Page Speed - 2022 Web Design Best Practices
Jan 05, 2022
6 min read
First of all, what is page speed and why does it matter for SEO? Why should we take it into consideration?
To answer this question, let step back and see what happens when users click on a link that leads to a website. Without going into too much detail, the user is requesting information from a remote server (where the website is hosted) to be delivered to them on the web browser.
All of this happens within a few seconds and the website loads in the browser. The time between the user request and the website being loaded on the web browser is what we call load time. And it turns out a lot can happen in a few seconds.
Why Fast Web Pages Are Important for SEO
Now that we know what load time is, let’s explain why it is important. Your application needs to load quickly and be responsive to your visitors. Users access the internet from a huge array of devices, with varying internet speeds. These days we have users consuming online content from the following sources:
car infotainment screens
wearables such as smartwatches
gaming console's and more
Google's Search uses load times as one of their Primary Ranking factors. Around 50% of the users will abandon the page if the page takes more than three seconds to load.
At the 5 second mark, more than 80% of the users will drop out of the page. Anything over 5 seconds and we have less than 1 in 10 people staying on the page. That is more than 9 potential customers lost just because the web page did not load quickly enough. This has a negative impact on the user experience which drives your website ranking down.
You can see how this can have a negative impact on business. We engineer websites following the best UX design to make information and services available 24/7 and 365 days a year to maximise our business potential. Good web design in 2022 does not focus on just good looks, good web design includes also great performance.
Modern web applications built with the right programming language can have a very big impact on the user experience. It is very important for your website to stay up to date with the latest coding language practices and also implement great website design.
Modern user experience design combined with web development best practices can lead to exceptional results for a fraction of the cost compared to paid advertisement.
This leads us nicely to how this is important for search engine optimization. As I mentioned, good web design focuses on the correct website structure and information architecture to present information in a way that is easy to understand by visitors. Good performance gives that really nice snappy feeling when something just works, seamlessly, like a well-oiled machine.
What Your Page Speed Should Be
Ideally, your web page should load in under 3 seconds to meet the basic requirements set by Google. In the Google Core Web Vitals Report, we can see a more detailed explanation of what they look for in a web page and most importantly why. Remember, the end goal here is to provide the best user experience possible for users because the longer visitors stay on a page, the more likely they are to purchase a product or service.
There are some cases where fast load times might not be a concern. For example, some businesses are happy to just have a really basic website with some very basic information there. This kind of business is aware that their website does not bring more business and they are fine with that and there is nothing wrong with that.
Here is the Page Speed Insights Tool that you can use to get a report on how your website performs on mobile and desktop. The tool will also highlight areas of improvement and will provide you with information on how to fix them. It is important to highlight that this tool only covers Google.
While Google is the biggest Search Engine, a large number of users use Bing, Yahoo and DuckDuck Go, so we need to make sure we meet all of the requirements for the rest of the search engines as well.
What You Can Do
There are a few things you can do to improve the performance of your website without getting too technical. The first thing that you should do is check the Lighthouse report for your website for both mobile and desktop. This will tell you where your weak points are and Lighthouse will also give you information on how to fix them.
The most common issues can be:
too many requests happening behind the scenes
content being loaded that you don't need (unclean code)
old and unoptimised code
That's not all of them but those are the most common things. For some of the issues, you will probably need a developer to help you out, but there are things that you can do yourself which can have a great impact on your website performance.
What you can do in this case, is first check the size of all of your images. If they are large, above one megabyte (1MB), try and compress them to be under or around 500kb. Check
if the images are next generation format. Images should be served in next generation format (.webp). What that means is that the images can be compressed even further while maintaining quality.
Also, if your website is heavily dependant on images (for example if you are a photographer), try to select only a few images to showcase. Limit the amount of visual media and focus on written content more. Search engines do not understand images in the same way they understand text so there is no reason to have a lot of images.
There is more that you can do, but starting small is the best way forward. Small and quick tasks give us feedback faster and we learn to do better next time.
How Great Web Design Helps
Great web design is not just making pages pretty. Great web design means also a great code structure that follows modern standards and current trends. Web design covers such a large area that it is not possible to explain it properly in this post. The key takeaway is that modern design should follow modern development and when both of these conditions are satisfied, we have a website that looks great and is fast.
This in return provides an excellent user experience and search engines will reward us by ranking us higher than our competitors. When we start with the basics and design and develop in a way that makes users interact with our websites as simple as possible, we think client-first and this is the most important thing to take from this article.
At the end f the day, it depends on each person what to do. Usually, people who run their businesses do not have the time to look into making their website faster, and that is fine, they have other things to do. But left alone, this could completely negate the effect of having a website in the first place.
If you have a website that has fallen into disuse or it's slow and does not follow the current trends, this has a direct impact on how people perceive you online. You might provide exceptional service, but how will people know if they see a slow website, that is usually built with a website builder that everyone uses? What is setting you apart, why are you different and why should they use your services?
These a the questions that we should be thinking about when we want our online presence to be competitive.
If you follow along with future blogs, you will understand why I dislike website builders and why I generally think that they do more harm than good, but that will be a conversation for another time.
Usually when I am asked, “Why is this important, I have a website and I still get clients”. This is a great question and I approach it from the perspective I mentioned at the beginning of my post.
For each client gained, you have lost more because your web page wasn’t quick enough. It is that simple. It is why Google introduced Core Web Vitals last year to address exactly this issue. A huge amount of websites are simply not good enough and Google needs a benchmark to measure them and serve only the websites that provide good user experience.
Investing in a well designed, modern and high performance website is probably of the best investments that you could make in terms of getting more clients and standing out your competitors