In today’s digital environment speed is everything. Just a few years ago, a typical visitor would tolerate a website that took 6-8 seconds to load. Today, the majority of visitors would leave that site and move on in search of a better experience. In fact, today the chance of a website bounce increases by 32% when page load time goes from one to just three seconds!
But that's not all. In addition to impacting a site’s bounce rate, website speed has a significant impact on user experience, search engine optimization (SEO) results, and conversion rates. For example, Mobify discovered that reducing their homepage's load time by 100 milliseconds resulted in a 1.11% increase in session-based conversion, while Walmart found that improving their page load time by one second increased conversions by 2.0%.
So what should you do to maximize your website’s speed? The first thing to consider is whether you have the right CMS. Your content management platform can positively or negatively impact your site’s load time in a number of ways.
Whether you are a developer, a digital marketing agency, or a business, look for a web content management solution with features that will support the development of high performing, fast websites.
Websites that use a CDN (content delivery network) load much more quickly than those that don’t, so make sure your CMS provides a CDN, and that you aren’t charged extra for this functionality.
Automatic Caching capability automatically caches every page on a website (and in the CMS) after the first request. Subsequent requests for that page use the cached version. This functionality dramatically improves page load times because a cached page can retrieve the page content 5-10 times faster when compared to a rendered page.
Large images can slow down your website and affect performance by increasing page load times. As a site manager or administrator, your objective should always be to reduce an image’s size while maintaining its quality. Image compression tools can do just that, significantly improve a site’s page speed, by achieving reductions of 70% or more in total image size.
Unfortunately, many content management systems don’t provide this type of feature out of the box and, instead, rely on content editors to compress images before uploading. This can be done manually using various image compression tools, but that can take lots of time for every image on a site.
Look for a CMS that provides automatic image compression, as well as flexibility including both lossy and lossless compression options.
Image presets are image settings that can be applied to images throughout a website. Presets can automatically apply cropping and resizing to optimize a site for speed and reduce manual editing tasks. Other image styles or “special effects” can also be applied, such as black and white, drop shadows, borders, transparency, rotation, etc., . In the case of automatic presets, a developer or technical marketer can build presets into various templates to optimize both the look and speed of a page, so that images are dynamically resized "on the fly" to the preferred size and aspect ratio.
For example, a blog image originally sized as 2000px wide by 1500px tall could automatically be displayed in different ways via two presets. The image could be resized for a blog feed as a thumbnail, 150px square, with a 2px gray border, but the same image could be displayed as a large 800px wide by 600px tall banner on the blog post. This automation takes the burden of resizing images off an end user, helps maintain consistency throughout a site, and optimizes the site automatically.
Some content management systems are fully-managed and include hosting with their subscriptions. In other cases, the website host is completely separate from the CMS. In these cases, website hosting providers are not equal when it comes to website speed and optimization. Some low cost hosting services will share the same resources (servers, etc.) with thousands of sites. All those sites compete at the same time to load and servers can only process so much information at one time. Additionally, different providers will invest in different levels of memory, processor speed, and bandwidth.
Every plugin adds additional complexity, and in many cases, can overload a database, and slow down your website. Every plugin will add more code that a browser has to load, but every plugin isn’t equal. Those with additional scripts, stylesheets, extra database queries, and remote requests to external APIs will have more impact on slowing down a site.
Deactivated, outdated, or poorly built plugins, are more likely to have a negative impact on your site. But simply having too many plugins may also impact optimization.
Looking for websites that provide a positive user experience, convert better, and perform well on Google’s page speed ranking factors? Make sure to consider a CMS built for speed.
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