Page Load Time Matters
Have you ever been on a website that takes forever to load? Perhaps you performed a search and clicked a link, only to have the website never load. Eventually, you grow frustrated and simply click back to other search results. The website you were visiting experienced a few things: loss of a visitor, a bounce, and a dissatisfied individual who will likely never visit again.
A seemingly short 1-second delay in page load time can lead to 11% fewer page views, 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and a 7% loss in conversions according to the Aberdeen Group. A load time of 55 milliseconds is suggested for optimal performance.
Page load time is the number of seconds it takes for your website to completely render on a device. With more and more people visiting from mobile, it’s crucial that your load time is quick – like less than a few seconds. Unfortunately, a recent study suggested that many mobile sites are slow to load.
As a result, you’re likely missing out on many visitors. The benchmark of good website design for healthcare providers is a responsive website that loads well without sacrificing quality.
How is your website performing?
Take a second to think about the last time you visited your practice on mobile. If you’re on top of your medical marketing, then you’re likely on your site all the time. But have you ever counted how long it took to actually load the site?
The average load time was four seconds for many sites, which is incredibly long. You can use a variety of sources online to test your load time. These will provide an honest, non-biased look at just how well your website is doing.
What’s the big deal with load times?
The biggest issue with slow load times is the impact it has on your visitors. A slow load time stresses out visitors and can actually lead to a 38% increase in heart rate, on average. This is not a good thing, particularly when it comes to website design for healthcare providers!
When a visitor has a bad experience with your website, they inadvertently blame you. It might be their web service provider or mobile device, but the buck will always stop at whomever is handling their medical website design. The longer the delay the more likely they are to move from the provider to the actual web team behind the site. Regardless of who is blamed, none of this looks good for your practice.
In fact, it reflects quite poorly – making your practice look like it’s behind the times when it comes to web design and online customer service.
Load time also greatly affects your SEO and PPC efforts. Google and other search engines look at how fast a page loads and the user’s experience on it when ranking and giving you your AdWord Quality Score. Additionally, each time a person bounces from your website it’s looked at as something negative, a bad user experience that Google does not want users to have.
Why is my site loading slowly?
If you’ve noticed your site is loading slowly, there are several factors that could be affecting it.
High Definition Images
While that beautiful hero image of your practice might be stunning, if the file wasn’t optimized for the web your visitors could be trying to download an enormous image file when they access your site. Mobile devices aren’t made to handle such large images and as a result, can have a hard time processing and loading them.
The slower load time can be prevented by taking that beautiful image and decreasing the image size so that quality isn’t compromised, but file size is much smaller. Tools like PhotoShop make this possible.
Additionally, tools like Gzip can help compress your pages, which also leads to a reduction in HTTP response. Most web servers can use Gzip before sending them to a device to be rendered. This tool alone can reduce download time by 70%.
Videos are all the rage right now and can make a huge impact on your search engine optimization strategy. They help keep people on your website and offer and engaging and entertaining experience.
Unfortunately, if a video file size is too large and takes too long to load, not only will your entire website be slow, but the video itself might never load. According to a recent study by Ericsson, a single pause caused stress levels to increase another 15%.
Several years ago the thing to do was to create a separate mobile website. Usually it would be your domain with an “m.” in front of it. It’s now highly recommended that all websites, including website design for medical professionals, be designed responsively. This means these websites adjust to the size of whatever device they’re being viewed from.
Use Minimal Code
This doesn’t mean to avoid code altogether, however, it does mean to remove all unnecessary characters without affecting the website’s functionality. This can make a big impact on site load time because that excess code doesn’t have to be processed.
Minimizing code takes expertise, so it’s important that you get with your web design team to make sure it’s done correctly.
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A content delivery network (CDN) helps to cache and load content on servers that are in various locations. This helps deliver content quickly because it’s being sent from a server that’s closer to the individual requesting it.
Use CSS Instead of Images
The design of your website is the best way to increase the page load time of your website. You can do this by using CSS instead of images, putting scripts at the bottom of pages, combining several style sheets into one, and limiting the number of elements on a page.
By doing all of this you limit the number of HTTP requests coming through. These are the number of requests that come through to request each element on your page. Every image, script, etc., has to be requested from the server before it is rendered on a device.