How to Make Your Website Load Faster for Better UX
When potential customers visit your company’s website, they expect it to load fast. How fast?
According to Google, 53% of Internet users abandon mobile websites that take over 3 seconds to load. Is your website speed better than that? If not, you’re probably losing the engagement of over 50% of your website visitors.
In this article, we’ll teach you everything you need to know to increase your website’s speed. We’ll also show you how to use smart UI/UX & website design techniques to make your website load faster. But, before that, let’s introduce you to Google’s Core Web Vitals & explain why they’re important for your website speed.
What are Google’s Core Web Vitals & How Do They Impact Website Speed?
In May 2020, Google released Core Web Vitals (CWVs): a new set of metrics designed to evaluate website performances as per the user experiences they provide. Google introduced CWVs to establish a core set of key performance indicators (KPIs) for measuring the health and vigour of websites.
CWVs are anchored on the crucial role individual webpage experiences play in a website’s overall user experience. Google concentrated on three core metrics to judge the user experiences a website and its web pages offer to visitors:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP):
This user experience metric considers how long it takes for content on web pages to appear to visitors. It measures the speed at which pages on the website load their main media elements. Users don’t like staring at white screens for long periods. So, Google gives poor LCP scores to websites that don’t load their content within 2.5 seconds.
This metric analyses the responsiveness of web pages when users interact with them for the first time. Let’s say you’re checking out a specific page on a website. This page is full of buttons and design elements. You click one of these buttons and discover that it takes a very long time to load the next design element. Seems frustrating right? It is. That is why Google gives low FID scores to webpages that don’t load design elements in less than 100 milliseconds.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS):
This user-centric metric measures how long it takes for web pages on a website to become visually stable. Not all design elements on a webpage load simultaneously. For instance, if a webpage contains a large, unoptimised media file in the middle of a paragraph, this file will take more time to load, compared to the text content. Once the media file appears, it can shift other design elements on the page and leave users confused and annoyed. CLS evaluates whether there are any slow-loading, problematic design elements on a webpage that could potentially prevent visitors from conveniently consuming the content.
A fourth, slightly less-important Core Web Vital is First Contentful Paint (FCP). This metric measures how much time it takes for browsers to render and load the first piece of content, whether is a piece of text or an image, on a webpage.
Why are Core Web Vitals Important?
When merged, LCP, FID, and CLS – the three core elements of Google’s Core Web Vitals – deliver powerful and actionable insights regarding website performances. CWV results paint a detailed picture of users’ webpage experiences on an individual website. If every webpage on your website scores high on these three essential CWV metrics, your website will perform much better.
How much better? Let us look at some case studies:
In 2021, food review company Yelp reduced their website’s First Contentful Paint (FCP) by 45%. Since then, their website’s conversion rate has improved by 15%.
In 2021, Yahoo! Japan News reduced their website’s Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) by .2 seconds. Since then, their page view session durations increased by 13.3%. That means users were spending more time viewing each page on their website.
In 2021, Vodafone increased its website’s Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) by 30%. This move resulted in the website’s visitor-to-lead conversion rate increasing by 15%. Visitor-to-lead conversion rate is a metric that specifies how many visitors on the website make purchases or sign-up for newsletters that qualify them as “prospective customers.”
A year after Google’s initial announcement in 2020, Core Web Vitals was made a permanent part of the search engine’s algorithm. CWVs are now the most important metrics for website admins because they help Google understand how well websites are performing on three critical metrics:
- Loading speed
- Visual stability
These three, along with mobile-friendliness, are now the main factors that Google considers in its search algorithms to evaluate the overall health of a website. Want to deliver better user experiences to visitors on your website? Optimise your website’s CWVs. Want to rank higher on Google? Again, optimise your website’s CWVs, and Google will rank it higher in search results.
In other words, if you improve your website’s CWVs, your website will load faster, rank higher, and deliver better user experiences.
