What is page load speed?
Improving your page load speed is not more important than ever. Read this article by Brian (Backlinko) about how a website which loads faster is preferred by Google in voice searches.
Page load speed is time is takes for contents of a page to load completely.
Which is, the time is taken for anyone to enter your URL in the browser(or clicks a link), press enter the home page loads completely.
Factors affecting page load speed
As a website is hosted on a server, when your server receives a request to display the web page, it sends everything related to that page to the requester.
This brings in lots of factors into the play, like server specs, network quality, page design and in the end data to be transferred.
There are few factors which are beyond your control, but then they affect everyone, so it doesn’t matter much.
The factors, which are in your control are:
- Website Design: Be minimalistic ( not stingy ) about using extra effects, plugins, animation on your website. Every line of code that you add to your page, adds up to this loading time of your web page.
- Images: Use of properly formatted, compressed images can shave of ‘seconds’ of the page loading time. So, go easy on those high-resolution multiple images!
- Cache validator: A cache validator tells the browser ( or visitor of the website) which part of the web page to be loaded each time and what can be skipped from reloading as the information is still same.
- Hosting: This one goes without saying that a good hosting solution is paramount for good page load speed(among other important factors).
- CDN: Unless your website is geographically hosted closer to the majority of viewers, a cloud distribution network helps a lot in good website browsing experience.
The good news is that, with a little bit of research and planning, most of these factors can be handled with ease.
There are plenty of good well, well explained, articles online detailing into steps you can take to increase page load speed and how to do it. Here are few of them:
The main point is, you can’t optimize everything, as it will take the focus away from what the website is all about. There are few main things that you need to take care of.
These are the important factor that affects your website, regardless of the platform you choose for your website:
- Hosting: Hosting as a solution is dependent on service provider. No need to go for the most expensive package. Simple shared hosting for static sites and managed hosting for WordPress is more than enough. For hosting you can use, siteground, inmotion, Bluehost (only shared hosting). When you choose managed hosting (where the cost is not nearly equal to shared hosting) on these sites, then server-side optimization is taken care of.
- Theme: If you are coding your own theme, then just be careful about one thing: Don’t go overboard with the fancy look of the site. Every library you call for that will only add into the files to be loaded before the page is loaded. Thus adding to page load speed. Or You can buy a well-optimized premium theme. It saves a trouble as these themes are well supported by their developers. You can look into ThemeForest, Genesis
- CDN (Content Distribution Network): Cloudflare works well with plenty of websites quite well. Though, if you are Amazon AWS user and like to play with backend settings, then CloudFront is also a good choice. Apart from that premium options are CDN77, MaxCDN( most expensive), Akamai etc.
Are these the only factors?
Quite frankly, No.
The points mentioned above are what you will get inbuilt in most of hosting solution, but still, you will see that lot of difference in the way most of the website are experienced by users.
Take, for example, medium.com itself. This is one of the biggest publication on the internet currently with more than 50 million users per month.
Now if you check Medium.com on Google page load insights, then the results will make you wonder:
Still, the user experience is awesome and numbers are the proof. How do they manage that, especially with these numbers of page insight?
The reason is that team behind medium.com works day and night to make the experience awesome. On top of that, they employ good CDN for earliest possible delivery of content to the user.
So what does that mean for you?
It means, go through your website like a visitor who is new and has little interest in the technology behind the site. Go through the flow of the content, buttons, placements, colour scheme etc.
Then remove (if you had already added) anything that doesn’t serve the basic purpose of the viewer. As you can see on medium.com website, there are lots of whitespaces. This is done to keep the visitors focussed: On reading awesome stuff.
Remember, it is their experience that matters. After all, this topic of page load speed came from loading speed on visitors device only.
From my experience, a lot of page loading speed depends on how the website is designed: theme, plugins and effects etc. You sort that out and this factor is taken care of
Now to the other factor too.
Another factor that effects page loading speed is proper responsiveness of any website.
Anyone who is accessing your website from a mobile device is more interested in information that the content is providing and not in the any of the fancy effects.
This becomes more important with recent growth in mobile-based searches and access of online data. There are higher chances of your website visitor to come from a mobile device then let’s say a desktop.
A well designed responsive website takes care of these issues but having media breakpoints a correct pixel as well as not loading certain elements on mobile devices at all.
How responsive website effects page load speed?
Despite the improved connection speed, a mobile has limited processing power as compared to a laptop or desktop. Which means if content provided is optimized for mobile, it will be processed faster.
A responsive website is just that, a content which is optimized according to the viewer.Thus, it reduces the data and processing of that, which is required for loading of page and information on a mobile device.
Even small things like few sections of the page not loaded on mobile view mean faster-loading website.
Moreover, as you can see from google page insights (and elsewhere) that Google give higher priority to mobile-optimized websites. Thus it helps in your page ranking too.
Page load speed is an important factor but this is not the only factor. There are other factors which affect the user’s experience. You can do limited things about increasing the page load time. Once that is done, other factors take control.
Then there is content, schema, backlinks etc. which will bring more traffic to your website.
The following statement may sound counter to everything I mentioned above but still, it holds true:
Don’t fret yourself into trying to reach 100/100 rating on page load insights.
Anything above 80 is good enough. After that, you should focus on user experience and how you present the content.
So, if you are designing your website yourself, buy a good theme, modify it as per your website and get going.
Over time, you can always improvise depending on the feedback you receive!
I always read feedback and comments. It will be kind of you to share your thoughts in comment section below or via email.