Today’s websites are more engaging than ever before. With professional videos, intricate load screens, and colorful images, there’s a lot for your eyes to focus on. When those elements work well, the site is one we return to again and again. However, when we’re left staring at a blank screen and watching a circle spin continuously on our browser, we’re quick to exit the site and never return.

The Waiting Game

Website speed is one of the most important elements when it comes to your website’s usability. In this age of instant gratification, where social media delivers us news in real-time and the new shirt you Hand on a computer mouse.just ordered online can be delivered to your doorstep within the hour, we’ve discovered that we’re a group of people who don’t like to wait for anything. How often do you find yourself tapping your foot in a store’s queue, or staring anxiously at the line of cars ahead of you at a stoplight? How often do you find yourself growing frustrated with a website as it takes more than a second or two to navigate to the page you want?

A lot of us. In fact, nearly half of us expect a site to load within two seconds (though studies show we would prefer it to only take 0.1 second). After three seconds, 40% of us will have turned our attention elsewhere, to a competing site perhaps.

Your site can have the most beautiful design. It can have the most engaging content. It may tell your users everything they need and want to know. However, if it can’t load in a timely manner, users won’t stick around long enough to see all it has to offer.

What You’re Missing

As little as a one-second delay on your website can have an impact that lasts a lot longer than one second, one day, or even one year. Such a minuscule delay can lead to an 11% decrease in page views, a 16% decrease in customer experience, and a 7% decrease in conversions. But that’s not all.

Your Google’s search results ranking will suffer. Your site’s speed plays a huge role in Google’s algorithm and has become a major facet in SEO optimization. Google and other search engines also have a harder time crawling sites that run slowly.

In addition, Facebook’s News Feed shows preference to companies that have sites with fast load times. The social media company measures the amount of time it takes a user who clicks on a News Feed link to be taken to the site. Sites that load faster will be given higher priority, which will ensure more visibility.

Boosting Speed (and Conversions)

If your website speed is slow, you’re losing out on page views, you’re losing out on conversions, and you’re losing out on publicity. So how can you give your website’s speed, your conversion rate, and your users’ experience a boost?

  • Clean up your code. Take a look at your code and remove any unused code, as well as extra spaces, commas, and other characters.
  • Use smaller images. Don’t use large images on your site if you don’t need to. Make sure they’re compressed. Also, save them in the proper format (PNGs for logos and JPEGS for quality photographs).
  • Eliminate redirects. Every redirect adds additional wait time to your site’s load speed, so try to eliminate their use on your site.
  • Filter out plugins. Are there any social media plugins you use? Or review plugins from third party websites? In CMS programs like WordPress, plugins contribute to a majority of the load time. Filter out the plugins you don’t need.
  • Enable caching. When you enable caching, your site is stored on a user’s browser so it loads faster the next time they come to visit.
  • Disguise with Design. If your website has a load time that lags, no matter what you do, try disguising the delay with a better design, one that engages users and helps them forget that they’re waiting. For example, Orbitz populates fake data while real data loads in the back end.

It’s best to start small instead of changing your web host. Chances are that it’s something as little as images or plugins causing your site to delay. However, if you try all of the above steps and your site still doesn’t have the speed both you and your users expect, it’s time to check out the larger issues it may be facing.

Want to test out your website speed for yourself? Try Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

If you gave your website speed a test using the link above and you discovered that it’s performing a lot slower than you originally thought, find a UI/UX team who can help you give it the speed it needs to better engage visitors and keep them returning again and again.