What the modern person wants more than anything, is for life to be instant. Instant coffee, instant arrival, instant results. With simpler things, it’s easier to provide ‘instant’. Pretty much the second you order it, your iced capp is ready for you. Online, unfortunately, things can’t always be instant. Websites need to load, content needs to be aggregated, and links aren’t always as fast as we want them to be. For users, this translates to more than just the speed of your website.
It’s what is called the ‘speed experience’, and the success of your online business relies on it.
Check out these statistics about hosting and web page speed if you want to see just how much delays can cost you, but what it really boils down to is that users simply will not wait for slowly loading web pages. The longer the delay, the higher the chances of them abandoning your web page, thinking poorly of your business, or even ruining your reputation by word of mouth.
Google now even uses web page speed as a ranking factor and is committed to increasing overall online speeds.
Here are some techniques that you can follow to speed up your website and improve your ranking:
1. Don’t make users wait:
Site load time is the most important thing any business should focus on. A slow website is an ineffective website, and an ineffective website is losing you money. For starters, make sure that you’re operating on a good host. Use online tools to compare web hosts, and don’t cheap out! This is the backbone of your web page, and should be chosen with care.
If you’re trying to go global, and your server is locally based, users in other regions might have trouble loading your webpage. By using CDN’s (content delivery networks), you can help your website be more easily accessible across the globe. CDN’s can even help your website work faster in your home region, and are a powerful investment for website speed.
Web design is very important to your business image, but it should never be put before site speed. Having a cluttered website can slow down your loading times; look over the add-ons, plugins, images, and videos on your site. Can they be removed or compressed? If they’re slowing down your site, are they really necessary? Can they be incorporated through links? If you plan on having users regularly access your website, make sure to incorporate caching. Caching allows browsers to locally save content and images from your site for faster viewing with multiple visits, meaning that repeat users are not bogged down by loading images and content.
2. Responsive sites are mobile sites:
Mobile is here to stay. In fact, more users now access the web through mobile than through desktop, and not accounting for this would be a massive error. Some businesses will approach this by building a smaller, mobile version of their website. This is easier than redesigning your site to be responsive but is ultimately less fruitful. Responsive sites load equally as well across all viewing platforms (desktop, tablet, mobile, etc.), and although they take more time to create, they will ensure your speed and compatibility across all devices.
3. Users want the loading bar:
There’s nothing worse than having to wait and not knowing how long the wait will be. People experience this every time they go see a doctor, and they don’t want the same experience online. There’s always unexpected issues, and occasionally a site may take longer to load than usual. That’s okay, but give users the opportunity to see just how long it will take to load, by including some sort of progress bar. Whether they’re purchasing something, loading an image, or trying to watch a video, when there’s a progress bar, they’re significantly more likely to continue with the transaction if they know exactly how long it will take.
4. Less is more:
You may think that by requesting customers to fill in pages and pages of information, you somehow gain more insight into your audience, which can be converted into more targeted content. This isn’t wrong, but by overloading your customers with how much info they have to provide and how many forms they have to fill in, you may actually impeding your business. The more that a user has to fill in, the less likely they are to follow through with the transaction, and vice versa. You’re better off having twice as many customers and knowing a little bit less about each one than only having a handful that you know really well. You can always siphon this info later on, once they’re already a customer. Limit the signup forms, and maximize your audience.
5. Customer support means customer satisfaction:
The ‘Speed Experience’ refers not only to the speed of your website but also to the speed of your customer service. Consumers expect businesses to reply within the day when contacted by email, on twitter/facebook, or by phone. For the sake of customer satisfaction, it’s best to uphold these time frames. There’s nothing worse than an angry customer who’s decided to tarnish your reputation. They could cost you dozens of potential customers, and all because you couldn’t be bothered to check your Twitter. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes; how long would you wait for a business to reply?
The Speed Experience is not just how Paul Walker lived and died. It’s also an essential part of any business that strives for success and customer satisfaction. Anyone would get irritated when they have to wait, and irritation does not bode well for businesses. Take out the waiting, and watch your brand reputation shoot through the roof!