Hartley Brody

Is your website too slow to keep visitors around?

As the proud owner of a website, you’ve probably spent a lot of time thinking about ways to make your site more valuable to your visitors. You’ve organized the navigation nicely, and put functionality like search and social media links in intuitive locations.

But none of that careful planning will matter if your website visitors don’t stick around long enough to see it. There’s a common adage among webmasters known as the “8-second rule”. If your website takes longer than 8 seconds to load, the average user will get frustrated and leave. And even if they stick around for that page, they’re more likely to grow frustrated with your site as they browse around.

Here’s the data to back it up.

site speed

Check out these 3 steps to find your slow points, speed up your site and keep visitors coming back.

1. Have your site analyzed

The first problem is that a lot of times site owners do not realize that their own site is slow. Once you visit a website, your browser usually caches a lot of resources, storing them locally on you computer and reducing the page load times. However, new site visitors won’t have anything cached from your site yet, so they’ll see your site at its slowest.

Pingdom has a great free tool that shows you each of the various components that are downloaded when someone visits your website. Not only does it tell you what was loaded, it also tells you how long it took to load each item.

You should run a report on your site right now!

Note: the tool is a little buggy for me in Chrome, so I’d recommend using Firefox.

2. Look for resources that are slow

If your pingdom report shows a few items with very large blue bars, that means that those items took awhile to download.

If they’re images, you might want to try using smaller versions if possible to improve page load times.

If the slow files contain text, you should “minify” the files. Minification is the process of stripping out unnecessary characters from a file, like spaces, line breaks and comments. A lot of time, these are built into files to make it easier for humans to read the code, but they’re not necessary for the code to be read by a computer, and they can make files much larger than necessary. There are a number of free tools that will do this for you online if you’re unsure what should be deleted.

3. Determine if your server is slow

Sometimes, you’ve done all you can to reduce the load time of your website, but your web server is just too slow for it to matter. If you notice a lot of longer green bars in your Pingdom report, that might be a sign that you’re web server is too slow and that it’s time for an upgrade.

If you’re on shared hosting and your site is getting thousands of hits a day, you should consider an upgrade to a Virtual Private Server (VPS). If you’re already on a VPS, consider upgrading to either a dedicated server or a cloud-based solution.

There’s are always ways to make your site faster. Some methods are free, and some are more pricey, but they all add value to your website visitors, which will make your site even more successful.