What to do when content is weighing down your site

7 June 2016 | by Natalie Fayle

We all know by now that faster webpage load times = better conversion rates and higher search rankings. But we also know that engaging online experiences = higher conversion rates.

Agencies are often faced with a tough brief from online retailers looking for a new website that perfectly showcases their products. They want buyers to be able to watch catwalk videos and view products from all angles, zooming in to see every little detail. In an ideal world, browsing a website should be as easy as sifting through a magazine, and eCommerce Managers are increasingly looking to deliver that with visual editorial content that inspires buyers rather than simply acting as an online catalogue.

But when a one second delay in load time can switch buyers off forever, what can you do to make sure that great site content isn’t to the detriment of the performance of your site?

1.Measure it!

Seems obvious but you can’t monitor what you can’t see. The key measurement here is the speed performance of your site, Google and Pingdom are a couple of the free online tools you can use for this. Make changes and test variations on the number of images shown on your product pages, for example, to see the difference in load time.

Your engagement metrics can also give you big clues when your website performance isn’t quite up to scratch. A bounce rate above 60% or an average visit duration below two minutes is a key indicator.

 

2.Optimise your files

Now we’re not developers, so we won’t dwell on this point for too long. We’re going to assume you have a dev team who is knowledgeable in this area but it doesn’t hurt to give them a nudge if you think your site performance needs a review. There are all sorts of tricks your developers can use to reduce the number of HTTP requests, improve caching and optimise the images on your site.

Website managers can help by making sure to scale down images and specify dimensions before uploading to the website. And keep an eye on those marketing tags you add to your site for tracking, retargeting etc. as they can really slow you down. Make sure all those tags you’ve implemented over the years aren’t still hanging around.

 

3. Talk to your hosting provider

Ok so we would say that. But really, if you’re paying for managed hosting, don’t be afraid to use the expertise you have access to!

Sometimes clients come to us asking for a hardware upgrade to speed things up, and this can help, but often the issues can be fixed without increasing your monthly bill unnecessarily. Slow server response is typically caused by resource over-usage, whether that be a heavy database, poorly coded applications or spikes in web traffic.

If you’re seeing web traffic spikes you may benefit from a more flexible solution that allows you to scale up quickly. Or, you might just need a change to your software configuration to help things run a bit more smoothly. It’s so specific to each client that it’s impossible to say without logging into your server and taking a look around.

Years ago hosting used to be about picking the most suitable box and you’d have to switch to a new one or add more hardware when you reached capacity. These days hosting providers can offer a range of elastic hosting options, such as a fully managed AWS solution or an optimised platform designed to run Magento.

So rather than telling your host which box you’d like, tell them what you’re doing with it. That way, it’s up to the experts to design a solution that works for you from the start.

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