Why speed matters. Thoughts about web performance
Web performance is about everyone being able to access a website quickly, no matter what the internet conditions are or what device is being used.
When a customer goes to eat at a restaurant, slow service often leads to bad reviews and, consequently, fewer future customers. Similarly, a slow website speed can lead to poor Google rankings and less traffic to the website. The “user experience” also suffers.
Table of contents
Visitors are more demanding than ever. Visiting a website is no longer only about finding the desired information.
It’s about helping the visitor get to their destination as easily and quickly as possible.
It is about the quality of the user’s interaction with a website and also about their perception of it.
The time a visitor spends on your website should be a pleasant “experience”, something that is perceived positively during the visit and, ideally, remembered as such.
Speed plays a very important role in this. High-performing websites retain users better than low-performing ones. User retention, in turn, is critical to improving conversion rates (the percentage of users who complete a desired action).
Therefore, the better the performance, the more likely users are to stay on a page, read content, make purchases or call you.
Google also wants users to have a good experience on the web, so fast web pages also rank better in search results. A slow site can result in your website never being found, regardless of any other metric.
People are increasingly using their cell phones to access digital content and services. When I look at the clients’ website analytics, I see this trend reflected in the data. A typical split is 60% mobile (with a small proportion of tablets) and 40% desktop and laptop.
The performance of a website can vary greatly depending on the user’s device, network conditions or other processes running on the device. If you find your website fast enough on a computer with fiber-optic Internet, a user with an older cell phone with mobile data may experience it very differently.
Therefore, it is important to optimize websites especially for cell phones, especially in the speed category.
Performance is not an add-on function that can be taken care of later. Instead, it must be included in every step of the development process.
This is often seen with WordPress themes: first lots of plugins, a site builder and a multifunctional theme are loaded, and then another plugin is installed on top, supposed to automatically minimize and optimize all of the above. And that’s considering that WordPress itself is actually fast!
However, there are only a very limited number of possibilities that can lead to a speed increase with little effort.
The list of methods and best practices to achieve optimal speed is long. At the end of the day, the visual experience should not suffer, i.e. we want great images that showcase your facilities or products, and we want a nice web font that reflects the character of your company.
Both elements, images and fonts, are individually optimized so that they are no longer a hindrance to speed.
The following is a very basic list of measures that should always be followed:
- Develop a lightweight page
- Use a good quality host
- Optimize all components such as scripts, fonts and images
- Use caching
- Use a content delivery network (CDN)
I try to keep my articles up to date. If you see something that is not true (anymore), or something that should be mentioned, feel free to edit the article on GitHub.