When was the last time you checked how long your website took to load? A few seconds or does it run into minutes for all the elements to load and start functioning properly?
According to a post on Kissmetrics, 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less and about 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. In simpler words, a one second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.
Whether your website sells a product, service or generates leads, paying close attention to your load times is IMPORTANT – it has a direct affect on your conversion rate. Here are 5 studies that prove the same:
1. Google’s Study on Load Times
Google conducted an individual study on load times and their effect on conversions. The study found that just a 0.5 second increase in load time caused a 20% decrease in traffic. In simpler words, roughly 1 out of 5 users exited Google simply because they experienced a longer load time.
2. Load times and Search Rankings
Load times not just affect the conversions on your website, but also its search ranking. In a blog post in 2010, Google announced that it will take into account the site speed as a ranking signal – faster sites would rank higher and perform better in search results than the slower ones.
3. Amazon’s Study on Load Times
Amazon conducted an internal study to determine how a website’s load time impacted its sales. Despite being the world’s largest online retailer, they discovered that for every 100 ms increase in load time, their business saw a 1% decrease in sales – which translates to a loss of millions of dollars in a year.
4. Forrester Research on Load Times
A study conducted by the market research firm Forrester Research, an average internet user waits up to 3 seconds before clicking the back or close button of his browser. The same study was conducted 4 years back to reveal that users waited only 4 seconds for a website to load completely before abandoning it. Observing the changes, it is safe to say that internet users have become more impatient over the years.
5. Akamai and Gomez research on Load Times
A joint study by Akamai and Gomez stated that nearly half of the internet users expect a website to load in under two seconds. And the moment they realise it will take more than 3 seconds, they abandon the website. About 79% of online buyers don’t return to a website that doesn’t load quickly, and about 44% of them share these negative reviews in their circles.
Here’s an interesting infographic by Kissmetrics, that talks about load times and their effect on the website’s conversions:
Convinced that your website’s load time plays an important role in determining your conversion rate? Worried about how you can work around reducing the loading time?
We got you covered!
5 ways to reduce your website’s loading time
Here are 5 conversion rate optimization tips that will help you reduce your website’s loading time:
1. Optimize your images
The first and foremost thing to do for reducing a website’s load time, is to optimize your images as they take up a major chunk of bandwidth on the website. During designing, most webmasters make use of large size images and then scale them down using CSS. But the fact is, the browser still loads them in their full size.
Here are 2 ways to overcome this problem:
- Scale your image ‘before’ you upload them to your website.
- Compress your images before uploading them to your website with tools such as tinypng.com.
2. Enable Browser Caching
Enabling browser caching lets you temporarily use storage on the visitor’s computer for some of your website data. This eradicates the need for them to download the same thing over and over again.
But the duration for which your data can be stored on their browser, depends on its configuration and server side cache settings.
If you haven’t set up browser caching on your server yet, you can either contact your hosting company or make use of the following resources:
3. Use Compression
Compression is similar to creating a zip file of your website. This dramatically reduces your page’s size and decreases its load time. According to a study by Varvy, compression can easily clock off 50-70% from your HTML and CSS files – that is, reduce a lot of data that your visitor would have to download.
Just like browser caching, compression too is a server setting. You can either contact your hosting company to implement it or make use of the following resources:
4. Optimize your CSS
The CSS for your website loads much before your visitors see what’s on your website. The longer it takes to load, the longer will be the overall loading time for the visitor. Optimizing your CSS ensures that all your files get downloaded faster and the loading time of web pages reduces drastically for your visitors.
So minimize your CSS files to remove all the surplus code in your files. Ensure that you have removed the extra spaces from your code to bring them down to the smallest size possible. If your CMS doesn’t offer a minimizing CSS option, you can make use of the CSS Compressor – an absolutely free tool to minimize your files.
Minimizing your resource files not just knocks off the weight from them, but also reduces the time it takes to run and load them all.
5. Add scripts after the content or before the closing body tag
The best practice to follow here is to place all the external scripts after the content or just before the closing body tag – depending on what you want to show on the website. This allows all your website content to load seamlessly and makes the load time seem a lot lesser for the visitor.
However, you must make sure that each of your scripts are tested – the attributes must not cause a break on your website.
Over to you
Being associated with a brand name automatically makes us want to go all out to create a website that puts across the marketing message in the coolest way possible. While using rich content and imagery are almost obvious, it is important for us to keep in mind the importance of load times.
Finding a balance between offering a rich experience and decreased load time, is the key to a successful website.