Speed Equals Dollars

I recently returned from a conference where I was told by an attendee that as a result of listening to me talk at a conference a few months back I had made his company “millions of dollars”. I’d helped his team reduce their website’s average page load time from 6 seconds to 2 seconds. Now I can only assume he was referring to the future benefit of the impact of my recommendations but it’s led me to write this post and share some of my thoughts.

Website speed is the most underrated and least prioritised thing in eCommerce. Companies are starting to focus on user experience but are forgetting that speed is one of the cornerstones of user experiences.

Speed Equals Dollars
According to Kissmetrics, 47 percent of visitors expect a website to load in less than 2 seconds, and 40 percent of visitors will leave the website if the loading process takes more than 3 seconds.

There are further studies that show the correlation between conversion rate and load times. Our own real world experience has shown that by decreasing page load time by 1 second we were able to achieve a 1% increase in conversion rate. If a company has annual revenues of $10 million this would equate to an additional $100,000 revenue. Small improvements in speed can yield significant results to your bottom line.

So what are my recommendations?
There are countless websites / blogs dedicated to explaining technically how to speed up your website so I’m not going to repeat any of that here. However I do have two recommendations for the non-technical and if followed makes much of those technical instructions less important.

Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) and Content Accelerator
A CDN allows your website to be cached on servers around the world and closer to the users. This means that load times are faster regardless of where the user is. However, more importantly using a CDN means that your server is not being contacted for a high percentage of requests and therefore under periods of high load you don’t need to worry about having to scale.

A content accelerator optimises your website content on the fly. So what the technical website will tell you to do can mostly be done by a third party content accelerator meaning less of your developer’s time spent worrying about speed optimisation and more time building out new functionality. (A content accelerator will only speed up your front end (HTML, CSS and Javascript). Your developers must still ensure the backend is optimised for speed and efficiency)

We use section.io for both our content acceleration and CDN. I highly recommend them. They are very hands on and provide a great level of support at all hours of the day (and night).

Educate Your Graphic Designer
Make sure your Graphic Designer understands the importance of website speed and is optimising all the images that are being loaded onto your site. Do not rely on third party plugins to reduce images sizes. Make sure your images are the correct size and quality for your website.

Speed Equals Dollars