A faster website has lots of benefits but the main benefit is that a fast loading website provides a better user experience. Who really likes sitting and waiting for a web page to load? Nobody, really.
Honestly, to get a website to load more quickly can take a bit of work but there is one method which can give you some instant speed – right away. I’ll explain what it is and how to go about doing it.
How a Page Loads
When you load a web page, the request is made, the data is transferred and then the connection ends (this is a general summary – there are some ways to keep connections alive but let’s keep it simple for now). So there’s one connection for the page itself and then that page needs to open connections for each image, each style sheet and each script file. These connections happen quickly now but this is what they mean by the web being “stateless” if you’ve ever heard that term.
For example, one web page with one image on it will use two connections – one for the image and one for the image. A page with 20 images would need 21 connections. A page with 20 images and 3 scripts would need 24 connections – you get the idea.
Where the Problems Start
So far, things are simple but where problems start is when things go missing.
We’ve all seen a 404 page, right? The 404 error code states that something is missing. Sometimes these pages are really plain and boring and sometimes they look like the website and give more direction to help the website visitor.
Let’s say you have a page with 20 images, that’s 21 connections but let’s say one of those images isn’t there. It either accidentally was deleted or the file name isn’t listed right – something like that. With that scenario, we’re now using 21 connections plus loading another whole page – the 404 page and all the images and scripts on the 404 page now need to also load. If that page has 20 items on it, that’s another 21 connections, so you’re now at 42, which is double… just because one thing was missing.
Again, the 404 page could either be a simple, plain page or it could be another page that looks like the website. If the latter, then that’s a lot more data. Sure, most of it will be cached by the browser but the page itself (the HTML for the page) needs to be loaded and it needs to be analyzed. This takes up time and resources.
Now let’s say you have 10 plugins on your WordPress website and some sloppy coding caused 5 of them to have 4 missing files each. That’s 20 extra 404 page loads and if each 404 page has 20 connections, you’re now at 400 extra connections. You can see how 404 errors can really start adding up and compounding.
So What Do You Do?
The way to fix this problem is to look at your website statistics. The web server you use keeps track of 404 errors, so you can get a report there. If you use Google Search Console, some data is there. Each 404 error needs to be looked at and then files need to be uploaded to the website or references should be fixed. If you use a plugin that has files missing, you’re probably best off finding a plugin that is coded better.
This work takes some time and effort, yes. The benefit is that you get an instant speed increase on your website because instead of loading multiple pages, you’re just loading one page where everything works like it should. You do this work once and everyone using your website gets the benefit of a faster loading page. Sure, you might need to do this a few times per year but the first time you do it will be the most time consuming. After that, it’s just easy maintenance.
More Benefits of a Fast Loading Website
Once you get it loading faster, Google will like it more. You have to “think like Google” here.
If 2 websites, for example, rank the same to Google but one loads more quickly, which will they rank higher? The faster one, of course. That’s because Google wants to provide the best product, which is their search results. If the search results at Google started to stink and not be helpful, people would switch, right? Part of a good result is a result (page/website) that loads quickly because that is what people want.
You can then expect higher rankings because you have the better result. So simple, right?
When a page loads quickly, people stay on those websites. Some trust is gained. This is something Google measures as well – the bounce rate and the dwell time (how long people stay on a page).
When a website loads slowly, that’s a very bad first impression. You trust that company less. You might not consciously think this but your brain is using that information to make a judgement. It’s a factor for sure.
So fast loading websites rank higher because Google wants to give good results and you gain trust in your customer’s mind.
When you make a good first impression with someone, you’ve now knocked down one of the toughest hurdles to get through. You’ve gained their attention. Next, your website needs to give them what they need, which is another thing the brain wants – but we’re getting off topic a little, so I won’t go deep into this. Let’s just say the copy (text/message) your website uses should not be about your company, it should be about the website visitor – what they get. When you do that, you also gain more trust, give people what they want and you become a better result (you rank higher).
See how it all works together?
Make the Right Choice
I realize that pouring over error log files is not something anyone is probably dying to do. It’s boring work and tedious… not fun at all unless you’re a Web Geek. I’m not expecting many people reading this to take the action of doing that work. Instead, the point is that wouldn’t you want to go with a website design company that knows about little details like this, is passionate about making a website load quickly and one that wants to help your business succeed?
Choosing Webstix to build your website is choosing a company that wants to give you a website that simply works better. Making that happen is definitely not simple. It takes extra work and attention to detail (yes, more cost) but remember the benefits. The cream always rises to the top, right? And you get what you pay for typically – a cheap website is, well… a cheap website. Your website will be easy for your competition to beat for the best, first impression in people’s minds. Is that what you want?
If you understand quality, if you like things to just work better with less hassle and headaches, then contact Webstix today. If we’re concerned about all the little things, just imagine how we are with the bigger things! Let’s build your website the right way!