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Page speed matters in web design

Page speed was important back in 2000 when I started working online. Most people had dial-up modems meaning top speeds were around 50 kb per second for home connections. Broadband was a thing of the future, as was YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus.

So why does it matter now in an age of broadband? Why should we still strive to build light pages and efficient code?

1) The world is turning mobile. By the end of 2013 there will be more mobile devices than people. But 3G connections can still be slow. Optimised design means fast loading for short attention spans and a web experience that feels like it’s responsive. If a page won’t load on a slow connection, people press the back button.

2) Attention spans are shorter than ever. We have more information, more distractions than ever before. People don’t want to wait for anything. Faster page load times mean more attention, more engagement from users. We have to design for short attention spans, including page weight.

3) Google likes it and rewards it. Google likes fast page speeds because customers like it. The total experience you give customers down to page speed is critical to where Google ranks you because their job is to provide the most relevant and the best results. And they’ve been incorporating into the search engine algorithms since 2010 (see:

How do I measure my page speed?

This handy tool shows you your speed and what you can do to improve it:

Tactics for speed

  • Run the page speed tool above for technical advice
  • Check content management systems for bloated code & slow plugins
  • Optimise all images on your website
  • On large and heavy traffic sites, use Sprite maps. Think of it as a single image with all your most used images, which stops your browser grabbing images from everywhere.

Can you improve the perceptual speed of your site?

Yes, this tool shows you how specific changes and improvements can lead to your page being perceived to load much faster:

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