Accelerating Slow Websites

Slow websites push visitors away; speed yours up

Creating your website—or even editing it—is a complicated undertaking.

Many different parts have to work together to satisfy your visitors, and ultimately, satisfy you.

Yesterday’s Daily pointed to two areas where your website could be tweaked—its labeling and language and its technology—but there are many other areas that could hinder a website’s success.

One of them is how long your website takes to open, or its load time.

It’s a fact: if you make users wait too long, they are going to leave your website and start searching for another one, probably one of your competitors, too. The longer your website takes to load, the more likely users will abandon it.

We at the Mequoda Group use WebsiteOptimization.com, a free page load timer, to test our websites.

That tool will tell you how long it takes your website to load on a range of modems—from 14.4Ks to T1s.

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How slow is too slow?

We use WebsiteOptimization.com’s 56K timing as a benchmark, and then grade in the following rubric:

  • A: Under 15 seconds
  • B: Under 25 seconds
  • C: Under 50 seconds
  • D: Over 50 seconds
  • F: Gave up waiting

You might ask, why use the 56K timing? Believe it or not, people are still using narrowband modems, and although they are in the minority, they are still surfing online. Also, if your website is fast enough to satisfy 56K users, then broadband users will be satisfied by default.

The great thing about this tool is that it also reports what objects are downloaded from your website with their corresponding load times. This tells you exactly what is slowing your website’s load time down.

Fortunately you may not have to delete the objects that are holding up the process. There are various ways to optimize objects for the web.

You can optimize your images when you create them in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. Those programs will let you cut down an image’s resolution, number of colors used or the dither to make the image smaller in bytes, but unfortunately lower in quality.

If it’s an HTML or Java script slowing you down, you may want to hire a programmer to clean it up to make it run faster.

The number of images used can also slow down your load time. If you have a few dozen images on your website, you may want to consider eliminating any that aren’t vital.

Discovering which parts of your website are dragging down its overall effectiveness can be a daunting task. Without extensive studying, you may not even know where to look.

That’s why we at the Mequoda Group created the Website Scorecard, which is featured in our Website Design Reviews.

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