Does it take longer than 5 seconds for your website to load on mobile devices?
Slow mobile website load times could be a problem for your company’s conversion rate, SEO, and customer satisfaction. Kissmetrics reports that mobile pages which take more than 2-3 seconds to load can experience a high rate of abandonment as would-be visitors lose patience over waiting. After just 4 seconds, a full 25% of viewers have abandoned the idea of visiting your website entirely. Google recommends that marketers optimize their sites to allow all above-the-fold content to load in just one second or less!
Correcting a site which loads slowly isn’t always simple. There are a number of causes behind mobile web issues, which can range from incorrect site hosting decisions to excessively large image files. It’s critical for marketers to have a basic understanding of some of the most common possibilities behind load time issues, particularly if they’re outsourcing their mobile web development and maintenance to an agency.
If too much technical content has a tendency to make your eyes glaze over a bit, fear not. This blog is designed to provide marketing managers, leadership, and project managers with an understanding of some of the factors that can slow your website down on mobile devices. Anyone with a basic understanding of the elements of a website or app should be able to hack this just fine:
1. Bad Image File Optimization
Are your website images full-size, or have they been resized for quick loading? Failing to correctly define the quality or size of an image can cause your site to quickly become bogged down by enormous files, which slows load times significantly on both desktops and mobile devices.
If there were a single place to start with investigating your site’s load-time issues, this should probably be it. According to technical expert Mark Isham, 90% of the websites in Alexa’s top 1,000 sites have page load times affected by poorly optimized image files.
2. Poor Website Hosting
Cut-rate web hosting could be the cause of your company’s load times. While shared web hosting options can be a viable option for small brands, it’s not always the right choice for sites with a high volume of traffic. Your website might need custom configuration or a dedicated host to withstand the volume of traffic it’s consistently receiving.
3. Failing to Compress Web Pages
Great web developers know a series of magic tricks which can significantly speed load times. One of these is known as GZIP compression. This literally consists of adding the following line of code to your webpages:
<?php ob_start("ob_gzhandler"); ?>
It’s not always an option, nor does it act as a silver bullet. However, it’s fast, simple, and supported by virtually all website hosting solutions.
4. External Media
Do your website pages contain excessive external media, like YouTube videos, Flickr feeds, or social media widgets? These resources can slow load times significantly. If you’re in possession of a dedicated mobile website (as opposed to a responsive website), you may need to remove excessive external media assets from the pages that are loading the most slowly.
5. Heavy Use of Flash
Flash can really damage a website’s load times. More is the pity, because it’s a lovely tool for adding animations and other forms of interactive marketing. In the mobile age, every marketer should balance the competing priorities of an engaging web experience with consumers’ demand for fast load times. When in doubt, less flash is most likely the best choice for your web design.
6. Excessive Resource Files
There are web pages which contain more than 10 resource files per page, which can cause load times to skyrocket. If your site is guilty of being built in a style that includes a high volume of files, it’s probably wise to consider ways you can simplify the user experience for the sake of mobile viewers.
7. Poor Mobile Site Design
Sometimes, mobile websites aren’t really mobile-optimized at all. The content of a complex, large website that was built exclusively for desktop viewing is compressed and smashed into a mobile package, and the results can be downright disastrous. We’ve all found ourselves frustrated, trying to navigate a website with buttons that are too tiny to click, and content that’s difficult to read. It certainly doesn’t inspire much confidence in the brand behind the pages.
While various aspects of a poorly designed mobile site can have a negative effect on load times, it’s also crucial to consider user experience. If your viewers find that your pages load in 3 seconds but have to spend 15 seconds digging for your phone number that’s buried to the right of your contact form, the benefits are negligible. Not only should your site load fast, it should provide fast and convenient access to frequently-needed info.
Why Mobile Matters More Than Ever
If you could be suffering from one or more of the factors discussed here, it’s wise to take action sooner rather than later. Google’s latest mobile algorithm update, released 4/21/2015, will place a significant advantage on mobile-optimized web pages for placement in search results.
If you’ve noticed a significant drop in your website traffic from organic search sources lately, you could be feeling the afterburn of the “mobilegeddon” algorithm update. What’s the best thing to do? In short, you should take immediate action and develop a list of actionable priorities based on quantifiable assessment. If images are your primary culprit, understanding that this fix should take precedence over external media can allow you to correctly direct your tech budget and resources.
Performing a mobile website assessment can allow you to prioritize improvements, getting your site to a place where it’s quick-to-load and easy to navigate.mrhicks46/flickr/cc