What is website performance?
Website performance is the speed that your website takes to load on different web browsers. Web performance optimisation is the process of using multiple methods to improve a websites loading speed and perform better for all visitors.
Having a good website performance is important for the success of any website. Poor speed can lead to high bounce rates and poor user experiences.
How fast should a website load?
Websites will have varying loading speed requirements due to their design, layouts and purpose. Whilst a standard measurement for websites is to have it load within 2-3 seconds, e-commerce stores are expected to keep this within 2 seconds. This is because the 2-3 second mark is where bounce rates tend to drastically increase. In fact, 40% of consumers will wait no more than 3 seconds for a site to load before abandoning it.
If your website is loading outside of the 2-3 second mark, or if you’re an e-commerce store loading over 2 seconds, check out our guide on improving the page load speed of your site.
Tools to check website speed
Most people aren’t sure how good their website performance is, or how to check. There are 2 trustworthy places you can test your websites speed. For a quick check, look at Pingdom (a tool loved by web developers). For a more in-depth look (and one to help you improve your SEO) check out Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
Page speed & SEO
Speed has always been an important ranking factor. Google have recently taken this a step further by introducing Core Web Vitals, which is a measuring system of different elements of your website and their performance. With Google being the organisation that controls where you rank, with them pushing so heavily on website performance, it means that it is crucial for your to have a fast, high-performing website. If you’re on sure about what SEO is and why it is important that website owners have good SEO, you can check out our blog here on the importance of SEO.
What factors affect website performance?
There are multiple factors that have an influence on your website’s performance. Here we are going to identify the 4 most important factors.
The server that you’re hosting your website on can drastically influence the speed of your website for multiple reasons. Firstly, your web host may provide you with a limited bandwidth and if your website is requesting more bandwidth than what you have available, this will slow down the information transfer to align with the bandwidth your web host is providing. Your other issue is where your web host’s servers are based. If you’re targeting the UK, you want to ensure your web host has servers in the UK. If your servers are far away from the market requesting your website, it will take longer to transfer information from your server to their computer. Now while this might only be a few hundreds of a second delay, this is all it takes to put users off. If you want to learn more, we have a blog about web hosting and the current best web hosting providers.
The damage done by the amount of traffic you’re receiving is dependent on the bandwidth of your website. As we’ve just mentioned, different host providers will provide different bandwidth amounts and usually have tiered payments for a variety of bandwidths to match different needs. For websites with an average page size of 50KB, 20,000 monthly visitors and 5 pages per visitor, they would need 5GB of bandwidth per month. The truth is, most websites don’t achieve 20,000 monthly visitors so they don’t require such a high bandwidth. To work out your bandwidth needs, use this calculator. 1625 petabytes. The reason it is important to know your bandwidth needs is to ensure all visitors have fast loading times and whilst its okay to overestimate your needs (if you have the budget), you should never underestimate. An extreme example of what would happen if you underestimate your sites bandwidth can be found by looking at YouTube. YouTube’s estimated daily bandwidth is 1625 petabytes. To give some perspective, 1 petabytes is equivalent to 1 million gigabytes. So if YouTube were to only have 5GB of bandwidth nobody would be able to watch a video (even in 144p).
Plugins are essential for websites. Plugins make things easier and for most website owners, this means they pile on the plugins to automate a bunch of work and whilst this does minimise their site management, it’ll massively damage their site speed. When a visitor comes onto your website, the front-end plugins you have on your website load. Meaning that, if you had 10 front-end plugins on your website, for every visitor 10 plugins would have to load. For an understanding of the difference between front-end and back-end plugins, check out this blog. Most of the plugins people have can be either removed, or replaced with a more optimised version. If you have a lot of plugins on your website, go through them and make a list of what is needed but slowing your site and what plugins aren’t needed at all. For the ones that aren’t needed at all, remove them. For those which are needed but your current version is slowing your website speed, look for other alternatives with high reviews. If you’re on a free tool, look for a paid alternative as they tend to perform better.
Images & file size
Lastly, the images and files you have on your website can affect the website speed. Large images slow your website and this is something that Google is beginning to emphasize on their Core Web Vitals. The issue is, the larger that a file is, the more bandwidth is required from your website to allow a visitor to download the file. Meaning, if your file requests take up a large portion of your bandwidth, you site will see a decrease in speed. Now, you might not be able to remove these images (maybe they’re essential to the page) but there are many free tools out their for file size reduction that can help combat this issue. This also goes for any form of large files that you’re hosting on your website.