A fast website thanks to a few magic tricks?
There is nothing more upsetting than a slow website. Sadly, there is no magic trick to getting a fast website. However, some minor interventions can have a very positive effect on the speed of your site, which actually depends on various factors, such as the structure, the content, or the hosting of your website. And as if that were not complicated enough, you will probably come across tons of contradictory information on the Internet. It is therefore high time to make things clearer!
For this article, our colleagues from Byte have thoroughly examined a few claims, which we are happy to share with you here.
1. Do figures tell the whole story about speed and the performance of your website?
It is only natural that you look at the figures if you want to learn more about the speed of your website, but this is not always the best approach. Speed is not just about figures.
User experience, for instance, plays an important role as well. If your visitors feel that your website is slow, the problem may be that user experience is not as it should be.
Are buttons hard to find? Do the pictures in your carrousels take too long to load? Or do visitors have to scroll down too much to find what they are looking for? Such issues can make your website slow, even if the raw numbers tend to indicate that there is no problem at all. Are you looking for quick wins to improve speed? In that case, try considering website optimisation – not only while developing your website, but also when it is already online.
If your visitors feel that your website is slow, the problem may be that user experience is not as it should be.
If your website is well optimised, visitors will pay a lot less attention to loading times. So, make sure user experience requirements are met. If your visitors can navigate your website intuitively, then you are on the right track!
Tip: do not forget about the mobile version of your website! Since we increasingly use our smartphones and tablets to surf the Internet, you should definitely make sure that your website loads fast on these devices too!
2. Is your website loading time the key indicator?
The time your website needs to load all of the items (images, links, etc.) is called – as you probably guessed – the loading time. We often use the loading time as an indicator to measure the speed of our site.
But do not get too hung up on this factor! For various websites, it does not really matter if every element is loaded or not. A parameter that is linked to this, to which you should pay more attention, is the time-to-interact, which measures how long it takes to load the main interactive content, such as clickable links, and activate it.
The difference lies in the fact that visitors do not have to wait until every single image is loaded before they can perform an action on your website. This way, you can significantly improve user experience without having to do something to the loading time. So, even if your website is not really faster, it will feel faster to your visitors.
Do not force your visitors to wait until every single image is loaded before they can perform an action on your website.
3. Will a smaller number of requests make your website faster?
Yes and no. It is true that lowering the number of server requests will allow your website to load faster. You can e.g. do this by combining files (such as CSS) into one large file. This way, a single request will be sent to the server, instead of multiple smaller requests. Nowadays, however, many browsers are able to download multiple files simultaneously. And sometimes, downloading a large file might take longer than multiple smaller files. In other words, a smaller number requests will not necessarily make your website load faster. What we recommend is testing what works best for your website!
4. Are speed testing tools like Pingdom and Google PageSpeed Insights actually important?
Once again, there is no simple answer. Yes, such tools can help you identify possible bottlenecks. But you should not get too hung up on them either. What really matters is still user experience and, obviously, the speed of your website. If these aspects are taken care of, as well as your findability and conversion ratio, you do not have to worry too much about some test scores.
Unfortunately, there are no magic tricks…
To sum things up, there are no magic tricks or super tips. It is going to take some time and effort to find what works and what does not, but if you follow these tips, you will certainly be on the right track to a fast website.