It’s a widely held industry standard that if a website takes longer than three seconds to load, potential customers will click away to the competition. So how do today’s top retailers measure up when it comes to site loading speed — and how does your ecommerce website compare?
A recent study performed tests on the top 50 websites in four industries, including ecommerce, to see how quickly their home pages loaded. The study found an average site loading speed of 3.1 seconds. However, nearly half of the top 50 shopping sites load in 3 seconds or less. Amazon and IKEA, for example, both loaded in 1.8 seconds on average.
In addition to its effect on customers, site loading speed is one of the factors Google considers in ranking websites and search results. Google’s PageSpeed Insights is an easy way to see how fast your site loads. If your website doesn’t measure up, here are some fixes the report suggests:
- Minimize redirects: Redirects lead to additional HTTP requests, which delays page rendering. In order to improve site load times, be sure to minimize redirects or avoid them altogether.
- Avoid plug-ins: Although they have some benefits when working with certain types of content, plug-ins can also cause page crashes and security breaches. Plug-ins can also pile up when you upgrade to new plug-ins and don’t remove the old ones. Regularly go through your website to clean up inactive plug-ins and remove those you don’t need.
- Reformat and compress images: When you reduce the file size of an image, you reduce the time it takes to download that image, which also increases the number of images that can be cached. (Don’t worry: This won’t affect image quality.) This is especially important for ecommerce sites, which of necessity include lots of images.
- Plan your homepage wisely: The most important page of your website is the homepage — if that one loads quickly, users will be more forgiving of other pages that load more slowly. Weed out unnecessary content from your homepage, including text, images and plug-ins. Focus on the essentials.
- Choose the right web host and plan: You need a web host that can handle the size and contents of your ecommerce site while also providing adequate load times. If you signed up for shared hosting when you first launched your ecommerce site and your site has grown since then, you may need a different solution. Talk to your web host about solutions that can help with your site loading speed.
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Maria Valdez Haubrich
Maria Valdez Haubrich is Chief Liaison Officer of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her company’s blog at SmallBizDaily.com.