubt, that we wanted to be a part of this challenge. So, our small team set to work building our second public Shopify application, Recipes.