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Why a Fast Loading Website is Crucial

Image provided by: {link:http://www.dreamstime.com/}Steven Neil, Dreamstime.com{/link}

If you’re looking to invest in your website it’s important to understand the importance of fast loading websites. To improve your software companies’ revenue consider focusing on improving your application’s speed and load time performance.

Statistics show that fast loading websites have a measurable effect on revenue and user experience. Usability studies also show how much users hate slow loading websites and applications.

The Importance Website Performance Has on Revenue & Experience

  • Shopzilla increased page load time from 6 seconds to 1.2 seconds and increased revenue by 12% and page views by 25%.
  • Amazon increased revenue by 1% for every 100 milliseconds of improvement.
  • AOL documents that visitors in the top 10th percentile of site speed viewed 50% more pages than visitors in the bottom 10th percentile.
  • Yahoo! increased traffic by 9% for every 400 milliseconds of improvement.
  • By reducing the website by 2.2 seconds Mozilla estimates that 60 million more Firefox downloads occur every year.

Source: Make Data Useful by Greg Linden at Amazon

Google Rankings Influenced by Site Speed

Google recently announced that they are using their Site Speed metric in their ranking algorithm, giving software businesses that rely on search engines for marketing another reason to begin optimizing their application for speed.

Don’t confuse this with your Page Speed score, which tells you how to make fast loading websites even faster. The metric Google is using can be found in Google Analytics under Content > Site Speed.

“You may have heard that here at Google we’re obsessed with speed, in our products and on the web. As part of that effort, today we’re including a new signal in our search ranking algorithms: site speed.”
Google Webmaster Central Blog

Measure Your Website

Before you can improve you must accurately measure the speed of your website today. How can you know if fast loading websites is something you should focus on without checking? Many tools have been created specifically for this purpose. I suggest using the following free, web-based tools to measure the time is takes to load your existing website or application:

  • Page Speed — Created by Google, this web-based tool evaluates the performance of web pages and gives detailed suggestions for improvement
  • Pingdom Tools: Load Time Test — A free online tool to test the load time, analyze and find bottlenecks of a given web page from the perspective of a first time visitor.
  • Google Analytics: Site Speed Report — The Site Speed report allows you can measure the page load time across your site. It was introduced with the latest release of Google Analytics, so be sure you are using the newest version.
  • YSlow — A free tool created by Yahoo!’s development team. It analyzes web pages and suggests ways to improve their performance based on a set of rules for high performance web pages.

These tools will tell you more than you need, however each will provide the number of seconds it takes to load your website. You can use this as a metric to measure the effectiveness of the changes your agency or creative team make.

In Conclusion

Do you have a better understanding of the importance of website speed? At this point, I hope so. If you’re itching for a more in depth look at the specifics of how to improve your website performance I recommend checking out my related post, “5 Best Ways to Speed Up Your Website”.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask!

Principal Front-end Engineer

Kevin is the Principal Front-end Engineer at MIT Technology Review. He specializes in building and designing websites and products. He also writes articles at Smashing Magazine and CSS Tricks. Before MIT Technology Review, Kevin was the Manager of Web Operations at RapidMiner.
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