Tara is the in-house content lead at Digistorm, tending to all content needs, big or small! When she’s not writing copy or managing the Insights editorial calendar, Tara is passionate about supporting theatre and live music.
Is there anything more mind-numbingly painful than waiting for a web page to load? Perhaps watching a video that’s struggling to buffer... Regardless, we can all agree on the fact that lagging technology really grinds our gears.
As a culture, we're driven by instant gratification and have developed a zero-tolerance policy on slow technology — especially when it comes to web page load times. In fact, 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less and four seconds for mobile users, though according to Google, most websites aren’t meeting this benchmark.
A slow web page load time is a blind spot for many school websites and a key contributor to high bounce rates. Just check out the data below on how bounce rates increase depending on the speed of your web page load time.
Now that we’ve established that web page load time is a big deal, let’s dive in deeper to understand what exactly web page load time is, how you can measure yours, and what to do if you need to fix it.
Your web page load time is the time it takes for a web page to load from the moment a visitor lands on it. Relatively straightforward, but essential to the user experience. To check your web page load time, jump onto Google’s PageSpeed Insights and plug in the URL of a web page you want to review. We recommend starting with your homepage (as this is where your visitors land first) and then running your website’s most visited pages through the tool as well.
Once you’ve entered the URL, the tool will generate a load time score between 0-100 and provide you with some insights into your result. Here you'll be able to see how your web page stacks up depending on whether it falls into the slow (0-49), moderate (50-89), or fast (90-100) category.
Source: Google PageSpeed Insights
YES. We said it before and we’ll say it again: the longer it takes for your web page to load, the less likely it is a visitor will stay — simple as that. Besides the fact that your slow web page is deterring prospective parents from sticking around and learning more about your school, Google will punish you for it too. Last year, Google released a speed algorithm update for mobile search that impacts search engine ranking for red zone web pages that deliver the slowest experience to users. Google claims the update will only impact the slowest of the slow but with 70% of online searching being mobile, it's essential to ensure this isn’t you.
There are a number of factors that can cause slow web page load times, but to get you started, here are three common culprits you can fix immediately.
High-resolution images consume a lot of bandwidth and can take a while to process. Optimise your web page images by keeping them under 100kb — this will ensure they load quickly and cut down your web page load time.
Images take up a lot of bandwidth, but video takes up even more. If you’re including videos on your web pages, we recommend uploading them to a third-party platform like Vimeo or YouTube and embedding them on your page via an iframe rather than taking up space on your server.
When it comes to your web hosting plan, cheaper isn’t necessarily better. It’s important to take stock of your current plan to see if it’s able to keep up with your needs and if it’s not, consider an upgrade. Here at Digistorm, we use load-balanced networks to ensure fast page load speeds across all of our school websites.
A decade ago, we would have expected web pages to be a bit clunky and slow to load, but times have drastically changed since then. Today, a slow web page can damage your bottom line, cause prospective parents to drop off, and affect your overall search engine ranking. If in doubt, refer back to our first image — every second you shave off your web page load time means a lower bounce rate and higher visitor satisfaction.
Learn more about school website best practice with our ultimate guide.