Website speed – what affects website speed
In the first post in this short series we looked at what we’re really talking about when we’re discussing website speed, and in this article, we’re going to look at what affects website speed.
In that first article I pointed out that people who are surfing the web expect a website / webpage to download quickly. They don’t want to be kept waiting, they want their information right now and if they don’t get what they want they move on to some other website that might give them what they want in the time they expect.
Their expectation is that the webpage they are trying to see will download on their device in around 2 seconds. They don’t care about what goes into making the website appear and they don’t care about any technical problems that might be impacting the Internet.
They don’t care about what affects website speed, they just want to see something on their devices now!
Having an expectation that a webpage will download in something less than three seconds is all well and good … but unfortunately, we don’t operate in a perfect environment and what we expect … and what we actually get … can be two very different things.
In a perfect environment there would be no technical issues and every website would be designed to download in the blink of an eye but not all web designers understand the need for speed and so they design websites that are clunky.
And the Internet is held together by the technical equivalent of chewing gum and fencing wire and the fact that the Internet does work … most of the time … is a miracle that most people don’t even see.
So let’s look at the things that can go wrong and slow down the loading speed of your website … and we will divide those things into two groups: the things you can’t control and things you can control.
Things we can’t control
In a perfect world an anchored vessel wouldn’t drag its anchor and snag the main Internet cable between the US and Asia. That happened a few years ago but even now a similar occurrence could disrupt the Internet for weeks
In a perfect world around 40% of all Internet traffic wouldn’t be bots and most of those wouldn’t be bad bots that are looking for easy ways to break into unsecured websites.
In a perfect world your Internet Service Provider wouldn’t slow to a crawl during school holidays or during after-school hours.
In a perfect world you wouldn’t have servers than ran slow no matter what time of the day it was.
In a perfect world the wafer-thin hard drives that carry the files for multiple websites and spin and thousands of revolutions per minute wouldn’t shatter and fail and take their websites offline … but they do, and the miracle is that they don’t break more often.
In a perfect world the servers that host thousands of websites … and your website … wouldn’t be attacked by crooks who flood a website with so many fake requests that the server that holds the target site can’t respond simply because it’s overwhelmed.
In a perfect world people who are trying to see your website would understand that shit happens, and you can’t control it. They would be patient and forgiving but they’re not. They are fickle and, when you can’t provide what they want, they will leave and go to some other site that isn’t having problems.
Things we can control
It might seem from the list below that the things we can’t control far outweigh the things that we do have some control over but the reality is that you might only be facing a couple of the items on the list of things you can’t control.
On the other hand you will likely be facing almost all of the issues below every time your website loads.
The type of hosting and server that your website is on can be a major factor in slowing down your website.
Where your website is hosted compared to where your target audience lives can be another major factor in slowing down your website.
The size of the images and other graphics you add to your website can really increase the time it takes for your website to load. Add the ability to talk to your clients and the loading time of your site goes up and up.
And every time you pull something into your website from an outside source … even from Google … there will be delays measured in seconds.
There are so many extra things that you can add to your website at no cost … but you will pay a huge penalty in loading time. They look great, they do amazing things, but they are always a major offender when it comes to what affects website speed.
It really comes down to one of my favourite lines … just because you can (add all sorts of stuff to your website) doesn’t mean you should. In the next article in the series we’ll look at what you need to do to improve your website’s speed.