Users have always demanded fast loading websites. Now, search engines and even social networks are placing more emphasis all the time on website speed. Can your website keep up or do you run the risk of being penalized for slow load times?
A snappy, fast-loading website is essential. Your banking customers or credit union members will abandon a website that doesn't load in a second. If users have to experience more than a few seconds delay in response time, they will leave. Usability studies show that when you shave off even 0.1 seconds off the response time, conversions increase. Making your website even just a little faster is a no-brainer.
In addition to user experience and expectations, search engines and social networks are now taking into account site speed. If your website is slow, you’re not going to get in front of as many people because you may be penalized by Google or Facebook.
Test your website to see how you're doing, right now with one of these tools.
Either of these tools will give insights for both mobile and desktop performance, along with a list of recommendations for optimizing your website to get faster response times.
Time to make your banking website faster.
How are we going to get your banking website to load with lightning speed on desktop and mobile? In this post we offer some of the things we do to make sure websites are speedy.
These practices land in a couple of different categories: Images, Hosting/CMS, and Development.
The tips that involve images, web hosting, and what CMS you choose are tips that your bank's marketing department can handle. The development tips are more technical, but they'll give you a good foundation for understanding the technical side and learning some of the vocabulary. That way you can have an intelligent conversation with your developer, IT team or website design agency.
1. Optimize your images.
Images need to be scaled down to a lower size or resolution. Many people try to upload extremely large image file sizes to use on their website. You can use a tool like Image Optim to save the image for an appropriate size for web. Converting from .png to .jpg can make a huge difference, as well.
2. Use quality web hosting.
Learn more about who your web host is and what their practices are. Are they old-school and overloading servers? What does that mean: If each site is only getting a 100 hits in an hour and you can serve 1,000 hits in an hour, then you'll put 20 sites on it because you don't expect all sites to get all the hits at once. Much of that practice has gone by the wayside with virtual machines, so you get a slice of resources and things are balanced.
It's the same concept as airlines overbooking seats. If your host is overselling, that can turn into a big problem.
Like everyone else, we've used GoDaddy.com and we're not badmouthing them here, but if you're getting hosting from them for $13/month and you can put 50 sites on it, well—cheap providers are cheap for a reason and you get what you pay for. At the same time, I've seen plenty of people who spend $500/month for the same thing they could get from GoDaddy for $13. Providers do make a difference and overselling is the main problem.
Bottom line: Know what you're getting from your hosting provider!
3. Use a CMS that has a distributed platform.
Instead of having one big box that does everything, a distributed platform gives you lots of little boxes (servers) and they all do very specialized things. By doing that, you can push more data and more information through the smaller box because it doesn't have to worry about all the other things. By splitting it all out, you get better performance.
We use a CMS (Zephyr) that is built on a distributed platform. It is a distributed system of servers, microservices, which helps with speed, reliability, and traffic. For instance, you won’t be punished financially for having a popular website that gets a lot of traffic. Using microservices distributes the work, so that all of the websites work isn't being accomplished from one, monolithic server.
5. Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network).
A CDN is a way to distribute your assets all over the world and speed up load times. It's based on geographic location, so you will get served web assets from the server that is closest to your physical location.
Files like images, PDFs, and other content pieces of your website can be managed on a CDN to help speed up your website load time. A CDN also gives you more options for image handling. You can use a CDN such as MaxCDN or UploadCare.
6. Minify the HTML.
7. Use compression.
8. Implement caching.
Caching may be the place where you'll see the biggest gain in faster speeds. Nginx is the type of web server we use and it's known to be extremely fast. It has caching capabilities, and there are other ways of doing caching as well. Nginx uses a method called micro-caching, where you cache a page for a short amount of time and you can serve thousands of requests with that cache, rather than go and "rebuild" that page for each request.
Our developers were testing a server recently. Without caching they were pushing 3,600 requests per minute, with caching they could push up to 70,000 requests per minute. So, it can make a pretty drastic difference.
9. Implement HTTP/2.
HTTP is the simple, application layer protocol that forms the foundation of the web, and it's been around since basically the beginning of the internet. HTTP/2 is a newer, better version that aims to optimize web performance and speed things up for mobile users. It's much more technical than that, but if you want to get the whole back story check out this guide on HTTP/2.
Finally, this is one of those changes that if you can make the change to HTTP/2, it would all be done at your web server level, so the code underneath may not need to change.
10. Use responsive images.
There are a whole set of problems with images and the web, particularly when it comes to mobile viewports. Responsive images are our preferred solution for image handling, and they go hand-in-hand with a good responsive website.
In conclusion, your website load time is important to your users, how they perceive your brand, and for better SEO and social media effectiveness. It's worth implementing these best practices to speed up load times and ensure that your website is as snappy as possible. You'll have more website traffic and better conversion rates to show for it.
Ready to discuss a new website engagement for your bank or credit union? Contact us to get started.