How your website speed can seriously impact your visitor numbers

Written by: Dainius Stepulevicius, Web Developer at bvscwebdesign.org

Did you know that your website speed has the biggest impact on your visitors? In some cases, they may actually leave before the website has even loaded.

What this means is that you can have the most amazing looking website, but if it’s slow to load most visitors will leave before even having seen it. In fact, studies have shown that most will click away from a slow loading website after only 3 seconds!

slow websites

What is my website speed?

You can easily check out the speed of your website through UpTrends. You simply enter your website URL, wait a few moments, and it’ll show you the load time that your visitors experience.

What is affected by website speed?

As well as visitor dropout, a slow website will also affect:

  • Conversion rates (the percentage of visitors who sign up to newsletter, buy products or donate, etc.)
  • Bounce rates (the percentage of visitors who leave the website after viewing only one page)

The effect will be felt more severely if your website includes e-commerce or fund raising.

“Amazon found every 100ms of latency cost them 1% in sales. Google found an extra 0.5 seconds in search page generation time dropped traffic by 20%.” Source: PressTitan

Even if you don’t sell or fund raise you may experience a drop in general engagement levels, such as visitors signing up to your newsletter.

What can you do to fix your speed?

In most cases, by getting your website manager to install a few plugins and carrying out a few simple tweaks, you will be able speed up your website. Also bear in mind that image size can have a negative impact on your website’s performance. You need to ensure that all images are re-sized appropriately.
Two key areas of web design are responsible for around 70-80% of entire website speed and they are two areas that are easy to address through:

  • Image optimisation
  • Plugins for speed optimisation

DISCLAIMER – Before you or your website manager make any changes to the website, always make a full back up of the website. If for some reason you are unable to install the below mentioned plugins you should contact your hosting provider as in some cases, especially WordPress hosting, providers limit what extensions you can install.

Furthermore, none of the website or services mentioned here are endorsed in any way.

Image Optimisation

Whenever you upload images to a website, you should crop to the optimal size. You can achieve this through:

  • Image Cropping – there are many free online tools and I prefer PIXLR. It’s free and easy to use. This will optimise your images sufficiently for the web, but if you want to squeeze some extra performance you can also apply the next step
  • Optimise images for the web – this means shrinking the file size without sacrificing visual quality. Again there are many websites that do it but I prefer TinyJPG.

Plugins for speed optimisation

Before we start I just want to mention that this doesn’t affect images so you would still need to optimise your images separately.

There are many website content management systems, but as WordPress and Joomla account for 95% of market share, I’ve only suggested plugins for those two platforms.

You can find out if your website is running on Joomla or WordPress via whatcms.org.

WordPress Plugins to Speed up Your Website

There are a few great plugins on WordPress that will optimise the entire website for you, as long as you’re logged in as an administrator for your website. These extensions are free, and even though the providers offer premium (paid) versions, you’re usually fine with the free version.

If you haven’t installed a plugin before, here’s a video which will help you How to Install Plugin in WordPress

W3 Total Cache 

Watch this video of how to configure this plugin on WordPress.

WP Super Cache

Watch this video of how to configure this plugin on WordPress.

Joomla Plugin to Speed up Website

When it comes to Joomla the only FREE and best extension is JCH Optimize The reason is that any other similar extension is either paid for or severely lacking in what the free version offers.

Watch this video of how to configure the JCH Optimize Extension.

Please be aware it’s showing the PRO version. To get the free version, all you need to do is just enable all options that are allowed in the FREE version and you are good to go.

If you haven’t installed extensions in Joomla before, watch this video How to Install Extensions in Joomla.