There are over two billion websites, and an estimated 200 million are active. Your site is only one of the millions that internet browsers may choose to visit. What’s more, your site may be the first impression potential consumers get of your business, and returning clients will still need to navigate through it.
Unfortunately, a poorly designed website can drive newcomers and the most loyal consumers away regardless of the quality of services and products. In a highly saturated market, it is paramount for your site to have the performance and speed to compete with others in your industry.
This article will dive into several tactics for user experience optimization so that you can employ them to boost performance and website speed.
What is user experience, and why is it crucial?
Briefly, user experience, sometimes shortened to UX, can be considered the sum of user interactions with your website. This includes every component of your site, including the visuals, navigation, accessibility, and overall usability.
Several aspects create an enjoyable platform for users to interact with. Intuitive navigation, consistency, fast loading speeds, visual design, and usability are some of the components that contribute to benefits like higher rates of web traffic, increased engagement, improved conversion rates, and more.
In particular, website speed is one of the most important aspects of user experience. A slow and buggy website can quickly turn a visitor off and may even discourage them enough not to return.
On the other hand, a fast and smooth loading website is expected in this era, and it provides a reason for users to return because they know they won’t need to manage their frustration over wait times while trying to complete a task. Moreover, Google considers speed for search engine ranking.
Assess Your Current Situation
Before making any changes, it is important to understand the foundation you are working with. Several tools can be used to measure the performance of your site. These include Google Lighthouse, WebPageTest.org, and GTmetrix. They can help you understand the areas of your site that may be suffering and slowing your site down.
Additionally, you may want to consider using a key performance indicator, or KPI, to track the performance of your website over time to achieve your goals. An example of a KPI would be a customer satisfaction index, which could help you evaluate how consumers feel about the quality of your site.
Take Advantage of the Ability to Cache
There are several different forms of caches, and each can reduce loading speeds for your site visitors. The main forms of caching include Browser, Domain Name System (DNS), Content Delivery Network (CDN), Static Page, and Object.
Mindsize.com elaborates that although each cache system acts differently based on its type, they all help with the perceived speed of a site since they increase delivery time by holding a copy of the information a user is attempting to access. Since caching provides a copy of something, it is best to use it for items that rarely change, like a logo.
More on CNDs
Address Your Images
Visual elements, especially images, have the power to draw attention, elicit emotions, and tell a story, all of which contribute to your website and its ability to convert sales and relay information. Unfortunately, unoptimized images also can cause your loading speeds to drag, so it is paramount to address the format, size, resolution, and dimensions/aspect ratio.
Large and high-quality images dramatically increase loading speed since there is more information to be displayed, so they suggest reducing your image size, removing unnecessary information from the image, using concise language for alternative text and coding, and compressing your files. What’s more, you can use alternative text to describe images that fail to load, and these descriptions can be used as part of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
Lighten Specific Pages
Some website runners choose to improve their site speed by creating light pages. Usually, they focus on high-traffic pages. This can reduce the barrier to entry, but it will not prevent frustration from unoptimized pages.
Minification is the process of removing unneeded characters like redundant semicolons, comments, line breaks, and more. These can be further reduced by converting codes to their shorthands as well as file compression, and some tools are there to help with this process.
Minimize the Number of HTTP Requests
The website features load through HTTP requests. For example, for an image to load, a message must be sent to the server and returned to the client, and this is true for each image or feature. Eventually, these requests add up and slow down your website speed and performance.
Select the Right Plugins
Plugins offer various features to users, but they can also add bulk to your website. To avoid slow loading, you will need to monitor the number of plugins you use as well as determine how they affect your site’s performance. There are several WordPress plugins that can be used to increase your loading speeds. Some of their suggestions are used to cache information, while others focus on storage/file size management.
Choose the Right Web Host
Several factors go into selecting a web host, and this section will focus specifically on how a host can affect speed. There are four main factors you should seek out. The first is the type of drive that is used. A solid-state drive, or SSD, is more reliable and faster than a hard state drive, or HSD, because there are no mechanical moving parts.
You must also take RAM (random access memory) into consideration. The more features you have, the more RAM you will need. Another area to consider is bandwidth which can improve speed. Lastly, you should choose between a dedicated or shared server. Resources are divided on a shared server, so loading speeds may be reduced while dedicated servers provide their resources solely to you, which can improve loading rates.
Tips for Success
Take Mobile Use Into Consideration
Mobile use has exploded over the past several years, and it continues to grow with 56% of website traffic coming from mobile users. This is why your website needs to be able to perform traditionally as well as on mobile devices. Developers will typically use two different methods to provide a mobile site to their visitors.
The first is a website that is designed specifically for mobile use. With this method, the website remains mostly the same, but switches certain features, like a menu bar to a hamburger menu or reducing displayed text, when a handheld device is detected.
The other method is a responsive site. As the name implies, these designs will adapt and adjust to the console they are being viewed on. Changes will depend on the choice of the developers; however, some common ones include page size adjustment, image resolution, page orientation, and the amount of information displayed. Both have their advantages and disadvantages; nevertheless, they will still need to be optimized through the above tips to offer high-quality performance and speed.
Make a Content Strategy
Every website will have additions to it, and those with blogs should see routine add-ons. A good content marketing strategy can help you maintain branding and consistency. Moreover, it can help you with your speed and website performance by ensuring optimization is part of the process by providing guidelines for each post and a timeline to complete each task.
Of course, all of these have tactics to address these areas of concern, so if you are ready to implement these strategies, then, TechWyse has the services, resources, and tools to help you understand and use these tactics to increase your website speed and performance.