Slow Load Times = Lost Visitors

Paul Schetelich

Lead Designer

Slow loading websites can result in lost visitors. But did you know that slow load times can actually increase your visitors’ heart rates, stressing them out?

According to a 2016 Ericsson Mobility study, users who experience delays on single websites have a 38 percent increase in heart rate, on average. You can compare a 38 percent heart rate increase to how you feel when you watch a scary movie. Is this really what you want to do to your visitors? We didn’t think so.

HubSpot Research conducted a study analyzing 26,000 websites that are probably a lot like yours. They discovered that the average load times for mobile websites was almost four seconds - this is serious underperformance. Four seconds is enough time to increase a visitor’s heart rate, stress them out and bounce them off your page.

So what’s holding most websites back from efficient load times?

In most cases, it’s images and video that haven’t been optimized for mobile.

It’s hard not to want to upload a beautiful image of your logo or company headquarters, but the large file size could be to blame for a poor user experience. If your website doesn’t pop up immediately, it can leave a potential customer with a negative image of your brand.

You don’t want to be on anyone’s bad list, and you certainly don’t want to be the one responsible for someone’s heart palpitations. So what can you do to speed up the load times of your site and leave visitors with a good impression of your brand?

Let’s cover this in the section below.

How to Speed Up Page Load Times

If slow load times equal angry visitors, then fast load times equal happy visitors! Well, at least on the front end of things. Whether or not the rest of your website is interesting, informative and engaging will be up to the visitor, but at least a fast loading site gets them through the door.

Let’s go over the most important factors that determine how fast your mobile website loads.

Compressed Images

The first thing we recommend is compressing your images, particularly if you have a lot of them. The amount of time it takes to load these images could be adding up to several seconds, and you can shave this time off by compressing your images.

Here’s how to do it.

Let’s say that your product image is displayed as 500 x 500 pixels on a page, even though the actual size of the image is 3500 x 3500 pixels. The image weighs a few megabytes, and a user may be forced to load the larger version first. Once it’s loaded, the image can then be resized.

These sorts of adjustments take place on desktops all the time, but it’s so fast, we generally don’t notice. On a mobile device, however, these seconds are painful, especially when you throw in cellular connections.

Aside from compressing your images, also choose a lightweight image format like JPG. This format is good for most pages and won’t bloat the user experience.

Responsive Design

Responsive design is the preferred format for Google. If you have a separate mobile website, look into getting the ball rolling with a responsive design. A responsive design provides an optimal viewing experience for users, regardless of the device they are on. Your website will automatically adjust so that users don’t have to resize, scroll, zoom or pan out to read your content.

To find out if your website is mobile friendly, take the Mobile Friendly Test.

Minified Code

When you minify the code, you remove all unnecessary characters without impacting your site’s functionality. This has a significant impact on the amount of time it takes for your website’s code to be processed, resulting in faster load times on both mobile and desktop.

Minification isn’t something that can be done on a whim, of course. You’ll need to get someone from your development team on board because this process directly involves altering the code on your website.

As far as JavaScript goes, minifying the code is even more important. Where possible, remove some JavaScript from the mobile versions of your web pages to speed them up even more.

Background Videos

Videos usually are longest to load, so use your best judgement when adding them to your site. If the video is not crucial to the user experience, we recommend not including it. You will have plenty of other opportunities to share videos with your audience. If you have a video that is important, load it in the background. It’s not the best fix, but it’s something.

To do this, you’ll need someone from your development team again. Have them insert some CSS into the code that prevents the video from loading when a visitor comes to your website.

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) cache and load content on servers in different locations. This means that no matter where on the web a person is coming from and which device they are using, they get an optimized user experience. The key is to get your website on a CDN so that you can take advantage of all the performance benefits.

Another benefit to CDNs is that they are highly reliable. Even during times of traffic peaks and power outages, CDNs keep websites alive and running. If you’re still using multiple data centers, you will be able to deliver a much faster and reliable experience with a CDN.

Knowing that your website’s load times can affect visitors on a physical level is huge. Not only can a stubborn, slow loading website result in lost visitors but also a negative image of your brand. With so much at stake, it’s important to test your website and apply the above tips to get your pages loading faster.

 
About the Author: Paul Schetelich

Since the days of sidewalk chalk and finger paints, Paul has been creatively crafting the art of design. With a B.A. in Graphic Design from Monmouth University and a Masters from the Califano School of Art - Paul quickly moved up the ranks at SEMGeeks from Junior Designer to the Lead Designer. With 4+ years of experience in web design Paul is ready to conquer the digital atmosphere.

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