Are Slow WordPress Load Times Are Hurting Your Sales? -

Are Slow WordPress Load Times Are Hurting Your Sales?

Nobody likes to wait. Not for their morning coffee, not for their waiter, and definitely not for your slow WordPress load times!

Google suggests a load time of no more than three seconds, with the majority of sites falling well outside of that range.

By Google’s own admission, website visitors are exponentially more likely to bounce with each passing second of agonizing load time. The difference from just 1 to 5 seconds is already a 90 percent increase in bounce rates.

It’s not just frustration, either. Slow load times imply inexperience or a lack of trustworthiness. Potential customers may see long load times on your website and assume you’ll treat their credit card information with a comparably low level of care. They’ll leave for something sleeker and faster.

You get the picture. People aren’t hanging around if your website makes them wait. So what can you do about it?

Make Fewer HTTP Requests In WordPress

Your web page isn’t one unified object. It’s the combination of multiple files, and each time a computer loads in your site, requests for each individual page element have to be made. Naturally, the more requests your site demands the longer it will take to load.

In fact, images, scripts and stylesheets account for roughly 80 percent of your website’s load time.

How do I know how many requests are loading?

Google Chrome actually has tools for this. In the Developer Toolbar you have the option to right-click and “inspect” your page. Under the Network tab, you should be able to bring up an incredibly useful chart giving you the total number of requests along with load times and file sizes.

Minify Your WordPress Files

You don’t have to gut your website to minimize the number of requests it takes to load. Certainly go through and eliminate anything unnecessary, but you can save all your needed scripts by minifying and combining your HTML, JavaScript and CSS files.

Minifying involves going through these files and eliminating any extra whitespace or unnecessary code. Extra formatting and bulky code is a common side effect of using website builders like WordPress.

Don’t worry if your eyes are glazing over. For sites that run on WordPress, there are tools available to make the minifying process pain free and easy to understand. W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache,  and even Cloudflare are some popular choices. If you are not technical, Convesio’s WordPress Optimization Service might be a good choice.

Compress Images in WordPress

Another method of eliminating that bulky whitespace and combining repeated files is to compress. Tools like GZip make temporary changes to your text files to shrink them.

If you’re curious about your site’s size before and after compression, use GIDZip or a similar testing tool.

Dealing with large images

Text is cheap. Images and videos are more expensive when it comes to hogging load times. If your site hosts a lot of images (or even just a few), then you’ll want to shrink those down right away. The goal is to make the images as small as possible without losing quality.

Plug-ins like WP Smush work great on sites built with WordPress, but there are steps you can take on your own, as well. For example, cropping your images before uploading them.

The site is loading the entire image whether all of it is visible or not, so don’t rely solely on your site’s parameter settings. Crop the image to the desired size and then put it up.

Load WordPress Files Asynchronously

Tools like WP Rocket will also give you the ability to load some of your site’s files at the same time, rather than having each one load in by itself. This is called asynchronous loading and you want to use it as much as possible. CSS and JavaScript files can be adjusted so that some will load in with each other, rather than loading one at a time like a slow-moving conga line.

Set WordPress Site Experience Apart

Remember the Google data we mentioned at the beginning? The Google team found that a whopping 70 percent of the sites they tested took more than five seconds to load. As sad as that is for all those sites that are losing sales and engagement, it means you have an opportunity to set yourself apart from the herd. Speed up your website’s load times to join that other 30 percent, because your marketers work hard and they don’t deserve a slow website holding back sales.

Tom Fanelli

It’s been nearly two decades since I started my journey from graphic design to digital marketing and product management. Those two decades have taken me across the country from Fort Myers, Florida to San Francisco. I have gone from owning my own agency to multiple senior executive roles at large public companies. It’s been my great fortune to work with a world-class team of digital marketing professionals; my hope is that they learned as much from me as I learned from them. Over my career, I have worked in both small business and Fortune 500 companies. I have had the honor of being a presenter for organizations like Microsoft, Intuit, Sage Software, RealPage, NARPM, NAA, and the Small Business Administration. Most recently I completed my first ebook, Infographics in Action, which teaches exactly how to create and market with infographics. Currently, I work in San Francisco and reside in the bay area with my wife and four children. Feel free to drop me a line, I would love to hear from you!

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