Here's Why Your Website Might Be Loading Slowly And How You Can Fix It

Photo: Paula Bronstein/ Getty

When it comes to running an online business, speed and efficiency is vital for growth, customer loyalty and success.

But the mechanics behind how to achieve this are often hard to understand and therefore overlooked.

The CEO of Squixa, Stewart McGrath, an Australian startup which helps to solve website performance problems and speed up web page loading times, says website speed is often an after thought during website development.

“Website performance is one of those things that is often brushed under the mat. When people are building websites the things that they focus on are usually – what colour is it? What do the pictures look like? What does structure of the page look like? What is the functionality like?” he says.

“[People] get to the end of the project, or the website build, and will say… ‘have we done any testing?’ And of course the thing you are least likely to spend money on is the thing that is hard to understand, and if you can’t see it then people try to ignore it.”

In fact significant benefits can be gained from having a faster site. Squixa has already improved loading times by 20% to 50% for 70 websites such as NRMA, NIB, Lorna Jane and one of the big four banks.

Squixa CEO Stewart McGrath

McGrath said this means more transactions for retailers or more page views for media sites. For one particular customer, The Fusion Retail Group, he said Squixa was able to increase their page speed by 50%, and “because of that they saw a 30% increase in revenue”.

“Other customers have seen a 1% conversion improvement,” he said.

While that might not seem like much, if you’re doing thousands of transactions a day a 1% conversion improvement can be really important. “Businesses in e-commerce fight very hard for each half a per cent conversion improvement they can get, so the Squixa platform can deliver really easy money for marketers and IT guys.”

We asked McGrath why a web page might load slowly but because every website is different he said it was hard to define specifically.

“Dealing with webpage performance can be like death by a thousand cuts,” he said.

“With our platform there’s about 65-70 different things we will do to a website’s code, images and/ or assets as they pass through our platform in order to improve the performance of the site. And of these things we won’t do all 65-70 for every website because some of those things are important for some websites but not for others.”

However, he said some of the most common reasons a page might be slow include:

    1. The web page is constructed in a way which requires too many round trips to the website provider’s servers
    2. The web page and content does not take advantage of all the caching options available
    3. The page performance is coupled with that of third party content providers like live chat, social likes, ratings and reviews

Overall McGrath said it is important that business’ website performance is measured to reflect what real users are experiencing. He said often businesses measure their website performance by browsing the site and simply timing loading speeds themselves. This, he said, does not take into account the different internet speeds people have or what device they are using to access the website, which both can have an impact on how fast or slow a webpage loads.

To fix this problem McGrath writes on his blog that there are six realativly straight forward steps to speed up webpage rendering.

Send less data

  • Reduce the size and the number of the files sent
  • Send over a shorter distance

  • Reduce the distance the files must travel between the central servers and the user’s browser
  • Send files earlier

  • Reduce the time the web browser has to wait to receive files it needs
  • Send over faster routes

  • Reduce the time it takes for the files to traverse the internet
  • Produce files faster

  • Reduce the time it takes for the web application to produce the files
  • Improve “usability” at the browser

  • Reduce the time it takes the browser to read, interpret and use the files

  • In March Squixa, which is running at double the revenue they were last year, was valued at $10 million after fund raising rounds from existing and new investors such as Vocus’ James Spenceley, former GraysOnline director Damian McCarthy and serial entrepreneur Trevor Folsom. The company plans to break even in early 2015.

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