Website Best Practices: Does Your Load Time Measure Up?

Website Best Practices: Does Your Load Time Measure Up?

By: Katherine Meyer
August 30, 2011

So you have a super cool website with great content, a simple and well organized structure, killer graphics and search engine optimized content?

While all this is great, one of the most important things (aside from making sure your SEO is spot on) is your site load time. We cannot say it enough – check to make sure site isn’t going to under perform because it takes forever to load. 

I know, I know. We wrote about this a few weeks ago but we can’t stress enough how important site load time is to a good user experience.

I saw a stat that actually inspired this post: 47% of consumers expect a website to load in two seconds or less. Even more compelling, if it takes longer than three seconds for your site to load you could be looking at a 40% consumer abandonment rate. Which is potentially a lot of business leaving your site for a faster, but maybe not better competitor. So let’s make a pact, please promise to add a website load test to your regular maintenance routine for your site and we promise to stop talking about this…for now.

In our last post, one tool we mentioned was Google Page Speed – while this is a great tool there are a lot of other free tools that provide the same or maybe a little better information. Two tools that I feel are in the same class as Page Speed are Site-Perf and Web Optimization Analyzer. Both tools dig through all components of your website and analyze how long each element affects your load time.

Site-Perf provides a graphic breakdown of all site components that represents how long it takes for each element to load. Then they provide an overall snapshot of your site load time performance. They also provide some general recommendations about updates you can make throughout your site to improve load time. Pretty handy.

I have to admit I liked Web Optimization Analyzer a bit more. Although Site-Perf report is a cool visual tool, Web Optimization’s report was a bit easier to digest. Their reports are broken down into:

  • A global overview of overall site load time performance
  • A quick summary of the objects on your site that their tool recognized, along with how they impact load time
  • A breakdown of external objects on your site and a summary of how long it takes your site to load at various data speeds

My little data-loving (and often black) heart jumped for joy when I saw this. Once you get through the top line summary, then they get into the nitty gritty outlining all the page objects and their individual impact on site load time. And as the cherry on top – at the very bottom of the report, they provide a quick analysis summary, complete with tiered (high medium and low priority) recommendations about revisions you can make to your site to help improve the load time. I really dig this tool.

To quickly recap, time is money to consumers and you have two seconds — yes, two — to capture the attention of your site visitors. Testing your site load time is something that is pretty quick and easy thanks to free tools like Web Optimization Analyzer, Site-Perf and Page Speed. So don’t forget to regularly check your site load time and tweak your site to make sure you are providing your consumers the best user experience possible.

What tools do you use to check your site load time? Is there a better one out there that we should know about? If so, let us know what they are.

Photo Credit: PRPank