When considering ways to increase your conversions in the new year, few methods will give you as much bang for your buck as optimizing the load times on your website. I could preach all day on new marketing techniques to add to your arsenal and how they would galvanize your workflow, but improving customer experience is an effective way to increase traffic and encourage return visits.
Why Should You Speed Up Your Site?
With media bombarding viewers everywhere they look, consumer attention is a very scarce resource. This scarcity dictates the playing field for marketing, providing the very foundation for why we do what we do: grabbing people’s attention.
According to research conducted by Google in 2018, 53% of mobile users leave a site that takes longer than three seconds to load. And with the average mobile site taking 5 seconds to load, that means most websites are losing out on potential conversions because of two seconds. With this trend carrying over to other browsing devices, it is more critical than ever to have a fast loading site to retain customers and increase conversions. Are you going to let two seconds cost you potential revenue?
Didn’t think so.
Here’s some advice on how to take control of your site speed on WordPress.
Think small, reduce the strain on your website.
Although it may be tempting to chase a cure-all solution to solve your problems once and for all—such as a few page optimizing plugins—you may want to change your thinking. One of the greatest benefits of using WordPress can easily become its greatest detriment if you let it. Many users getting started with the platform are tempted to pack on layers upon layers of plugins in a quest to build a website that suits their visions of functionality and aesthetics. But this bloating of your website can significantly bog down your speed, as you’d have far too much going on behind the scenes when a page loads.
Instead, consider fixing small issues on your website to influence your speed. Try to reduce the number of elements on your pages so the site doesn’t have to work so hard. Can that slider be replaced by an image? Do you really need that video background? Animation especially can be a silent killer due to taking up a large chunk of operating capacity as opposed to a static alternative. Although design is very important, function should always come first.
Reduce or compress your images.
I’ve fallen victim to this one far more than I’d like to admit. When uploading images to your WordPress media gallery, it can be easy to forget about the images’ size in relation to the specific spots you intend to place them. If the intended frame is only 500 x 500 pixels, but your image is 1700 x 1396 pixels, your site is going to struggle every time it has to load it. Like zipping a pair of jeans 4 sizes too small, the image is being crammed into a space it does not fit, and so requires more resources to display than a properly sized image would.
Resize your image with photo editing software like Photoshop, an online resizer, or even using the built-in image editor in WordPress. Once it is a better fit, you’ll find that your images will load much faster, taxing the website less and shaving a bit of time off your overall load time.
Not all plugins are bad.
Don’t take my warning against too many plugins to mean that you shouldn’t use any plugins to help your speed. Quality trumps quantity here, so make sure you’re using plugins that have been updated frequently and boast high installation numbers. The Smush Image and Compression plugin is an excellent choice that takes the guesswork out of speed optimization, allowing you to optimize all the images on your site with a single click—with the pro version anyway.
But if you’re like me, you don’t want to spend any more than necessary when juggling costs for hosting, themes, and other preexisting expenses. You can use the Smush plugin for free, but it will only optimize 50 images at a time, which still isn’t too bad. Just make sure to regularly include Smushing into your workflow during maintenance, and you’ll find this tool to be more than capable for the wonderful price of $0.00.
Get detailed reports of your site’s weak points.
Now of course, the ultimate test of your website speed is to simply load it up and gauge your annoyance levels. But if you crave a little more method to your madness, try visiting gtmetrix.com. This is a handy little site that gives you a comprehensive rating for all the factors affecting your site speed. Just type in your URL and watch it generate a report grading everything your site does well and areas you can improve.
These tips should get you moving in the right direction to start taking control of your site speed, but if you ever find that you need some expertise, Alto Rose is here to help. Get in touch today.