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Why Website Performance Matters

While browsing the web you may have noticed that some websites load almost instantaneously but others seem to take a long time. There are three main factors that determine your website’s performance:

  • Internet connection speed
  • The web server hosting your site
  • Your website’s content

Why You Should Care

Your website’s page speed (how fast your website loads) has a greater impact on the success of your site than you may think. Visitors will often leave a site in as little as 3 seconds, according to Kissmetrics. In fact, your page speed also affects how easily your site will be found in search results and how much your site will cost.

Findability

Being found on the internet is vital to the success of your site, whether you are a small business with an eCommerce store or a large company trying to convert more customers. To be easily found, you should make sure your site is indexed in search engines and can be shared through social media. On top of that, search engines will rank your site based on its performance. A site with great performance will move to the top of the search results while slower sites will drop to the bottom.

Site Cost

Your web server, the computer that hosts your website, has limited resources, such as bandwidth. The more visitors to your site, the more data will be transferred from your server to the visitors’ browsers. Once you reach the limit of your server, your site will either slow down or you will be charged a premium for the extra bandwidth. Either way, you benefit by reducing the size of your site and thus speeding it up.

Website Bloat

The main culprit slowing your site down is content. Website content includes things such as images, videos, fonts, stylesheets (rules telling the browser how content appears), and scripts (rules telling the browser how the page should function). All of these have to be downloaded for the web page to be viewed. As of 2016, the average size of a website was around 2.4 megabytes. This number is increasing because of higher-quality images and greater bandwidth capabilities provided by web hosts. When you have a fast internet connection, size doesn’t really matter. On the flip side, if your internet connection is slow or there is a bandwidth limit, every byte suddenly becomes more important.

The Environment

Believe it or not, your web page size has an effect on the environment. To put it simply, the internet requires electricity, and the more data that needs to be sent from web server to the client’s browser, the more electricity is consumed. Now, you may be asking, does it really make that big a difference? It sure does! There are reports that the internet’s carbon footprint may have already surpassed global air travel. So, if you were looking for another reason to optimize your site, taking care of the environment should be added to your list.

Optimization

There is a laundry list of optimizations that can to be done by an experienced developer to improve the performance of your site, from optimizing images and code to server-size optimizations and browser caching. To get a free performance audit for your WordPress site, please feel free to contact me.

There are also WordPress plugins to assist in improving your website’s performance, and I highly recommend WP Rocket. They have great support and will do a lot of the heavy lifting for you.

Testing Your Site’s Performance

There are many ways you can test your site’s performance, and I recommend you do so. It may surprise you to find out that your site isn’t performing as well as you thought. Below are some tools to help you assess the performance of your website.

Pingdom Speed Test

Google Page Speed

WebPagtest.org

GTmetrix

It’s important to note that the web is constantly updating and best practices for website optimization change as the web changes. Some of these tools are not fully up to date on the latest protocols and techniques, so they may give poor performance grades for techniques that actually speed up your site. The total load speed is what really matters.  To read more about how to correctly measure your website’s page load time, check out WP-Rockets post.

Conclusion

To wrap up this article, I want to emphasize that your site’s performance should trump its appearance. Performance should not be an afterthought and should be considered as you are designing your new site or adding new content to your current site.

Lee Stratman

Owner, Stratman Web Development

Lee Stratman is a Web Developer from Madison, WI. He helps small-to-medium-sized businesses build effective websites that utilize the popular content management system WordPress.

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