Why You Should Test Your Load Times

Why You Should Test Your Load Times
December 28, 2012 Webmaster

Page Load Times

Not that long ago, the Internet was more difficult to access, and much less common than it is now. Back then, websites had few or no graphics, lots of text, and slow connections due to dial-up. However, today that has all changed and the Internet is a totally different animal. High speed internet, technology, and web designers make web pages better; this includes adding images and graphics.  While these can make a website look great and sometimes more fun, they can also drag down the site and make it run much slower. 

 

Mobile devices and new technology allow users to browse the web without having to wait for sites to load, and because of this, many users expect fast load times. This fast load also benefits companies because search engines use this as a factor of their results.

What Load Times Mean
Page load times are measured by the amount of time it takes between a request and a complete page load. This includes all images, texts, and scripts. Remember, this is a full page load, not when things become visible. Everything must be fully loaded for the page load time to be measured.

Why Page Load Times are Important
There are many reasons why these load times are so important for a website’s performance:

  • If pages take too long to load, users will lose patience and find another site for what they are looking for.
  • The first impression is the most important, and many users will not give a site a second chance.
  • Search engines look at page load times, and use them to rank sites. If your site is slow, your rankings will be low.
  • Those who have mobile devices will have even less patience. Make sure that you have a website that is optimized for mobile devices so that it loads quickly on these devices.

Understanding Load Times
So what is a good page load time? The answer to this is a tough one, and there is no definite answer. There are many factors that can vary what a good load time is. These can include who is browsing, which keywords are used to search, and what site was looked at prior. On average, a load time of more than three seconds is slow. Faster than this is ideal, and will make you stand out among the competition.

Factors that Can Impact Load Times
There are two main factors that can impact the load times on your site. These are:

  1. The server on which your website is hosted, bandwidth of the network, and how long the server takes to respond.
  2. How the page is coded can also have an impact.

How to Improve Page Load Times
There are many tools and web plug-ins that one can use to help determine your page load times. These include Page Speed and Y!Slow, both available on Firefox. These will not only give you your load times, but can also help your determine how to improve these times. Here are a few tips that may help:

  • White spaces should be reduced to lower load times.
  • Reduce HTTP requests.
  • Compress the page.
  • Styles and scripts should be done with a top-down approach.
  • Use CSS Sprites.
  • Content delivery networks are a must for companies with big websites.
  • Use browser caching to help sites load quicker.

Conclusion
The best way to make sure your page will load quickly and be beneficial for users is to find a professional design company. The best design companies will be those who know SEO and the best online marketing strategies on the web.