Ella Helps
Marketing and Events Verb Brands

You’ve perfected the design, written your content, chosen the most impactful images and got your website up and running for your audience to see, fantastic! That’s until the bounce rate starts to skyrocket because your site is running too slowly.

Site speed is a leading cause of user drop-off on websites, especially on e-commerce platforms. Users expect instant access to what they’re looking for, and if this isn’t delivered, they’re not interested. We find that slow loading speeds is one of the key pain points clients come to us with when needing support with their website, as it feels like something which should be simple to resolve these days. However, there is actually a multitude of reasons why your site could be running slowly, so we have provided some guidance on those which could be having the greatest impact.

 

1. Unoptimised Images

Lovely full-width images are hugely popular within web design at the moment, but these can become a huge ​drag on your site speed​ if they are not optimised effectively. Firstly, jpeg file format should primarily be used, over png and others, for most effective delivery of images on web pages. You should also look to limit the size of your image files as much as possible without compromising too much on resolution – images shouldn’t be larger than 600 or so KB. Uploading multiple images at 1 or 2 MB is going to significantly drag back the page from loading quickly. It’s also worth running images files through a compression tool (there are lots free online) before uploading, to make sure the files are as light and streamlined as they can be.

 

2. Heavy Reliance on Plugins

Not only does reliance on 3rd party plugins harm the loading speed of websites, but it can also make a site more vulnerable to security breaches and bugs. Propping a website up on plugins is a practice we see far too much in web development, primarily on WordPress sites. It is a way of getting things done quickly initially by cutting corners, but this lazy development behaviour is going to lead to a poorly performing site when it comes to speed, which can also harm SEO rankings. Each plugin in use makes its own file request, involving a CSS file and javascript having to load. This forces the site to carry unnecessary weight, so it’s key that you assess which plugins are absolutely essential on your site and only maintain those in order to mitigate speed issues.

 

3. Outdated CMS

The back-end of your website is hardly the most glamorous aspect to pay attention to, but a lot of web platforms like WordPress and Drupal offer regular updates to their CMS interfaces with the intention of solving bugs in previous versions. As much as it’s always easier to click ‘ignore’ when this pop-ups up on login, not updating your CMS can start to add loading time to the front-end, and over time leads to more significant work needing doing if you need to update to several versions ahead after months of clicking ‘ignore’. It can be somewhat daunting to carry this out yourself for fear of something breaking, which is why it’s often a good idea to enlist your web support​ team to do this for you – they know how to handle it.

 

4. Bad Hosting

Slow load speed may not be your website’s fault – the blame may instead lie with your hosting provider. Sufficient server space is necessary so that requests can be handled efficiently in order to deliver pages quickly to users, and to handle the amount of traffic you’re getting. If you suspect this might be an issue for your site, it is worth looking at whether you’re on a shared server, as competing with other sites for space could be harming your page speed. It could be worth upgrading to cloud-based hosting solutions which offer more flexible capacity and are increasingly popular at the moment. The best hosting providers should assess the particular needs of your website in order to define the best possible hosting solution to suit.

 

5. Not Utilising a CDN

Related to hosting, if you have an international audience it would be worthwhile setting up a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to alleviate slow load speeds for people visiting your site from abroad. A CDN is a set of independent servers in different global locations which can serve content to visitors more effectively and ​offer higher performance​, than if content delivery is solely relying on the core server. Depending upon where your audience are accessing your site from, the requested content gets served by the nearest available data centre, which if not using a CDN could be on the other side of the world. Setting up a CDN is therefore a great way to reduce the trip time for content requests and serve pages on your site more quickly to people abroad. This is particularly poignant if you’re looking to boost your international SEO rankings too.

Auditing your website’s speed can feel like opening a can of worms which feels overwhelming to resolve, so it’s important to prioritise fixing the main issues first and maintain your efforts over time. Using ​Google Pagespeed Insights​ is a great way to gain an overview of the main issues with speed on your site that will allow you to prioritise accordingly, in order to lower bounce rate and increase conversions from your website visitors.

 

If you need expert advice on how to improve your site speed, please get in touch with us. Contact us now.