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Digital Health Check: How Fast is your site?

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As part of our digital health campaign, Fingo are exploring a variety of tools designed to kick start your digital well-being in 2017. In this installment, we explore the importance of Page Speed and some simple (and not so simple) steps you can take to ensure your website is performing to its full potential.

What is Page Speed?

Page speed measures the time taken for the content on your website page to load. In order to aid user experience, an ideal page should load quickly and studies have found that faster pages often rank and convert better.

Why is it important?

Pages which take longer to load will often result in higher bounce rates and lower average time on page. This means that potential clients or customers are likely to click off your page without finishing their transaction and this can have a negative impact on conversions.

In recent years, Google has also indicated that page speed can be a ranking factor. As such, faster load times increase user engagement and visitors are likely to stay on the site longer. This reflects well in your website analytics reports and can help improve your site’s overall page rankings. Further to this, a slow page speed means that search engines often crawl fewer pages and this can have a negative effect on the number of pages indexed.

How do I check my website’s Page Speed?

There are a number of ways to check your site’s page speed including this free Google tool here: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

To use it, simply copy and paste the URL of your website. If you scored under 75, you may want to follow the steps below to improve the speed of your site or give us a call.

How can I improve it?

If your page speed is slower than expected, see if you can follow these steps to improve the overall user friendliness and performance of your website.

Images

Image size can be a substantial factor slowing down your site. Be sure that your images are no larger than they need to be and in the correct file format. For example, PNGs are generally better for graphics whilst JPEGs are generally better for photographs. Photographs can also be compressed using programs such as Photoshop – allowing you to maintain the quality of the image whilst still reducing its size. Often it’s possible to reduce the size down to 60 or 70 percent of the original size without losing any quality.

CSS sprites can help save loading time by sparing users the wait for multiple images to load. CSS sprites work to combine your images into one, larger image that loads all at once. This results in fewer HTTP requests and by displaying only the sections that you want to show. These are also used to create a template for frequently used images such as signatures or sharing buttons.

Content distribution networks

Also known as content delivery networks, CDNs are servers that are used to distribute the load of delivering content. These store copies of your site across multiple data centres so that users have faster and more reliable access to your site.

Reduce redirects

Multiple page redirects can cause users additional time waiting for the HTTP request-response cycle to complete. For example, if your mobile redirect pattern looks like this: “example.com -> www.example.com -> m.example.com -> m.example.com/home,” each of those two additional redirects makes your page load slower by adding an extra step.

Minify CSS, JavaScript, and HTML

By removing spaces, commas, unused code and other unnecessary characters from your code, you can dramatically increase your page speed. Google recommends using YUI Compressor for both CSS and JavaScript.

Improve server response time

The response time of your server is affected by a number of elements. The amount of traffic you receive, the resources each page uses, the software your server uses, and the hosting solution you use will all affect Page Speed. The optimal server response time is under 200ms, and so it’s worth considering your slow database queries, slow routing, or a lack of adequate memory.

If you’d like to find out more about Page Speed, learn more ways in which to improve it or get a full health check-up for your website, contact Fingo via our enquiries page or email us at hello@fingo.co.uk.