Speed and Responsiveness Matter for Your Online Presence
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Having a website is the first step in creating your online presence. Then you need to keep it up to date and add content to stay relevant. But there’s a third element, one which many businesses overlook. It’s the speed of your website. Do your pages take too long to load? Is your site sluggish?
Know that in today’s I-want-it-now world, impatient people won’t wait for a slow site to display its content. They’ll bounce. When they do, they’ll go to your competitor. Each tenth of a second of delay increases the likelihood of someone leaving your site in frustration.
Yet this is a problem you can solve. Here are some items to consider.
The biggest factor influencing a website speed is the hosting. Shared hosting is the cheapest option and the slowest. This is because hundreds, likely thousands, of websites all run through one server. If anyone of them has problems or encounters traffic spikes, every site on that server will suffer.
The key is to move away from shared hosting. Making this change is the quickest way to increase the speed of your website. Though there are many options once you move past shared hosting, all of them will provide a faster, more responsive website. And all of them will cost more.
Though you’ll pay more for faster website hosting, this is not a place to skimp.
The images on your website also impact its operation. A site with no pictures will be faster than one with images, but today’s users expect visuals on a website. A straight-text site will be off putting. It will also look quite dated.
The first consideration is image format. Though PNG files have a higher quality, JPG files are perfect for online, and they’re also much smaller. Though exceptions exist, converting PNG files to JPG results in a much smaller file size. And smaller loads faster.
For pages with several graphics, using JPG files over PNG will result in quicker load times.
Another consideration is the dimensions of the graphic. Though websites will resize large graphics to fit smaller spaces, the better solution is to upload the right sized image to begin with. Don’t weigh your sight down with large images that you’ll never display as full-size graphics.
A third consideration is bogging down your website with features you don’t use or don’t need. For WordPress, which accounts for over 40 percent of all websites, these extra options are called plugins and widgets. Other platforms use names such as apps, extensions, or add-ons.
Only install the features you need and delete everything you don’t use. Also consider the utility of each feature. Does it truly add value to your site, or does it just look cool?
The fewer things running in the background of your website, the faster it will load and the less problems you will encounter. It’s an ideal example of the saying that “less is more.”
Don’t accept a slow website, as it will cause you to lose business and frustrate users. Instead take steps to make your website faster. This will cost some money and take time, but it’s an investment worth making.
Learn more in Peter Lyle DeHaan’s book, How to Start a Telephone Answering Service.
Peter Lyle DeHaan is an entrepreneur and businessman who has managed, owned, and started multiple businesses over his career. Recurring themes included customer service, sales and marketing, and leadership and management.
He shares his lifetime of business experience and personal insights through his books and posts.