Tools for Optimizing Content Load Times
As wonderful as it is that anyone with broadband Internet access no longer has to deal with waiting several minutes for a single webpage to load over a 56k connection, content creators still can’t get lazy overloading pages with unnecessary content. A website needs to load as quickly as possible to provide visitors with a great user experience. The longer your page takes to load, the more likely a site visitor is going to leave. According to Kissmetrics, the abandonment rate jumps to 25 percent after a mere four seconds. Additionally, search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing actually consider how long a page takes to load when determining search results rankings. If two pages with similar quality content come up in Google Search Results, the one that loads faster is going to appear in the higher position.
Don’t Scare Them Away
Content creators should aim for load times as close to two seconds as possible, but it is permissible for pages to take upwards of four-to-five seconds if the content requires it. Load times are extremely important for building a regular audience, as visitors that experience slow load times are less likely to return. Content creators typically sit behind high-speed connections that can download bloated webpages in just a few seconds which leaves them oblivious to efficiency problems. Mobile users make up more than 60 percent of all web traffic and are less likely to have as fast of a connection. The devices can’t render page content as quickly as a full-fledged desktop or laptop computer. According to a frequently cited Aberdeen Group Study, adding one second to a page’s load time causes a 7 percent drop in conversions and an 11 percent drop in page views. Creators may work on things like Freelance Humor Writing Jobs that involve a substantial amount of media content, which can take a visitor a long time to use. Because load times are important, the content creator needs to make sure that all media they include with the project is both vital to the content and optimally size formatted.
Pingdom Tools to the Rescue
Pingdom Website Speed Test is a fantastic asset to really dig into how quickly websites load and which elements are holding it back. The tool requires a basic familiarity with file types and naming methods. The tool loads your page in real time so you can see each asset load in order. The tool provides color coded timing data that indicates how long each file on the page takes to load and is extremely useful for finding out what is holding back the load time: wider boxes indicate longer load times. Removing the unnecessary assets with the longest bars and the largest file sizes indicated in the “Size” column will improve your content’s load times. Any files you can identify that aren’t adding substantial value to the page should be removed. You can see what the file is by clicking on the file name in the “File/path” column.
The Usual Suspects
Media files can decimate a page’s load time. It’s common for content creators to use the .PNG image file type for its excellent picture quality, but these files can explode to massive sizes and bring page load times to a halt. If you find .PNGs that are more than a few kilobytes in size, try converting them to high-quality .JPG images to dramatically reduce page load times. The .JPG image type isn’t in the clear either and can contribute significant load times when not properly sized. It’s common for users to upload .JPG images from digital cameras that are much larger than what’s actually being displayed on the screen. These images can be resized and cropped without any loss of image quality on the device screen. Each optimized image can trim a half a second off the load time.
Sometimes the images that are obliterating your page’s load times are brought in by things you’re not directly controlling. Social Media widgets from Facebook and Twitter can be pulling in high-quality images that will tack on a few seconds to the page load time. Try limiting these widgets to hub pages like the home page. Additionally, placing too many advertisements on a page can cause load times to grow by a few seconds. Video players typically feature the .JS extension and can contribute a few seconds to the page’s load time even without playing the actual video. It’s pretty common to see video player and video content files chewing up bandwidth but are often important parts of the content. You can work video player issues by removing auxiliary players from pages and content creators should not add video content for the sake of having video content.
If everything looks good on the test and you’re still experiencing long load times, it’s possible that your site’s hosting is unable to keep up with demand. Site hosting services usually include bandwidth measuring tools in the webmaster dashboard which can tell you if it’s time to consider upgrading your hosting.
Dan S is a former news journalist turned web developer and freelance writer. He has a penchant for all things tech and believes the person using the machine is the most important element.