Speed Check: Slow Pages Hurt Your Conversion Rates

People have become accustomed to quick and convenient transactions, thanks to the rapid growth of e-commerce. They expect nothing less from their favorite brands; every segment of your target market prefers sites that load quickly if not immediately. As such, the speed at which your website responds is just as important as its aesthetics and functionalities.

In fact, a 2018 Google study found that more than half of mobile visitors leave the site if the page takes more than three seconds to load.

Three seconds — this is a far cry from the average site speed the study uncovered. On average, it takes 15 seconds for a mobile page to load. By then, a website has lost scores of potential clients and with them, countless conversion opportunities.

As an e-commerce site, you need to get ahead — and fast. So, Business Cloud Deals will detail how website speed is critical to your conversions, and how Amazon CloudFront CDN can solve your speed woes.

How Load Speed Makes or Breaks Your Conversions

The standard 15 seconds doesn’t seem like a long period until you’re standing on the other side of the transaction. Website speed is part of the user experience. As with brick-and-mortar stores, you shouldn’t keep the customer waiting.

For a customer, 15 seconds feels like an eternity. So, they bounce from the site — they leave the page without visiting other converting pages.

Is a bounce bad for a website? It doesn’t harm your organic rankings, nor does it affect your ads or directory listings.

A bounce, however, is a failed opportunity to sell because your visitor didn’t proceed to the checkout page. It means they didn’t check other product pages or go to the contact page to ask about a product. The waiting time drained them of their interest, and they abandoned your site without buying or inquiring.

Another complication is that visitors who were frustrated with your site’s load speed are less likely to return. Once a customer has a lousy user experience, it’s hard to get their trust back. You then further reduce your opportunities for conversion.

In contrast, a fast loading time is an excellent start for the buyer’s journey. Give the customer what they want, when they want it, and they’ll likely stick around to convert.

How Slow Is Slow?

If 15 seconds is too long, then what is the ideal loading speed?

To get a glimpse of how long customers are willing to wait, the authors of the 2018 Google study calculated the bounce likelihood for different page loading durations. They found that as the loading time increases from 1 second to 3 seconds, the chances of bounce increases by 32%.

Yes, a delay of two seconds slashes your conversion potentials by a third.

It gets worse: at 5 seconds, chances of a bounce increases by 90%. At 6 seconds, it increases by 106%. It goes to show that for pages with conventional hosting solutions (unoptimized code, no AWS CloudFront CDN, etc.), bounces are likely.

This doesn’t bode well, mainly because most US websites sit between the 5- to 6-second load mark. Here’s a breakdown of average website speeds for various industries:

  • Healthcare – 5.4 sec
  • Media and Entertainment – 5.5 sec
  • Finance – 5.9 sec
  • Travel – 6.0 sec
  • Retail – 6.3 sec
  • Automotive – 6.3 sec
  • Consumer Packaged Goods – 6.6 sec
  • Technology 6.7 sec

So, what is the ideal site speed? With these insights, Google pegs the best practice at under 3 seconds — leaps and bounds ahead of the current figures.

To reach this number, you need to identify and address the problems that are causing your site to slow down.

Where Does the Problem Lie?

Several factors bog down your loading speed. Here are the most significant contributors.

Problem 1: Unwieldy Code

It’s a fact: the bulkier the code, the slower the site speed. It takes a few extra seconds to retrieve a long code with unnecessary breaks and characters.

Solution: Minify your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript codes. Remove all unnecessary characters in the HTML code, like spaces, commas, code comments, formatting, and unused codes. There are several plugins you can use to streamline the code.

Remove external CSS, and use inline CSS instead. If you want to preserve the external CSS, combine all the external CSS files into a single file. The same goes for render-blocking JavaScript; remove the external files, and use inline JavaScript instead.

Problem 2: Too Large Media Files

The larger the images and videos in your site, the longer it takes to load the page. Speeding up your page’s load speed would require reducing the size of the files.

