Visualsoft shares advice ahead of Google 'Speed Update'
Page speed really matters to web users, which is why Google has always taken it into account within its desktop search rankings.
In a nod to the changing way people access the internet, from this month it will also be factored into Google's mobile search rankings as part of its new ‘Speed Update’.
In today’s competitive, ever-changing marketplaces, great online performance is of utmost importance.
However, a recent report from digital marketing agency Visualsoft found that 87 per cent of the UK’s top online retail brands rate ‘poor’ for mobile site speed.
This means they’re risking a significant drop in their visibility by neglecting mobile site performance.
As part of the report, Visualsoft has highlighted several changes that businesses should look to implement in order to improve the performance of responsive solutions on smartphones and tablets, and support the ongoing optimisation of their site.
These include looking at lazy loading, which is the practice of only showing 'below the page fold' images when a user scrolls to view them. The alternative is fetching and loading everything when a user lands on a page, regardless of whether they're going to scroll down or not.
Online brands should switch to this format, only loading what a user is definitely going to see instead of serving everything at once, which is usually premature or completely unnecessary, says Visualsoft.
Pages can be displayed on mobiles and tablets in a shorter timeframe and they eat up less mobile data too.
Businesses should reduce file sizes and ensure that the right images are shown to users based on the device they're using.
Adding an image compression functionality to a site’s admin system will also ensure that uploaded files aren't larger than necessary without compromising quality.
Rotating carousels - also known as image carousels - are commonly used by online brands, however there is a growing argument that says they're largely ineffective as customers tend to ignore them.
They can also cause perceptual speed delays on mobile devices as all images must be loaded in regardless of whether a user looks at them or not.
In light of this, online businesses should add an option within their admin system, allowing them to choose whether images are displayed as a carousel or stacked.
These simple steps along with the other suggestions in the report have been proven through Visualsoft testing to provide a 68 per cent reduction on perceptual load times and a 64 per cent reduction in homepage weight, which reduces bandwidth costs.
They’ve also given a 43 per cent overall load time improvement on 3G speeds and a 39 per cent improvement in 'first interactive', which is when a page is minimally interactive for users.
Whilst these changes should be implemented as quickly as possible to ensure the Speed Update doesn’t have a negative impact on business, it’s important to remember that site improvements should be actioned on an ongoing basis in order to boost sales and truly future-proof excellent user experience.