Web Design

Website loading speed: Why does it matter?

Chloe Toogood
20th November 2022
4 minute read

Nowadays, the majority of businesses have an online presence, just as much as consumers have moved their shopping and browsing habits to the online sphere.

Things like UX/UI design, and content are what people generally focus on when they click on to a website, the overall loading speed is usually forgotten when it comes to understanding what makes a good website. This is one of the most important things to consider when building a website, and for consumers, it actually matters a lot more than they tend to realise.

There are multiple factors that can affect a site’s loading speed, and we’re going to delve into why it’s important, the effect that slow speeds have, and how you can go about improving it.


What is loading speed?

It’s pretty self-explanatory, but the loading speed refers to the amount of time that it takes for a website to load with full functionality after having clicked on the link on the SERP (search engine results page) from the browser.

As technology has improved so rapidly over the past decade or so, consumers are getting more and more impatient when it comes to waiting for websites to load, so it is imperative that your site’s loading speed is quick, and that your website is responsive overall.

Hey, nobody likes to wait!

Why is loading speed so important?

There are numerous aspects that factor in to the importance of loading speed, with the main, and most significant ones being:

  • Conversion rates: there have been various studies done that show how bad loading speeds can affect the conversion rate, with one study showing that pages that could load within 2.4 seconds had a 1.9% conversion rate, whereas sites which had a loading speed of anything more than 5.7% only managed a 0.6% conversion rate.
  • User Experience (UX): it goes without saying that consumers have high expectations when it comes to loading a site, with 47% of them expecting a webpage to load within 2 seconds. By lengthening the amount of time that consumers have to wait, it can increase frustration, leading to them leaving the page and having a negative user experience, which won’t leave them coming back to try again.
  • Bounce Rate: following on from the UX, the bounce rate is the rate at which consumers leave the webpage (that we can assume still hasn’t loaded) and return to the SERP. This bounce rate is intertwined with the conversion rate, as if you have no one visiting your site, then the conversion rate will be pretty much non-existent, which is no good for anyone. A study performed by the BBC found that for each extra second that their page took to load, they lost 10% of their overall users, which clearly shows how important it is to maintain good loading speeds.
  • SEO: we know that loading speed is one of the criteria used by Google to rank websites in its algorithm, because as a browser, they aim to get as much information delivered to the consumer as quickly as possible. This means that it favours webpages that can load quickly, and as a result, the page will fare better in their algorithm and appear higher in the search results.


How can you improve website loading speeds?

So, what can you do to improve a slow loading site? It is not as tricky as you may be expecting, and doesn’t have to take up lots of your time.

There are a couple of ways in which you can optimise this:

  • Images and Videos: images are a staple and standard for every website, and many websites now feature videos of some kind too. Having images that are too big for the website, or having far too many than what the website was built to hold can have an incredibly detrimental effect on the time it takes for the webpage to load. This is one of the easiest ways to try and up the loading speed as all you would need to do is compress the images, minimising their ‘weight’, therefore encouraging the site to load a lot quicker.
  • Minify code: Minify is just a fancy word which means to remove parts of unnecessary code, while maintaining its functionality. By minifying the CSS, JavaScript, and HTML code you reduce the size of the files, thereby improving the loading speed.
    While this isn’t a very time effective solution, it can definitely benefit your site, and you can even get plugins that do it for you, so there’s no need to be trawling through every line of code on your website.
  • Get rid of unneeded plugins: speaking of plugins, there is such a thing as too many, and having an excess of them can significantly slow down your site, especially if they are older and not maintained very well. It’s important to have a look and review any plugins that you have currently, and decide whether you actually need them, and if they benefit your site in any way.

Some may have similar functionalities meaning that you may be able to reduce the amount that you have. This should be done somewhat regularly so that you can stay on top of the loading speed of your website, making sure that you don’t end up having issues further down the line.


What’s the breakdown?

As we’ve established, the loading speed on your site is something that holds a huge amount of importance. Not only does it have a functional effect on your site, but it also has an effect on consumers and the way they interact with it.

Speed testing your website before allowing it to go live is a sure-fire way to check and see if the loading speed is at an acceptable rate, and should be done across all platforms, especially checking for responsiveness on mobile. If your website is slow, consumers will just find another, faster website to visit and carry out business there.

Don’t face losing business over something which can be relatively easily rectified, as the repercussions of having slow loading speeds can significantly affect any custom that was trying to come your way.

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