We often joke that what keeps our customers awake at night is “the back button,” but it’s true. In our digital mobile world where everything is at your fingertips right now, when a website is slow to load, the back button is web version of call-waiting. Furthermore, in a world where your product is actually your website, user experience (UX) can mean the difference between a high quality lead and a statistic.
When a web visitor lands on a fast website, that visitor tends to visit more pages, click more ads, and return more often. A great example from just a few months ago is GQ Magazine. When GQ decreased its page load time by 80%, unique visitor traffic went up by 80%. That’s no coincidence, and the massive proliferation of mobile web consumption only exacerbates the latency of websites that are already slow.
So what do you do to capitalize on the fact that mobile has surpassed desktop web visits and ensure the very best UX for anyone who visits your website? Here are three steps you can – and should – take.
1. Embrace responsive design
Instead of utilizing resources to maintain a desktop website and a mobile app that are nearly identical, implement a single, responsive website. A single site that adapts to the user’s device (desktop, phone, or tablet) is easier to maintain than two digital assets and is a better use of your resources as well. Here’s a great discussion on how to implement responsive design on Stackoverflow.com, and a blog post on auditing the performance of your responsive mobile site from our very own Zoompf.
2. Measure performance from the user’s perspective
You may have heard the adage “if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” and your website’s performance is no exception. By monitoring your web pages’ load times and resources using Real User Monitoring or Synthetic Monitoring, you can quickly identify the culprits of a slow load. Once the issues are identified, then you can focus your attention on utilizing fewer web resources and smaller file sizes. For example, how long will it take to load a 3.6MB JPG image over a mobile connection with 2 or 3 bars of connectivity? (answer: too long)
3. Pay attention to the front end
It’s not the web server that’s so slow, it’s the load time for all the resources on your website. Do you serve up ads, conduct eCommerce, enable social sharing, provide security, use marketing automation, and implement analytics software? All of these very valuable resources make up 80-90% of the time it takes to load your web pages. In the GQ example above, they discovered that their homepage was taking 7 seconds to load, which means (at least) 5.6 seconds of that load time was on the front end.
These steps are not quick plugins. They take time and resources; however, since you now know what GQ had to learn, you can more accurately predict the results of delivering a lightning fast website experience for all your visitors, prospects, and customers.
For more detailed information, visit our slideshare on Improving the Digital UX by Optimizing for Performance. If you are interested in learning more about Rigor for the holidays check out our free, two week trial.