When it comes to User Experience (UX) there is always room for improvement, and this highlights some important questions:
- Have we done enough to make the users time enjoyable?
- At what point should we be satisfied?
- Is there anything else we can do?
Brilliant have always been a design first company
and with that we are always conscious about building websites with great user experience and one major aspect is how quickly a page loads and images render on screen.
As well as making your visitors happy, in an effort to improve the web, Google now takes page load speed into consideration within rank search results. You may have all your meta data in place, keywords setup and are doing everything in your power to appease the SEO gods but if a competitors website loads faster, then they may rank higher, so this is a great reason to monitor performance.
First of all, how fast is fast enough?
Below 1 second = perfect
1-3 seconds = above average
3-6 seconds = average
6+ seconds = very poor
These benchmarks are based on studies showing that 47% of people expect a web page to load in under two seconds, and 57% of visitors will abandon a page that takes 3 or more seconds to load.
So who is responsible for a great website user experience
, is it the designer, the developer or the client... well it's all three, everyone has an important role to play from designing the content in logical layouts and wire framing clear navigational routes to developing the website with best practices and experience to maintaining the website content after deployment.
At Brilliant we use a lot of behind the scenes methods to help keep the weight of a page low such as:
- Specifying a character set to help page rendering
- Utilising asynchronous loading
- Avoiding landing page redirects that cycle and delay page rendering
- Enable gzip compression which can reduce the size of the transferred response by up to 90%
- Reduce server response time to under 200ms
- Leverage browser caching
- Optimize CSS Delivery
- Prioritize visible content
...but here are some tips that you can implement yourself to significantly improve your website.
1. Choose the right hosting
If you are a client of Brilliant then we have most likely assessed your requirements and supplied you with the best hosting package for you.
It's important to know your options though and how the right choice can boost performance. With hosting you have three different options: Shared hosting, VPS hosting or a Dedicated server.
Shared hosting is the cheapest option where you share certain resources like CPU, disk space, and RAM with other sites hosted on the same server.
VPS hosting, you still share a server with other sites, but you have your own dedicated portions of the server's resources.
With dedicated hosting, the server and all of it's resources are entirely focused on your website.
2. Use external hosting for large files
Instead of hosting large files such as video content, gifs and large documents, take advantage of 3rd party services such as Youtube and Vimeo for video and services like Dropbox or Google one drive for large documents.
3. Reduce your image sizes
Before you upload that insanely high resolution image to your blog or news post, ask yourself if uploading a smaller version would be beneficial. Sure we would all rather see crisp images over blurry pixels but if it takes too long to load then the viewer has probably moved on.
If you can, use an svg over a bitmap image but if you are dealing with photography, always choose to save images as jpegs over png's.
4. Reduce your plugins and 3rd party software
5. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Beyond the server that hosts your site, you can also use other networks of servers to decrease load times for your visitors.
When your site is hosted on one server, each user who visits it sends requests to that same server.
This means that when your site experiences high levels of traffic, the time it takes to process each request increases, slowing down load times for all of them.
With a CDN, you cache your site on a global network of servers. When a user's browser requests files from your site, that request is routed to the closest server.
You can test your websites load speed using services such as Pingdom.com
and brilliant are always here if you would like to discuss any of the points above.