July 12, 2023 Read 5 Min

Website Performance: Beginner’s Guide

First impression matters. Nothing frustrates a user more than a slow-loading website. And for your brand, your website is the first point of interaction with your potential prospects, so your website performance should be top of mind when considering a website revamp. Read on and get enlightened.

Website Performance Guide

Food for thought — did you know the duration of our attention span and conviction to stay on a website is lesser than the five-second rule? Can you guess how long it is actually? The answer might surprise you: a mere three seconds or less. 

This fact is concerning to many, but the truth of the matter is — the digital world is fast-paced. 

Users expect instant gratification. If your website isn’t up to par, users and the internet will likely penalize your brand. In other words, your website needs to be fast and efficient to avoid hurting your brand reputation and success. So, how exactly do you do this? 

Simple — you must understand website performance and optimize it to reflect its best practices. In this guide, we’ll provide the stepping stones (as suggested by our web developers) for your next website makeover.

But first things first…

What is website performance?

In simple terms, website performance refers to how efficiently your website performs concerning speed, responsiveness, and overall user experience (UX). For your site to retain users, it must achieve competency in all three aspects, especially speed, in under three seconds. 

A high-performing website brings an abode of importance that is not limited to;

  1. Reduced website bounce rate
  2. Satisfied user experience
  3. Faster conversion and sales
  4. Better brand recognition
  5. Improved search engine ranking

Nevertheless, you can only attain these results if you’ve optimized your website performance. Website performance optimization is the application of various strategies to improve website performance. 

It is important to remember that before optimizing your site, you must conduct a website performance audit. An audit of your site will help you pinpoint the causes for the slowing down of your website performance. It ensures your optimization resources are efficiently utilized.

Website Performance Testing Tools

Choosing a tool might be overwhelming, especially with the abundance of options in the market. For beginners, our web developers suggest identifying these three features when analyzing your options:

  • Comprehensiveness – The tool should measure all important aspects of your site, including speed, usability, SEO, and security.
  • Ease of Use – The tool should be user-friendly and produce easy-to-understand reports.
  • Benchmarking – The tool should be able to compare your website performance against competitors or current industry standards.

With these in mind, here is the top 3 most well-known site performance tests you should look into:

  1. PageSpeed Insights – This basic Google speed testing tool assesses your website performance and provides actionable insights for optimization. It rates your site’s performance for Google’s Web Core Vitals — showing you a cumulative score from 0 to 100 for each vital.
  1. Google LightHouse This powerful, open-source tool evaluates your site in various aspects such as performance, accessibility, SEO, and more. With features like performance scoring, detailed diagnostics, and best practice recommendations, it provides in-depth particulars of your website.
  1. GTMetrix – This Lighthouse-powered tool inspects your site and provides comprehensive insights into website speed issues by summarizing the top pitfalls of your site. It also features valuable information like speed visualization with a timeline of screenshots marking significant load time events, a content waterfall, video recordings of tests, and historical performance data to track improvements across time.

Website Performance Metrics

Now that you’ve decided on the tool(s) you’d adopt, it is time to run your website URL through them. Initially, you might experience confusion with some terms after generating the report. Hence, it is advisable for you to familiarize yourself with said terms as it is tremendously helpful in your efforts to determine which areas need improvements. 

Here are the top 5 important website performance benchmarks outlined by our web developers:

1. Page Load Time

As the name indicates, this metric inspects your page’s total time to load fully. It measures the duration your users wait until your webpage is ready to be accessed and interacted with. Simply put, it looks at your website’s loading speed.

2. First Contentful Paint (FCP)

This metric measures the time it takes for the first visible content to render on the screen while a page loads. Content here refers to any element; text, logo, images, background graphics, and many more that a site has. FCP is significant as it helps assess your website’s perceived speed and responsiveness.

3. Time to Interactive

This indicator looks into when your web page becomes completely interactive for users, such as clicking buttons, scrolling, or filling out forms. If a user can already interact with some of the elements on the loaded page while it’s still loading, the page is considered ready to use. This metric is important to gauge the overall user experience and pinpoint the moment users can actively engage with the website.

4. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Another key website performance metric, CLS analyzes the visual stability of a web page during loading. It quantifies the unexpected shifts of page elements, such as buttons or text, which can disorient users and ultimately ruin the user experience. Identifying this metric ensures that efforts to maintain visual consistency are carried out for a smoother browsing experience.

5. Total Blocking Time (TBT)

TBT measures the time a web page is unresponsive to user input during loading. It focuses on when a user has to wait for their interaction to be rolled out on the screen. Optimizing TBT ensures user frustration is minimized, thus improving user experience satisfaction.

Website Performance Optimization

Suppose you’ve reached this far in the guide; congratulations! Now is the time to resolve all the issues identified in your website performance report and improve your website performance. Although the optimization process varies from one site to another, here are 5 recommended best practices listed by our developers that you should prioritize — in case you’re unsure where to start:

1. Minimize HTTP Requests

Combining your multiple CSS or JavaScript files into one reduces the time required for users’ servers to retrieve and load resources. This significantly reduces HTTP requests, improving website performance by reducing loading speed time.

2. Optimize Multimedia

Using varying multimedia (images, videos, and other multimedia elements) is essential in retaining users’ attention on your website. However, unoptimized multimedia increases page load time. By adopting multimedia optimizing techniques such as compressing images, using appropriate media formats like WebP for pictures, and lazy loading (loading media only when needed), you will see a good impact on your site performance.

3. Use CDN

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) caches content and delivers it to users according to their location. By using a CDN, your website can deliver content more quickly, especially to users located in faraway places, thus reducing server latency and improving web performance.

4. Enable Compression

At this stage, you might notice a pattern that smaller files are beneficial to website performance. Compressing website resources, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files using tools like Gzip prior to delivering them to users’ browsers reduces their file sizes. Thus, producing faster downloads.

5. Implement Browser Caching

Browser caching allows a website to store certain resources such as images, CSS, and JavaScript files on the users’ server. By leveraging this, you are reducing the number of requests made to your server and allowing users’ browsers to load without the need to download the resources to their server each time they visit your site.

Last Reminders!

Overall, website performance is crucial to delivering a seamless user experience and achieving your business end goals. By implementing the strategies and best practices outlined in this guide, you can unlock the full potential of your website and leave a lasting impression on your visitors. 

Additionally, it is important to remember that website performance is not a one-time task. On top of optimizing it, you must also regularly monitor your website’s performance to ensure it delivers optimal speed, responsiveness, and user satisfaction.

We hope this guide has been a useful assistant to your website performance journey.

However, if it has been less of a pleasant process for you, fret not — we’re here to help! Our experienced web developers are ready to assist you in developing your high-performing website from start to finish that drives and retain visitors. 

Don’t wait; reach out to us today!