August 09, 2017 –

Why page load speed is important for user experience and search engine results

Author: Emma Kemp
Emma Kemp
Senior Digital Account Manager
Photo by: James Donovan
Page load speed is a central component of website functionality. It’s most obvious impact, as you’d probably expect, is on the user experience.

A page that loads swiftly, promptly displaying the desired information, will not only be welcomed by the user at the time; it will also make them more inclined to revisit your website.

It also helps to reduce the bounce rate (people who leave after viewing one page) while improving the length of time spent on your site. After all, if you visit a website that takes an age to load, why would you sit and wait for another page on the website to load at a similarly slow pace?

User experience should be a key focus for any website provider, as ultimately the aim of the website is to meet their needs. A slow to load website doesn’t do this. In today’s society, we’re often time poor (or at least believe we are!) and everyone expects things quickly. Therefore, people aren’t going to wait around.

First impressions count
The speed at which your page loads is often the first impression you ever make to a potential customer/client/user of your services, so a slow loading website may inadvertently reflect negatively on the rest of what you offer. If you can’t get a webpage to load quickly, what else can’t you do?

Conversion Killer
A key point to note is that slow websites kill conversions. Users are unlikely to complete a booking or make a purchase if the website has taken a long time to load. They’ll simply go elsewhere and use a competitor’s services.

Long term impact
It’s not just an instant turn off. It also impacts the longer term too. While it has an immediate detrimental effect, over time website referrals will also dry up as other websites and users become reluctant to link to/recommend your website, not wanting to be associated with a poor online presence.

Google Invisibility
Another vital aspect of page load speed (which may not be immediately obvious), is that it directly impacts your Google search ranking. High speed boosts it. Low speed hinders it. The complex Google algorithms are able to determine this and will mark you down if it’s not at a sufficient standard. Google wants to give its users the best service and if your website doesn’t meet the standard, you’re not going to be topping any rankings.

So, it’s all well and good highlighting the need to deliver good page load speed, but how is it improved?

The mechanisms are complex.

There are many reasons behind slow page load speed, which is why it’s a challenge to resolve. From server processing time, to the number of additional resources the page requires, JavaScript issues or inefficiency, to compression of data for transfer: the technicalities are myriad and varied.

Here at 16i, we take page load speed very seriously and it’s something we concentrate on when delivering for our clients. We ensure that we use clean coding and that all aspects of our sites are optimised. However, even if everything on site is optimised, the server response time (the amount of time it takes for a web server to process and respond to a request from a browser) can still slow your page load speed if not dealt with properly.

In the past when we’ve inherited websites from another supplier, we’ve achieved results where we’ve gone on to half the server response time, while also using less resources to process requests, which then allows the server to process more concurrent requests at greater speed, thus improving page load speed.

If you’re looking for an expert solution to slow page load speed, then get in touch.

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