Page Speed: What Is It and Why Is It Important?
Have you ever experienced a webpage that took too long to load? Remember how frustrating that was? Well, you’re not alone. How fast (or slow) a page loads is a major contributing factor to page abandonment, and it plays an important role in your website’s SEO rankings, user experience and overall functionality.
According to surveys done by Akamai and Gomez.com, 40 percent of people will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. For e-commerce sites, 52 percent of online shoppers state that quick page loading is important to their site loyalty.
This is the first in a series of posts focused on page speed. The following two posts in this series will cover why it’s important as well as some basic tips to improve your own page speed.
What is page speed?
Page speed is the amount of time it takes for a webpage to become visible and fully interactive by a user. There are a few different metrics that are commonly used to measure this:
First Meaningful Paint
First meaningful paint is the first point that the page’s primary, above-the-fold content becomes visible. This can include any styles, fonts, or images that are critical to the display of the page. For example, if you’re using a custom web font for your page text and you’re not loading the font asynchronously, the first meaningful paint would not occur until that font has been loaded and appears on the page.
This is typically the most important of the metrics as it is directly visible to the user. If you reduce your first meaningful paint time from three seconds to 1.5 seconds, that is an obvious change that your users will experience.
First interactive is when the page has become minimally interactive for the user. Most, but not necessarily all, elements on the page are interactive and the page responds, on average, to most user input.
A page would be consistently interactive when all functionality is available to user and there are no more than two active network connections in process. This would be when all interactive elements on the page that are part of the initial load have finished downloading and processing and are fully rendered.
By combining these three measurements we can get a good idea of how fast a page appears to load for the average user. When measuring these speeds it’s important to remember that not every user is going to have the same connection speed as you. For example, Google predicts that 70% of cellular network connections globally will occur at 3G or slower speeds through 2020. This is also the standard that Google uses to determine your site’s page speed score.
Check back for part two of this series on why your page speed is so important.
Interested in your website’s page speeds? Contact us today for a free assessment.