Do you remember, back in the olden days, when we’d have to use a phone line to get on the internet?
You’d start to log on and then you’d go do laundry, perhaps whip up a meal, and clean your whole house while you waited for it to connect. Weren’t those days the best?
No. They sucked.
You know why they sucked?
Because it would take FOREVER for stuff to load and the last thing anyone wants to do is sit and wait; especially not busy business owners who have far more important things to do.
Times have most certainly changed.
We expect, no, we count on the websites we visit to be lightening fast. And nothing makes us more frustrated than being reminded of the dial up days.
We live in a ‘give me my info quickly or I. Am. Out of here!’ age and it is in our best interests to make sure we meet the expectations of the people who visit our websites.
The fact is, there is no good reason to have a slow-loading site.
If your site isn’t efficient, it’s a good indicator that it’s not being well maintained.
In a nutshell, page speed refers to how fast the content on a web page loads; if it’s not loading fast, you need to figure out why and fix it. Quickly!
The quicker the load, the more legit you look.
It’s a Twitter world, people. People want speed, they want bite size information and they want it to be exhaustive. That means, slow loading websites increase the chances, by a lot, that prospective clients will leave your site.
Do you want to hear how short our attention spans are these days?
Statistics show that a one second delay in page response, you read that right, ONE SECOND DELAY, can result in a seven percent reduction in conversions.
The average bounce rate for pages loading within two seconds is nine percent. As soon as the page load time surpasses three seconds, the bounce rate soars, to 38% by the time it hits five seconds. It’s really crazy when you think about how quickly people lose interest in waiting.
But the numbers don’t lie. People are busy! Their time is as precious as yours. That’s why 40 percent of people abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. ‘Aint nobody got time to wait for webpages to load!
Better performance optimization means a better overall user experience.
Not only do visitors to your site expect quick load speed, but you know who else cares a lot? Google!
The quicker the load speed the more Google considers your site to be both legit and of a solid quality, so you’ll be more likely to be ranked higher by Google than someone whose page is slow.
Is it loading fast? How am I supposed to know?
The first step is to find out how quickly (or not quickly) your website is loading, and to do that, there are a variety of tools out there that you can use to test a webpage’s speed.
I won’t get into the nitty gritty of how Google’s page speed insights work, but the important thing to know is that it runs a series of tests that interpret your website’s code. Then it provides you with results and instructions on what you can do to improve your ranking (and subsequently having a faster website).
The thing is, it’s unlikely that someone DIYing their website would be able to interpret and know what to do with a lot of the data that comes back, and a lot of factors come into play with optimizing your website to improve page load speed.
If you use Page Speed Insights, you really have to try to ignore the noise and all of the numbers that will be thrown at you, and find the nuggets that you can draw helpful info from.
I can tell you this much – the results will most likely highlight that your images need to be optimized.
There will very likely be a host of other issues at play but optimizing your images is one of the easiest things YOU can do, that you won’t need to bring in help to do, to help improve your website’s load speed.
How can I optimize images by myself?
It’s really not nearly as daunting as it might sound to take ownership of performing this fix, and while you can hire a website developer to support you on this front, I wouldn’t suggest you could do it if I didn’t think it was worth a bit of sweat equity.
1) Use the correct image format
It’s important to remember that photos on your website should be JPGs and not PNGs, GIFs or other formats. Your logo or other transparent items can be in PNG format but any photos should ONLY be in JPG.
JPGs are more web-friendly files because they are much smaller and, therefore don’t demand as much bandwidth to load. The bigger the file, the more work it takes to load. Sounds logical, right?
2) Resize your images
Make sure your images are sized down to just the size you need to be for the spot they’re being placed into on your site.
It makes far more sense to change the dimensions of your images before you upload them so that you don’t end up forcing a website visitor to load a giant image when a little one will do.
3) Choose the right image resolution
Don’t upload the version of your image that comes directly from your digital camera or your photographer or a stock website. Those are often 300dpi or higher and web resolution is 72dpi, so those images should always be reduced to web resolution if the original is higher than that.
And don’t worry, it’s not a hard thing to do. A graphics program like Adobe Photoshop, or even something like Preview on Mac allows you to change the dpi setting.
4) Optimize your images
If you’re on WordPress, I recommend getting a plugin that is designed to optimize your media library’s images. My team usually implements Imagify for all of our clients and we have seen some very good success with it in terms of reducing image file size.
If you’re not on WordPress, you can still optimize your images using something like Kraken, which has a web interface.
5) Reduce the number of images on your site
The best advice I can give from a website performance/speed standpoint is: If you don’t need em, ditch em!
I know people love images to look at, but too many can weigh down your website. Pick the ones that are the most valuable and illustrate what you do and what you offer.
I do understand that some businesses lend themselves to require more images than others – if you sell flowers or are a photographer, your prospective customers will expect to see a lot of images. Just be mindful of how many you have and be aware of the affect it has on your page speed. If you have a million pictures all over your site, in blogs, in galleries, no matter how you optimize them, they will slow your site speed.
Start with your homepage slider
If you have a slider feature on your homepage, this is a great place to start tackling your images, because I’ve often found at least one (if not more) of the five image issues showing up in sliders.
Make sure the slider images are JPG format, that they’ve been resized to fit the slider dimensions (no bigger, no smaller), that they have been saved at 72dpi and optimized, and that you have carefully curated your images (a.k.a., your slider should not have 10 images in it).
Images can be a very effective feature to help potential clients get a feel for you and for what you do, but if the way you’ve incorporated images into your website is creating a slow and clunky experience for your customers and prospects, then it is a certain conversion killer.
If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, you shouldn’t need 50 of them to say who you are.