website speed

Page loading time

Why You’re Throwing Money Down the Drain By Not Optimizing Your Website Speed

Why You’re Throwing Money Down the Drain By Not Optimizing Your Website Speed 1000 667 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

You thought you did everything perfectly while setting up your website. You hired that graphic designer to put together an eye popping design that would wow even the most casual of browsers. You paid for top notch content to be put up on your website by one of the best copywriters you could find. Heck, maybe you even splashed out a few dollars on targeted Adwords and Facebook ads to get people coming to your site. But your website simply isn’t drawing the traffic or sales that you anticipated.

All because you forgot one critical part of your website design: Your website load speed.

While you may be doubtful that 1 or 2 seconds of extra website loading time doesn’t count, think again: the time it takes for your website to load is literally one of the top considerations for any website. Let’s walk you through the reasons why you’re throwing your money down the drain by not optimizing your website load speed:

You lose potential customers

Think about this frightening statistic: almost half of all website visitors expect a website to load within 2 seconds or less. In fact, if your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, 40% of potential customers will abandon your site. These surprising facts come from a study that examined site speed and other important metrics on ecommerce sites. In a business world where a 1 or 2 percent swing in customer numbers can make a huge difference to your business, that’s a sobering statistic. And the customer loss extends even beyond casual shoppers. Over half of all respondents in the study stated that the site load speed was an important factor in how loyal they are to shopping on that site, and almost two thirds (64%) of will go to a competing site rather than face the agony of dealing with a site with slow load speeds.

You lose sales

With slow loading times, you’re missing out on the sales from the people who do stick around for more than a few seconds. For example, in the same study mentioned above, it was found that almost a quarter (23%) of all shoppers will simply either stop shopping or literally walk away from the computer if the site takes too long to load even after they had begun to shop. At peak traffic times when shoppers are even less patient, the story is far worse. Over 75% of customers will leave a site they are shopping on for another one rather than continue to suffer delays during peak online shopping times. Even the tiniest of delays costs company sales, as retail giant Amazon realised in their study that showed that for every extra 100 milliseconds, their website sales decreased by 1%. These figures show that even fractions of a second count when optimizing page loading times.

Your SEO takes a beating

Slow website load speeds results in bad Search Engine Optimization rankings. Search Engine Optimization, otherwise known as SEO, is a critical consideration of any website because of the importance of search engines such as Google and Bing. The higher your website is ranked in search rankings, the more clicks and views you’ll get, and therefore the more clients will come your way. Popular search engine sites such as Google use site load speed to determine how well you rank. The slower your site is, the more your site will be penalized in the search engine rankings, and the fewer views your website will receive.

Customers lose faith in your business

It’s crystal clear that having a slow website load speed negatively impacts customer’s perception of not only the website, but the brand itself. Website load speed is an integral part of the user experience, and if your website simply cannot load in time then the user experience suffers greatly. Almost half (48%) of all customers report that if a website takes too long to load, that they take that as an indication that the business simply does not care about them. In other words, the perception of your business as a whole suffers if your website loads too slowly.

The solution for optimizing your website

Thankfully, you don’t have to suffer through slow site speeds. In fact, there are plenty of easy ways to work on your website if it loads too slowly. From compressing the images on your website to optimizing plugins and WordPress templates, your website can be fine-tuned to give you the fast site load times that you deserve and that your customers will love. Don’t underestimate the importance of fast load times for your website – speed up your website today.

CDN: Is Your Slow Website Losing You Sales?

CDN: Is Your Slow Website Losing You Sales? 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

As a business owner, you know that it is important to have a website, but have you ever thought about using the same technologies and techniques as the big boys?

What is a Content Distribution Network?

One tool that large e-commerce players use for site speed optimisation up and secure their sites is a CDN (Content Delivery Network). Only a few years ago, these were expensive, and only for enterprise customers. Fortunately for us, technology, and market forces have pushed the prices down to a point that even a Small Business can afford.

More sophisticated CDNs can also optimise the underlying pages and images, as well as provide web site security, but more on this later.  So why would even a small web site need a basic CDN?

Every web page is made up of a number elements, this includes things like text, images and often videos.  Now the further away geographically the user is to the website, the slower it is, right?

So rather than bringing the user to the same country as the website (costly!), we bring as much of the website as possible to the same country as the user.  For the visually inclined, here’s a diagram about CDNs from Wikipedia.

Content Distribution Network

A CDN is basically a collection of web servers in data centres around the globe. In its simplest form, each of these web servers keeps a local copy of pieces of your website, typically the parts that don’t change often, such as images.

This improves web site experience for the end user.  Why would we want to do this?  Well there are two main benefits.

Firstly studies show that if websites run faster, end users are likely to spend more time on them, and it also increases their likelihood to buy online.  In fact, a study by U.S. Research Company Aberdeen Group found that a 1-second delay in page load time can result in:

  • 7% fewer conversions
  • 11% fewer page views
  • 16% decrease in customer satisfaction

Worst case, really slow web sites will frustrate users to the point where they will leave, with your competition only one click away.  However studies have shown that even improving site speed by a few seconds per page load can have a 5 to 10% increase in online sales.

Secondly, the guys at Google are pretty smart.  In many ways, they have programmed their search algorithms to behave like users.  This means that if your website responds faster, your site will actually rank a bit higher in organic searches. While site speed is only a small factor in your overall rank, but every little bit helps.

Mike, That Sounds Too Good To Be True.

