Nobody likes waiting, especially now that so much is available at the touch of a button. But despite better, faster access to information, it still isn’t fast enough. Website speed performance is everything in the digital space, and every second matters.

But how fast is fast enough? Studies show the optimal load speed for any website is 2 seconds. That’s not very long! Websites today often feature-rich multimedia and complex designs, which are important to user experience, but can also drag your speed performance. Creating the right balance is a question of matching your key performance indicators (KPIs) to the design and usability of your site.

How Important is Website Speed Performance?

If two seconds is the goal, then how important is it that we hit it? Turns out, very important. 25% of web users will abandon a page that takes 4 seconds to load, and 74% of mobile users will abandon a page if it takes more than 5 seconds to load. The brain processes information incredibly fast but also becomes impatient quickly. Keeping users engaged with fast load times and optimized website speed performance is crucial to getting them to stick around.

And once they’re gone, there’s a good chance those users won’t return. People remember websites with superior speed performance and user experience and avoid those that are clunky or slow. 46% percent of website users won’t return to poorly performing websites, so make sure you capture them the first time around.

What Else Does Speed Performance Affect?

If your website is really struggling with speed performance issues, then bounce rate isn’t the only metric to worry about. Website speed performance is also an important piece of your SEO ranking, and slower performance speeds will have your site discovered by fewer people. Forget visitors getting fed up with load times, they’ll never even select to get there in the first place.

Website speed performance has been a piece of Google’s SEO algorithm since 2010, and while it’s not the most important factor, it can send you tumbling down the organic search results page. If you use Google Adwords to advertise your website, then slow website speed performance can also affect your bidding strategies, and cost you conversions. It’s just one more thing to consider when testing speed performance.

How to Speed Up Your Performance

There are some patchwork ways to improve your website speed performance, but the best way to ensure your site is as fast as possible is to start from the ground up. Make sure that you design and build your site with speed performance in mind. This means a flexible responsive design that works well when viewed on both desktop and mobile and isn’t burdened by over communicating with external services.

If you’re looking to make some changes to your existing site, however, there are some fairly straightforward bottlenecks you can look for. Google Engineer Steve Souders advises that “80-90% of the end-user response time is spent on the frontend. Start there.”

Oversized Images and Video

Optimizing your multimedia is a great way to begin because images and videos require a huge amount space to load and store. Making sure your images are the right file type and properly sized can save your precious load time. There are several plugins or services you can use for image compression and hosting as well.

Plugins and External Services

There’s no limit necessarily to the number of plugins you can install, but you should make sure the ones you employ are operating efficiently. Sometimes relying on several plugins to do individual tasks is better than weighing down your performance with one plugin trying to handle everything. The more your site has to interact with external services like social networks and ad managers, or even the extra code for your analytics, the more stress it places on your speed performance.

Again, these are important things to remember in the initial design of your website. If the framework isn’t there for a site that’s fast, flexible and user-friendly, then patchwork solutions for your speed performance won’t do you any good. Start with a design meant to optimize your speed performance and you’ll be rewarded with lower bounce rates, improved SEO, higher conversions and a user experience your site visitors will enjoy.

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