What can you do in three seconds?
That’s how long it takes the fastest cars in the world to reach 60 miles per hour. Insurance companies promote the three-second rule for maintaining a safe following distance while driving. You can walk 12 feet in three seconds. And apparently, that’s how long it takes us to decide if someone’s attractive, too. (“How you doin’?”)
You’ll read this sentence in three seconds.
In the time it takes to read seven words—you’ll read this sentence in three seconds—more than half of a website’s visitors will decide to leave if it hasn’t loaded quickly enough.
Google uncovered that statistic in 2016. Do you think people have grown more patient since then?
You work hard to drive traffic to your company’s website, but if a slowly loading website scares off more than half of potential customers, website performance becomes an issue for the sales and marketing teams to address.
When developers discuss website performance, they absolutely mean the speed at which pages load, or how quickly various elements on a page load. Generally speaking, this is how companies that build websites use the term. But marketing specialists in other industries often think of a website’s performance in terms of how well it contributes to the lead-generation or sales processes.
However you define it, improving your website’s performance can give you an advantage over your competitors. What can you do to gain such an advantage? A smart move would be to reach out to us. We have helped countless businesses optimize and improve their websites.
In most cases, these are the steps that remove the barriers along your customer’s journey.
Crank Up the (Page Loading) Speed
Josiah Schaefer, front-end developer at Rare Bird, says that websites are “naturally responsive and performant and compatible with most devices out of the box,” and that “developers and designers have to work together to offset the impact” of any of the design- or code-heavy approaches that might slow down a website. As you can imagine, sometimes clients—and designers—don’t want to go the minimal route. We produce complex and visually stunning websites all the time, as we did for Harrison Steel. Our team knows all kinds of tricks to make that happen without slowing down a website.
Simply put, extra features added to websites can drag down the page loading speed if not properly managed. A high-performing website should not be “heavy” with image carousels and incredibly large video files. A lot of developers would say it should be built using plain HTML5, CSS3 and JS.
Don’t know what I’m talking about? Let’s switch to ice cream. Offer vanilla, strawberry, or chocolate and your customers can quickly get their cones. But offer a banana split with rocky road, pistachio, and bubble gum ice cream topped with three different sauces and some imported Spanish peanuts and someone will get tired of waiting for it to be served.
Or as Josiah puts it, “Less stuff = more good.” Yes, a company’s website can have more stuff, but you need to find countermeasures to prevent drag on the loading speed.
Simplify Your Website’s Structure
Another fun fact from Google Data: “79% of people say they’re more likely to revisit and/or share a mobile site if it is easy to use.” Look at the websites you most admire. Most of them will have a reasonable amount of pages listed in the navigation menu—usually four to six categories (“About Us,” “Services,” “Careers,” et al.)—and the structure is designed around what the company views as its website’s primary purpose. For instance, an e-commerce retailer wants to sell products on its website, but a B2B enterprise may care more about using it to recruit job applicants. Nothing should get in the way of delivering a website’s visitors to the company’s desired destination.
The website we built for HGC Industries is an excellent demonstration of the value of streamlining a website’s structure to maximize how efficiently a company’s message is delivered to customers.
Manage the User Experience
UX is short for user experience. Whatever you call the people who visit your website—users, visitors, potential customers—you want them to feel welcome, to get what they need, and (most importantly) to not immediately click away. Find ways to reduce friction in your website’s UX design. Design clear calls to action (CTAs) and create a design that guides your customer’s eyes across the screen. Use white space, and don’t cram too much into one page.
You can begin by watching someone navigate your website for the first time. Where do they go first? When do they seem confused? What do they say as they make their way through the different pages? Full-blown usability testing may not be needed, but you want to have some idea of the actual experience of users.
Embrace Data-driven Marketing
Data makes the business world spin. Without it, how would you know the most basic information about your customer base? Data-driven marketing isn’t new; what’s new is how we acquire, synthesize, and act on that data.
In order to optimize the user experience and design a website’s structure to effectively deliver each visitor to their (and your) preferred destination, you need to know more about them. This removes the guesswork that eventually clutters a website with unnecessary elements.
Over time, especially when a company experiences periods of rapid growth and adaptation, a website can come to resemble a boat covered in barnacles, with new pages and more content added hastily, without the benefit of careful planning. And like a ship with too many barnacles, the weight and drag of all of that clutter slows down the customer’s journey. If it’s too slow, they will abandon ship.
Optimize and Improve the Content
If your website’s pages load quickly and its structure is simply (but effectively) organized, the next barrier to address is the content. We don’t often think of content as a contributing influence on page loading speeds, but more businesses are incorporating video content because 73% of respondents prefer to learn about a product or service from a short video. Higher-quality video files do slow things down if not properly optimized and managed.
And if we’re talking about the other kind of website performance, as marketing teams might, content is a driving force in how successfully a website meets a company’s expectations.
Does your website offer quality content? Or enough quality content? Or any content beyond basic contact information and a tagline? Does it offer what the audience is looking for when they first click on the link that delivers them to your website? If you have not embraced content marketing, you’re missing out on one of the best ways to keep a customer engaged with your website and brand. Create content with purpose and value and you’ll see increased engagement on your website.
Test Your Website Performance
Many websites purport to evaluate your website’s performance—Website Grader, PageSpeed Insights, and WebPageTest are three—but remember, it’s possible that 53% of your potential customers have already bounced without you ever knowing it, so maybe reaching out to us should be your next step.