Solution: Optimize your media files. Choose the right format for your images (PNGs for those with fewer than 16 colors, JPEGs for the rest). Then, compress those images. Compressing videos can be difficult, so we suggest hosting them externally on YouTube or other video-sharing sites.

Problem 3: Ineffective Servers

Hosting your site on a single server is likely the primary cause of a lagging site.

A single server is easily overwhelmed by high levels of traffic. As a result, the loading speed goes down. Moreover, physical distance affects site speed; the farther the user is from the server, the longer it takes for information to travel, even if website traffic is low.

Solution: The best remedy to improve site speed is a content delivery network (CDN) like Amazon Web Services.

The Sustainable Solution: Content Delivery Network

The advantage of using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) is that it enables you to use multiple servers. Each of these servers contains static and dynamic versions of your site’s files.

Users can download your site’s content from several alternative server nodes. The load of the traffic is distributed across several nodes instead of a single server. Site speed, therefore, increases.

Here’s how a CDN impacts your site speed:

  • Multiple Server Locations Across the World – Physical distance affects site speed because of the stretch the data has to travel. CDNs shorten this distance and, consequently, improve loading time.
  • CDNs have distributed data centers (called Points of Presence or POPs) in different geographic locations, which are responsible for serving users within their vicinities. Each POP contains edge servers, which in turn house several storage drives for frequently requested site files, like CSS, JavaScript, and image files. Take note that the bulk of the loading time is spent retrieving these files.

  • By storing site files in edge servers across the world, CDNs minimize the distance between the server and the user. When a user enters your site, the closest edge server will handle the request. Thus, the user gets a response faster.
hand holding on a mouse

CDNs bring the biggest advantage to e-commerce sites with a global reach. Amazon CloudFront, for instance, has over 200 POPs in 77 cities across 37 countries. With an Amazon CDN, you don’t have to worry about users located halfway across the world. You have the peace of mind that they’ll get the same superior speed performance as users near your location.

 Storage for Diverse File Types – A CDN caches static and dynamic files that are frequently accessed by users. Amazon CloudFront, for instance, supports content that can be delivered using HTTP or WebSocket protocols. Static content includes images, audio, video, and software downloads. Dynamic files include HTML or PHP pages.

For files that aren’t cached at its edge locations, Amazon CDN maintains robust connections with your origin servers. This means the files can be quickly retrieved and delivered to users as quickly as possible.

Faster Speed During Traffic Spikes – Even if you have an impressive speed site on ordinary days, it will take a hit during traffic spikes (for instance, holiday shopping, seasonal promos, etc.). Without a CDN, a single server handles 100% of the traffic, which slows loading time dramatically.

CDN is your assurance that site files will be delivered quickly, even during peak seasons. It distributes the load across hundreds of servers, ensuring optimum loading speed, even during traffic spikes.

Origin Redundancy – Without CDN, there’s a high chance that your server connection would be compromised because all users request data from a single server. In contrast, a CDN enables automatic redundancy.

Amazon CloudFront, for instance, delivers a speedy response. It has over 200 POPs that cater to the users within a defined vicinity (Amazon CDN boasts an IP address-to-country mapping accuracy of 99.8%). In case the primary origin is unavailable, the user is automatically redirected to a backup origin. You can establish a combination of HTTP 4xx/5xx status codes, which will trigger a connection to the backup origin if the connection with the primary origin fails.

Moreover, some web browsers limit the number of concurrent connections to a server. CDN enables you to override this limit. If you utilize CDN, your users can load different parts of the website from different servers. With multiple parts of the site loaded at the same time, loading times shorten.

In sum, CDNs like Amazon CloudFront works wonders on site speed, and they are an effective solution to decreasing bounce, providing a positive user experience, and increasing your conversions.

Speed Up Your Site Today

If you’re ready to improve your site speed, get in touch with us today. Let’s discuss what AWS’s content delivery network solutions can do for your site.

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