Non-techy ways to speed up your website
The other day I saw a Facebook ad that piqued my interest. So I went ahead and clicked the ad to learn more.
But then my phone just stared blankly back at me.
A few seconds passed. Then a few more. A status bar began to creep across the top.
Ah, well, I don’t need it that bad, I thought.
I hit the x and moved on with my day.
I don’t know if I would have ultimately bought the product that I was interested in. But I never even got to the point of considering it all because the website was slow.
I’m actually among the more patient of website visitors. Statistics show for each second load time increases, people become more and more likely to bounce.
Source: Think with Google.
You have mere seconds. That’s it.
Website speed is directly correlated with conversions. The slower your site is, the less likely people are to buy.
Website speed is also among the many factors Google takes into account when it ranks websites. A speedy site makes users happy, and Google likes to serve up websites that do that. The faster your site is the more likely you will end up on page one for search terms.
Google’s ideal is a 3-second load speed. Most websites don’t come close to that.
Raise your hand if you know what any of that means.
I know that most of you are solopreneurs, moms juggling businesses and family life, or service providers with multiple clients. Web development is not your field. You didn’t get into your business to have to “minify and combine files” in your website code. My guess is the thought of trying is overwhelming.
So I am giving you a list of the very basics that could help speed up your site. If seconds make a difference, it’s worth it right?
Some day, you will be to the point in your business that you can hire a developer to handle speeding up your site in more complex ways. (Hey, I believe in you).
But if you are not there yet, there are some simple ways to shave off seconds on your load time.
Start with testing your existing site speed using a tool like Google Pagespeed Insights, GT Metrix, Pingdom or Page Weight. Don’t get too discouraged if you see a lot of red in your results. That is normal.
Then, try these four ways to increase your website speed.
1. Optimize your photo sizes
Photos are a crucial part of our website. They offer visuals to capture our visitors' attention.
But photos can be huge files. Especially if they are professional photos from a DSL camera.
There are ways to shrink down the size of a photo without affecting its quality.
First, try to crop photos to the size you need. If you know your photo will appear at 300 pixels wide, make it that size first.
For images that stretch across your whole site, use 2,560 pixels for width, which is the standard size of 27 and 30 inch monitors. Choose whatever height you prefer.
For smaller photos, the size will vary depending on the use.
You can figure out what size you need with a browser extension ruler that allows you to take measurements.
Or ,while viewing your website in a browser, right click and select “inspect.” In the upper right corner of the window that opens, click the little arrow that says, “select an element in the page to inspect” and click the container where the photo is. It will highlight the section in the code that is your photo, and if you hover over it, the dimensions appear below a little thumbnail of the photo.
At the least, use software to further compress your photos.
One of my favorite tools to do this is Compressor.io. Simply open the site, click select files and upload them.(I keep it on the default setting of “lossy” for jpeg files) Compressor will automatically compress the photo. When it is finished, you can click download.
The “compare” button will show you the difference between the two files.
If you have a WordPress site, you can use plugins such as WP Smush or Imsanity. They will automatically compress your photos as you upload them.
Another option is to use Photoshop’s, “save for web.” That will allow you to pick the pixel dimensions when you export a photo.
2. Don’t fill pages with lots of widgets, videos, and special plug ins.
It’s tempting to add all the bells and whistles to your site to grab people’s attention. But in addition to being distracting and confusing, too many special features can slow down your load time.
Be sparing with adding things like video, third-party apps and other elements.
Only use what is important and will serve to get your visitors to take the next step. You don't need your Instagram feed and your YouTube feed and a video introduction all on one page.
3. Trim down your mobile version
Mobile phones aren’t as powerful as desktop computers, so they will load slower.
On top of that, mobile searches are now outranking desktop searches, so there is a good chance a large percentage of your website visitors are on a mobile phone.
So for your mobile version, strip down all the extras and stick with the basics. Get rid of anything on mobile that isn’t absolutely necessary.
4. Use Google fonts or WOFF2 font files
This one is less likely to have a huge impact, but every little bit helps.
If you use custom fonts on your site, it is one more thing that takes time to load. Google has a selection of fonts preloaded in browsers and available for free on Google Fonts. They usually load faster and are less likely to be replaced with something else. Look for fonts similar to your brand fonts to use on your website on Google fonts.
If you need a custom font, use the most up to date file types. Right now, they are Web Open Font Format 2 (WOFF2). When you purchase a font, make sure you select that file type to download and install it on your site.
It can take some work to speed up your site, but like I said, every second counts. The faster your site is, the more likely people will buy from you or fill out a contact form.
The good news is, if your site is fast, it will stand out because not a lot of businesses put much energy into increasing their website speed.
Spending some time and energy on even the small steps I listed above is worth it if you want to increase your sales.