When you click on a page, you expect it to pop up instantaneously. That’s just what we’re used to getting.
So when we encounter a slow-loading website, we immediately feel the frustration rising from the depths of our being.
The thing is, though, the internet is quick but it’s not magic.
There are a thousand things that happen “backstage” before the fully loaded page appears on your screen. These little things make or break the speed of your website.
Why does my page have to load immediately?
A swift response is the standard expectation of internet users when opening a website. Having them wait for longer than usual eats away at the visitor’s overall user experience (UX).
Obviously, unhappy customers won’t likely be coming back for seconds. In the bigger picture, this also affects your conversion rate, which is the ratio of your visitors becoming paying customers or clients.
In case it’s not painfully clear yet, low UX = low conversion = bad business.
Another reason why a slow loading page should concern every website showrunner is that speed factors in on search engine rankings.
Top search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, all use specific metrics in ranking what comes up on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and one of them is how fast a page load. Snappy websites usually get first dibs on the top slates for better visibility and in turn, busier website traffic.
If you want to be on the podium, you have to win the race.
But before subjecting changes to your page’s settings, you might want to diagnose reasons for slow web loading on your page.
Tools like Pingdom or Google Pagespeed Insights not only tell you how fast your page is but can also give you a detailed report that you can optimize when following the steps I suggested below.
Why is my website slow?
As I explained earlier, when you load a page, a lot of processes get triggered to build what you see on the screen.
While there are factors that you have no control over, let’s focus instead on the ones that you can modify to give you a better advantage.
I listed down some slow website troubleshooting tips:
Subpar server performance
Fundamentally, when you click or press Enter on your computer, it triggers a series of requests from your desktop to its server to open the page. The amount of time it takes for data to go to-and-fro is called ping.
Yes, that’s right. As in ping pong balls volleying back and forth a ping pong table.
When your ping is slow, it could be because your servers are maxed out with multiple tasks from requests. And since there are thousands upon thousands of users in a given area, it can bring the response time down to a crawl.
When you use a cheap web hosting service, it’s also possible that they’re sharing the server with others that also drag your speed down.
The Fix: You can explore a subscription-type platform for your business page as paid servers usually deliver acceptable (some even beyond expected) performance in terms of server response time.
Dense file formats
Like every single part of the page, photos or videos also need to be requested into existence every time it’s opened.
This means, the heavier the files you attach, the longer it takes for them to get delivered. It’s just how physics works.
File formats like JPG, PNG, or GIFs are easy enough to load. However, TIFF or BMPs take more time to open. As do videos.
If you’re worrying if I’m going to suggest you take them down altogether, don’t. Because I won’t.
I get it. Pictures and short clips make for a better experience on the website which is a must in keeping your business profile chic and interactive.
The fix: You can use photos in lower resolutions to lighten the load OR use tools like TinyJPG that scale your files down to manageable portions.
Have your videos embedded into your database or have them hosted or linked externally for easier access.
You’re probably wondering how our computers (and internet connection) keep up when we open a gazillion tabs at a time.
Aside from the fact that computers are crazy powerful and efficient, the sneaky trick of the trade is using cache in browsers.
What it does is saves the major elements of a webpage on your browser or computers so when you decide to visit it again, it doesn’t have to load everything from scratch. It can scrape the requests for new data and only send those to save time.
That’s why you can switch tabs on a website and still keep the page as it was after it loaded. Or why your Facebook page still has the pictures and posts it had before you lost your internet connection.
Handy isn’t it?
Albeit its nifty contribution to your page loading faster, sometimes it can cause a snag and bring your page productivity down when old cache piles up and clogs the traffic for newer ones.
The fix: One of the common quick fixes for when pages don’t load properly is — yes, I know you know it, to clear your browser’s cache and cookies.
Another option is to apply cache-optimizing plugins like OPCache which is enabled by default on some hosting platforms like WordPress. But if you don’t have one on yours, you can opt for plugins like WPSuperCache that serve the same purpose.
If your company page is subscribed to a website developing service, you can consult your team on caching solutions that can be applied to keep your website sprightly. When you have a developer working for you, you have better control over what can and can’t be cached so you can keep your business page optimized.
Excessive file requests
We’ve now established that opening a website isn’t one Abrakadabra away. Every little feature added weighs in on the overall loading speed and every millisecond counts. But of course, we have to balance what can and can’t be spared down for the sake of a quicker page.
With that in mind, let’s hash out some of those features that count for something where speed vs presentation is concerned.
However, if you set up too many automated requests and actions (like elaborate segments), your page gets overwhelmed and becomes sluggish.
If you subscribed to a site developing service to manage your online space, you probably have a lot of say with how your website would look. Fonts, pop-ups, and other minute elements on the pages can be adjusted to your brand image when you have a dev to make it so.
This aspect on your page is made through Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) which determines the structural appearance of your website.
Every section with a different font, style, or similar elements will need a separate CSS written for it.
So if you get just a tad bit overeager with multiple types of headings and features, it will mean a longer code. And the more extensive the code, the more time it takes for it to load also gets prolonged.
The fix: Group similar concepts and functions together to lessen the code that needs to be written for every page.
Let’s not take “The Devil is in the details” too seriously. As long as your page represents your ideal branding, you’re set.
Unclean script on your web build
The first rule of writing code: Write clean code. The second rule of writing code: follow the best practices.
If your web host or developer didn’t follow these rules, then it’s likely that the script your page runs is bloated and unnecessarily lengthy.
If you have no idea what I just said, then here’s the low-down: to create your website and get it running, multiple scripts need to be written.
Script is the code that sends a request to servers for data. The data is then used to execute automated behaviors within your page.
To cut the long story short, it makes your page perform the needed functions such as going to the landing page whenever you click Home. Or to trigger a pop-up for newsletter subscription for visitors on your site.
These are what developers use to create working systems on your websites and other tools for more complex behaviors.
As with mathematical equations where 4+4 is 8, but 2+2+2+2 is also 8, there are many ways to write code that gets you the same result. Using best practices, then, is the shortest route that generates the best result.
In some cases, when developers update their code, they don’t erase the older scripts (either because they’re in a hurry to fulfill client requests or aren’t the original developer) that they’ve replaced or rewritten.
And because computers don’t discriminate between newer or older scripts, they still load everything from the top anyways. This is additional “bloat” on your page.
You also have the option to consult with a web developer or developing services to “clean up” your codes for better overall site performance.
Speed is important in creating a positive user experience and optimizing search engine metrics as it contributes substantially to your conversion rate.
Certain factors slow your website down:
Subpar Server Performance can be fixed by checking out paid hosting services with better servers.
Dense file formats that can be compressed or embedded for faster loading.
Caching snag that can easily be dealt with plugins and clearing cache history.
Excessive file requests can be pared down by grouping similar facets into one request OR using inline code vs external.
Unclean code on your web build that can be corrected by minifying or consulting with experts.
The success of your website heavily relies on its ability to perform at its peak with speed and efficiency. You don’t want frustrated users closing their doors (or in this case, browser windows) on you because it took forever to open your page. Check out how else you can compete with the best-performing websites HERE!