If all this sounds too good to be true, there are a few things to be aware of.  The first thing is that if it is not managed properly, web content can become ‘stale’.  By this we mean the CDN can display yesterday’s news, rather than up to the minute content.  The other thing is that your website reporting and analytics can also be affected.  However if you have the right team of web infrastructure specialists, all these issues can be easily overcome.

Now CDNs won’t solve every website performance problem.  Over-crowded web hosts, cheap offshore web-hosting, and poorly written content management systems will still likely need to be addressed.

However, you no longer need to spend thousands to get your website rebuilt and optimised.  Instead a CDN can be a very cost effective way to get some extra speed, especially for overseas visitors, and maybe even a boost to your sales.

Image Formats — Why Getting It Wrong Could Cost You Money

Image Formats — Why Getting It Wrong Could Cost You Money 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

We often take images for granted, despite using them so extensively in everything from proposals, to our websites and marketing collateral. The days where companies were able to get away with mediocre looking websites are over, as people become more visually oriented. You may have noticed the popularity of visual websites such as Pinterest and the millions of photography websites that have flooded the internet over the past few years. The trend of beautiful photography and sleek looking websites is only going to increase, and for this reason we thought we would take a look at some of the basic principles of image formats for use both online and offline.

What makes a good image?

Effective use of images have a few core principles. They should:

  • Be relevant
  • Convey information
  • Convey the mood
  • Be instantly recognisable
  • Complement the colour palette

Image formats

Not all images are made equal. You may have wondered about the different types of images and their differences. The most commonly used image formats on websites and in marketing collateral are:

  • jpeg (or jpg)
  • gif
  • png

Images should always be saved in RGB (Red Green Blue) and not indexed colour. This is based on the principle that the majority of colours used in images and photography can be created by combining the base colours red, green and blue.

JPEG – Joint Photography Experts Group

JPEG are the ideal format to use when images contain many different colours. Images such as stock photos of people or scenery for example can contain hundreds or thousands of individual shades of colour, and incorrectly saving them in the incorrect format can mean losing much of the impact of the original photograph. JPEG (or JPG) files tend to be larger in size than GIF or PNG images, and should be used sparingly for effect.

jpeg-photo-example

This image includes a wide range of different colours, and is best saved as a jpeg file.

One often overlooked fact is that jpeg images are ‘lossy’ and suffer from what designers refer to as ‘jpeg rot’. This means that every time a jpeg file is saved, it loses some quality. Let’s say you take a jpeg photo and begin to remove red eye effects, perhaps cropping the photo and adjusting the brightness and contrast. Each time you make one of these changes, the overall quality of the image gets just a little worse.

For this reason, it is best to save an editable master file in your photo editor’s proprietary format, such as PSD files in Adobe Photoshop. When you’ve finished making your changes, THEN you can export them (or ‘Save for Web’) as a jpeg file.

GIF – Graphics Interchange Format

GIF files are ideal for flat colour photos. Common examples of these are vectors and company logos, which often only contain a few colours. These image types can benefit from transparency, which makes using them over solid colour backgrounds simple. GIFs are best suited for straight edged transparencies.

PNG – Portable Network Graphics

Much like GIF files, PNG images are again best suited for images containing few block colours. Unlike the GIF, they can be used when the edges of an image are rounded or diagonal, or when a semi-opaque transparency or a drop shadow are used.

greenlight-logo-png-example

Our logo is an example of an image with relatively few colours, making it suitable as a png or gif image.

Resolution – Print vs. Digital

When aiming for quality, the clarity of an image is measured differently depending on whether the media type is printed or digital.

Print media is measured in DPI (Dots Per Inch) and the best practice is to use a 300 dots per inch or higher to ensure the end result is true to the digital edition.

Digital media quality is measured in pixels. Images on your computer are measured in tiny dots called pixels, and screen resolutions refer to the number of pixels represented on it. Most computers allow you to change the resolution to a certain degree– changing your resolution from 640×480 pixels to 1024×768 for example will result in images that look much smaller given there are a much higher number of pixels per inch in the same amount of space.

Image compression

All image formats can benefit from compression techniques, and in the majority of cases there is an acceptable trade-off between quality and file size. Compression is particularly important for images stored on your website, as research has shown that a slow website will result in a higher bounce rate by customers as well as search engine optimisation penalties.

Because the major search engines base their ranking algorithms on factors they perceive to create a good user experience, it is often good practice to consider these and other factors you can remedy to improve the user experience of your website.

Most photo/image editing software will allow you to preview the effect compression will have on the quality of an image. It is important to remember that most website CMS platforms will have options to resize images within the GUI– as a rule of thumb, we strongly advise against this practice. Instead, use a quality image editing software such as Adobe Photoshop to scale images in pixels (the unit of measurement you will want to use for your website and marketing collateral) prior to inserting them in your media. This will ensure minimum loss of quality whilst ensuring your images load as quickly as they can.

A recent report from Strange Loop found that a one second delay on your website can cost you 7% of sales. Whether you are an eCommerce business or have a brochure site, this can have drastic repercussions on your bottom line. If the leads or sales generated by your website are worth $1,000 a month, that means $70 a month– or $840 a year– in lost revenue.

At Greenlight ITC, we often are asked to improve the speed of our clients’ websites. Sometimes the servers you are hosting your website on are sharing bandwidth with hundreds or thousands of other websites, and you need something more suitable to the amount of traffic you are receiving. Other times, your website may need to be optimised. In either case, we are always happy to provide a free assessment to improve the speed of your website, which we can implement for you or that you can fix up on your very own.

 

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