What causes slow website loading, and what can you do to solve the problem?
If your web pages load slowly, the root cause could be more than your internet connection speed.
I wrote this article to explain the reasons for slow website loading. I’ll also discuss how slow web pages can affect visitors and give tips for fixing websites that load slowly.
Table of Contents
A website is important to any brand or business, but a fast website is even more crucial.
On a social media platform, the respective social media site is responsible for your page’s load speed.
Similarly, you are responsible for ensuring fast loading speeds for your business website.
If your site is loading slow, you’ll likely lose viable visitors and potential customers.
Slow-loading websites are less trustworthy, and visitors’ perception of your brand depends significantly on your website’s performance.
Here are some reasons your web page loads slowly.
A website’s code and optimization affect your page loading speed. With unnecessary lines of code, features, pages, or your entire site can load slowly.
Your choice of web host can also affect your website page speed.
Some web hosting services charge more for better loading time; your choice of a web host and hosting plan affect your website performance.
If your pages are loading slowly because of your hosting service bandwidth, you can look for an alternative hosting provider like Bluehost that promises a faster load time.
Some hosting service providers also offer other web server options that allow you to get a faster loading time.
If your hosting service wants you to pay more for your website’s load time, find an alternative that promises standard (not flexible) bandwidth.
You can get the fastest speed possible through independent servers, although this might not be practical for everyone.
When running a more sophisticated and complicated website, the type of hosting could also affect load time.
If your problem is your hosting provider, here are three possible solutions:
- Look for an alternative hosting provider
- Choose a different hosting plan. E.g., switch from Shared hosting to Dedicated, VPS, or Cloud hosting.
- Contact your hosting provider to have them explain your slow-loading website and ask for a solution.
A content delivery network (CDN) service is an independent server distribution network deployed in different locations worldwide. It ensures you can serve web content through servers closer to your visitors to ensure website speed.
A content delivery network is critical if you have an international audience. Your page load speed can vary depending on the visitor’s location.
Content delivery networks help make your website more accessible to you and your visitors.
Through a distributed network, visitors can access your web content without going through hoops of database queries which can slow down the site.
Sometimes slow websites happen when there is no local CDN for visitors to retrieve data.
If there are no local CDN centers where visitors can access the site, they do so through the nearest available data center.
CSS is the code used to stylize your pages. While it’s essential to the UI/UX of your website, some people have multiple CSS stylesheets that coincide with each other.
With too much unnecessary code, your CSS can cause website slowness.
One significant problem with some websites is they use too many CSS files when they can just simplify and combine them.
Another problem is that some CSS files load automatically, even when unnecessary.
Here are some ways to optimize your CSS codes.
- Switch from external CSS to inline CSS codes.
- Combine CSS files that can work together. Empty new lines that say the same thing or have similar purposes.
- Use media types to specify when specific CSS files should load.
Microsoft officially ended support for Flash files on April 2021.
If you still have flash content on your website, visitors can no longer view them.
There are other online tools you can use to emulate flash features.
When using WordPress, some plugins let you access particular web objects with a decent file size to ensure your website functions well. Too many elements will still negatively affect your website.
Replace your existing flash content with other similar features.
Your website becomes heavy and slow without healthy browser caching practices.
Things like server-side caching can reduce cache memory and overall improve your speed.
Most people know to delete their browser cache to make a site load faster, but if you are running the website, you’ll have to do server-side caching.
Server-side web caching uses web proxies to retain cached memory from a web server.
With lower cached memory, your speed test results become higher as your website is lighter.
Ad overkill means an overabundance of HTTP requests, drastically slowing down your site.
You could lose valuable customers if you’re not using rich media ads and bombarding your site with excessive ads.
Whenever you see an ad, it makes its own HTTP requests. If your website processes too many HTTP requests, it could drastically affect page loading time.
There is a healthy number of HTTP requests your website can process. Additional HTTP requests above your website’s capacity make the website load slowly for so many visitors.
Aside from HTTP requests, ads can affect visitor perception.
Unoptimized images are a huge problem for some websites.
Some website owners don’t know that they display overly heavy images that consume most of the site bandwidth.
The heavier the image files, the longer the loading time. How much data you use depends on the size of the image.
HD images suit some parts of your website, but heavy image files will cause your site to load slower.
When your website speed drops, this directly affects your search engine optimization (SEO)
While images are good for SEO, they will hurt the visitor experience if you aren’t optimizing them for your website.
When you enable gZip compression, you let the server wrap everything to a single container before the requesting browser accesses them.
Due to everything piled into one, they are easier to access and load faster.
Compression results in lower response time due to the smaller sizes of data transferred to and from the server and visitor’s browser.
Enabling gZip is a great way to instantly optimize whatever content or code you already use for your website.
Overhead is your site’s database, including logs, transients, and other entries from plugins or themes.
These entries get more extensive over time as your site grows.
Excessive overhead can cause your server to time out while it tries to get a database response.
You can fix this problem by optimizing your database through your web hosting.
Hosting providers often let you access a database management platform like phpMyAdmin to help you optimize your database and avoid overhead.
A slow website can affect your visitors. Understanding the adverse effects of a slow site is crucial for running a business website.
Aside from the obvious, a slow website can drastically affect your business.
Here are some harmful effects of a slow-loading website.
If you own an ecommerce website, high abandonment rates (including abandoned cart rates) affect your business. The slower your website, the more you can expect visitors to leave your site.
Higher abandonment rates mean lesser chances of converting visitors to customers. Naturally, when visitors leave your website right away, they miss out on what it offers.
If a site takes five seconds or more to load, this drastically decreases your chances of retaining visitors.
What makes things worse is that some visitors will automatically steer clear of your website if they reencounter it because of how slow it loads.
User engagement is significant to the conversion process. If you want to convert first-time visitors to recurring ones, you have to improve engagement.
A slow website results in low user engagement. If your site has multiple pages and each page takes a while to load, it is harder for visitors to engage.
Poor user engagement also applies to websites with widgets, plugins, and other unique interactive features like games or apps. Regardless of your website’s aesthetic, you still deter people from engaging if it doesn’t load fast enough.
SEO prioritizes optimization and speed because they affect the user experience. Thus, poor loading affects SEO results.
One easy way to rank last in terms of SEO is to have a slow website. The slower your website, the more unusable it becomes, resulting in a worse user experience.
Naturally, Google and other search engines reward sites that load faster since they provide a good user experience.
You could have a sophisticated website with good features, but if it does not load, Google will prioritize a more simple website in terms of ranking.
The rate at which your conversions go down compounds, and the more seconds it takes your website to low, the closer you get to almost shooing off every visitor that comes to your website.
While one second might not seem like such a big deal, it matters if you’re in a business with thin margins that rely on quantity to make a profit.
Another reason your conversion rate is low is that high-value visitors often do not tolerate low site speeds.
The more high-value a visitor is, the more they value their time. If your site lags by just a few seconds, you could deter a potential good client.
Your site loading speed reflects your business.
Professional business websites like Apple don’t allow visitors to wait too long for features to load.
Instead, they simplify and optimize their website to ensure visitors get what they need.
The company sacrifices complex features for simplicity and speed, ensuring a pleasant experience for users visiting their site.
I hope I’ve made it easier to understand why your website loads slowly, including too many ads and too much flash content.
Follow the tips I outlined to improve your site’s loading speed.
However, speed isn’t the only factor you should consider.
An appropriate hosting service is also critical for any website. If you’re looking for a hosting service, you should learn more about web hosting versus cloud hosting.