‘Web performance’ isn’t a term that often crops up in casual conversation, especially between small business owners. But it really should do.
Web performance, or the speed at which a web page is downloaded and displayed on a user’s browser, is directly related to website optimisation. A well-optimised web page is one that is easy to use and drives business.
If you’re in business to earn revenue, rather than just maintain a good-looking website, you need to understand, and get ahead of, these trends.
What can your business gain from understanding the web performance market?
Technology is constantly updated. By understanding web performance industry trends, you’ll be able to keep your business one step ahead of the competition. You’ll optimise your website to meet user demand before your rivals have even had time to have breakfast.
Being ahead of the pale means more customers for your business and more profit in your pocket.
What does it do?
The web performance market uses tools and applications to analyse and monitor websites. They want to know:
- Whether important content is being displayed as quickly as possible
- If a website’s pages are loading at the same rate
- How they can reduce the chance of unexpected downtime (time when a website’s pages are not available to be downloaded)
Anyone who has watched with frustration as a page buffers (hands-up everyone who’s ever used the internet) will know how important these features are to a good user experience. If a business’s customers have to wait longer than two seconds for a page to load, they are very likely to abandon that site for its competitor’s.
Where is it going?
Considering how important it is to build a successful online presence, it’s not surprising that the web performance industry is doing pretty well.
The market is growing exponentially and will be worth USD 7.74 billion by 2022. The USA still maintains the largest share of the market, but Asia is catching up and is the fastest growing region in the world.
What is driving this growth?
There are three major areas where changes in user-demand are driving growth. These are the ones to watch:
- A continuing and expansion of e-Commerce
- A trend toward rich media in web design
- An increasing need for mixed-media (images and videos) in content marketing
Amazon recently released a study showing that a page loading slowdown of just one second would cost them $1.6 billion per year.
And it’s not just the big guns who have to worry about page-loading speed. According to Kissmetrics, a two-second delay in loading during an online shop results in cart abandonment rates of up to 87%. That’s a lot of lost purchases.
Businesses can avoid this problem by:
- Using the best shared web host provider they can afford
- Using VPS or dedicated hosting (non-shared servers)
- Using a website builder designed specifically for eCommerce
Web design trends
Changes in web design are having a huge impact on web performance. More and more sites are using (or worse, adding) large, high-quality images and graphics. Or including complex, byte-guzzling features like parallax scrollers.
The more of these features a design involves, the more stretched the bandwidth will be. A slow bandwidth equals poor web performance.
With almost two-thirds of the content of the average website now made up of images, what can you do about it?
Don’t just add more and more technologically advanced features to an old website. Having it professionally renewed or replaced will drastically increase its ability to deal with new features. You wouldn’t try adding tens of new apps to an iPhone 3, so don’t do it to a website.
- Reduce the file size of the images you use by compressing them to JPEG, GIF and PNG (which use fewer bytes)
- Use lower resolution, smaller images for your mobile and tablet site versions instead of scaling down larger images
- Know your limits with quality. The average 15” laptop displays 100 pixels per inch, so using a 300 DPI image is overkill
- Avoid using elements that need to load at the same time. Instead, defer loading the images and elements of a site that are below the fold (below the scroll-line). It’s not like a user needs it to be there before its even visible to them.
Content marketing trends
2018 was the year that content exploded. Search engine algorithms are placing increasing importance on good quality writing. Not just good, but long and with lots of mixed media.
In 2019, and into the future, to keep a page afloat, a business needs long-form blogs (over 1000 words) with multiple, high-quality images, graphics, videos and interactive features.
But, if meeting these demands is so important, how can anyone avoid it?
Some websites will simply need to upgrade. But, there are some steps people can take to help ease an existing site that’s getting a little creaky.
- Host some of the most data-munching content off-site. You can use a placeholder for videos and link them to external sources like Youtube. Your article will still be shared for its useful content, but the page’s performance won’t take a kicking.
- Use placeholders as a way to load content only when a user clicks it. The content is still available on-page, but doesn’t load with the rest of the article.
Whichever way you look at it, the web performance market is yet to reach its peak. Demands on websites are ever increasing and, as a result, so is the need to monitor, analyse and optimise how they run. For designers, developers, coders and business owners alike, getting ahead of the curve has never been more important.