How to Improve Your Website’s Core Web Vitals
To improve your website’s CWVs, you first need to learn your website’s LCP, FID, and CLS scores. To discover these metrics, use Google Page-Speed Insights. This tool from Google allows admins to test the LCP, FID, and CLS scores of each page on their websites for both mobile & desktop versions.
To start using this tool, enter your website’s URL & select the option titled “Analyze.” The tool will analyse each page on your website, and grade its overall performance. Once the analysis is complete, you will receive a summary of your website’s Core Web Vitals metrics. Ideally, the scores in this summary should look something like this:
LCP: Less than 2.5 seconds
FID: Less than 90-100 milliseconds
CLS: Less than 0.2-0.1 second
These are the Core Web Vital scores your website should be aiming for. Websites with CWV scores like this usually rank very high in Google’s search results. You can also access these scores via your website’s Chrome User Experience Report.
Avail this report via Google Search Console, and check the data and insights presented in it. These insights from your visitors will help you understand how your average visitor uses and interacts with your website.
Based on your site’s CWV scores, Google will provide relevant recommendations of what you need to do to further increase your scores. The best website admins and designers regularly assess their scores, and take the recommended steps to improve their sites’ performances.
How to Use UI/UX & Website Design Techniques to Make Your Website Load Faster
There are many simple changes a website designer can make to your website to make it load faster. Here are some of them:
Stop Using Weighty Design Elements
Weighty design elements prevent a website from loading quickly, and should be stopped using altogether on websites, especially on mobile websites.
On-page ads are served by third parties. Any time your site has to call on third-party’s servers, it increases its own loading time. So, your visitors end up waiting many more seconds than they would prefer to receive the content on your page. Plus, most new-age Internet users use ad-blocking technology on their devices. On-page ads don’t earn any revenue. They simply make websites load slower. Try out other monetisation methods like running remarketing ads, Pay-Per-Click Ads, and social media ads. They generate revenue without draining the server’s resources.
Lengthy, multi-page user forms are not only boring to fill for users, they also load very slowly. Replace all forms and contact channels on your website with interactive, AI-powered chatbots. These chatbots are much more efficient at extracting information like email addresses or phone numbers from visitors. They load quickly and enhance the website’s overall user experience.
PNG Image Files:
SVG files in general are much lighter than PNG or JPEG image files. Replacing all the JPEG and PNG image files on your website with SVG replacements can make a huge difference in your website’s speed.
If you are going to use loads of images and videos on your website, why not optimise them for SEO? Include descriptive titles, captions, and SEO-optimised text for your images. In videos, use descriptive alt texts full of SEO keywords (in the alt attribute). If you’re using animation, use JSON animations as they’re not bloated like MP4 or GIF formats. These types of media files render & load quicker.
Consider Switching to a Single-Page Website
This website design trick applies to mobile websites the most. Single-page sites load faster and are easier to navigate. If your business has an extremely singular focus or if your website does not feature too much content, you should consider converting your multi-page site into a single-page one.
Compress and Reduce
Make it mandatory to compress all images on your website. Use tools like Gzip to compress all website files as well. Reduce any existing whitespace in your website’s HTML code. If your website was designed in WordPress, reduce image sizes even further by using helpful plugins like Optimole or Imagify. All of these steps will considerably improve your website’s loading speed and its overall UX.
Test Design Modifications Before Integrating Them on Your Website
Always test design modifications before adding them to the website. Be it a change to your website or a new feature installation, test the modifications using a local test environment. Make sure the local test environment closely imitates the live website. Next, check your website’s load speed with and without the design modifications. Finalise the modifications only when you’re certain that they won’t impact your website’s load speed.
The Google search algorithm is ever-evolving. To please it, your website must adhere to its 200+ ranking factors. Use this guide to improve your website’s CWVs. Make the design changes recommended by our experts. If you need any help with those changes, team up with Design Studio’s UX/UI design experts. We have helped improve the designs and load speeds of hundreds of websites. Our experts will be happy to help you as well.