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Time, UX, ROI

Time is everything.

PageSpeed directly impacts your sites UX and therefore your ROI

We’ve all been there; gone to a website and had to wait 4, 5, or 10+ seconds for the page to load. In most cases many of us would just leave the site and find another way to accomplish our goal. It sounds almost silly that we’d be deterred by a few extra seconds here or there, but in a world where technology delivers instant gratification, those few seconds mean the difference between an engaged site visitor and a bounce.

What and Why?

UX is short for user experience. If the user does not have a positive experience when utilizing your site, they’re far less likely to use your service or purchase your product. According to a 2008 report by the Aberdeen Group, “even a one second delay in application response times can significantly impact some of the top business goals…” Many believe this is truer now than ever given the overall increase in the amount of technology driven communication and the sheer number of choices online consumers have.

Getting a Benchmark

There are various tools out there to analyze your page speed and where common slowdowns are occurring. Some give grades and waterfall charts that show simpler representations of your page load, as well as which aspects of the page took longer than others.  

PageSpeed Insights by Google is an important benchmark. PageSpeed Insights results are less technical and less detailed but do give some rather specific information to what Google reads when fetching your site. In addition, you can find recommendations and instructions on how to fix the site's issues in the results.

WebPageTest.org is a fantastic resource for seeing this breakdown. If you’re more of a novice and unsure what all the details mean, the simple grading system makes it easier to get a ‘feel’ for how your site is performing.

A screen shot of a Web Page performance test
Here are www.LocalLink.com’s homepage test results.

  • First Byte Time (TTFB): indicates the response time of the server and other web resources.
  • Keep-alive Enabled: this indicates if the persistent connection between client and server has been enabled.
  • Compress Transfer: indicates how much of the content is being compressed to improve speed.
  • Compress Images: indicates how well optimized the images are.
  • Cache Static Content: indicates how much of the content has been cached by your website.
  • Effective Use of CDN: a CDN, or content delivery network, indicates if a CDN has been set up to cache content on various servers at different geographic locations.

GTmetrix.com is another website that allows you to analyze your speed quickly. This site uses two different ways to test your site, PageSpeed score and the YSlow score, allowing you to see the differences in experiences. The site goes on to give recommendations as to how you can improve your score.

Where to go next…

Once you have your benchmark score you can then take a serious look at the results and determine what changes are possible and/or necessary. Not every recommendation is necessarily the best option for your website.

For example, from a technical standpoint, you may be receiving a lower score because of the number of external Javascript calls your page is making. Though aggregation tools are available for most content management systems (CMS) there are times when the JavaScript’s that modules or plugins use should not be combined.

If you’re looking at it from a more UX point of view, you may be willing to sacrifice a minor amount of the page's loading speed if you feel it better appeals to your audience. A photographer or someone whose customers need to see more, higher quality images to reach their target may be willing to sacrifice a small amount of the overall page load time to best meet those needs.

Once you’ve identified which areas you’d like to focus on, you can then go through your site to improve it’s overall grade. Some action items may be as simple as optimizing an image or adding a simple caching plugin to your site. Other optimization techniques may be more involved and require a developer’s touch.

Bottom Line

User experience is everything and their time is money. For the best return on investment from your online presence your PageSpeed needs to be addressed. There are simple ways to test it and if your scores are good, only a few seconds per page, than you’re in a great spot. If not there are some simple changes your website manager should be able to make. There may be changes you need to make with the website developer or your host. Contact us if you need help analyzing your results or addressing any issues.