Website performance wasn’t always a major factor in the web design industry. Previously, it was all about visual appeal, cluttered designs that many thought looked good.
Today, website performance is everything. The days of poorly designed websites are over. Believe it or not, many businesses still have poor-performing websites and little do they know, this can cause major problems down the road with the likes of search rankings.
What is website performance?
This can be answered in two (2) ways. The first is perceived speed. This is the visual speed a person sees when browsing a website. It may appear fast, but deep down it still performs horribly. Perceived speed is due to several factors, the main being a cached website. This is basically a copy of the site already existing on your browser’s cache, therefore not having to redownload files, making the site appear to load faster.
However, this only works once you have visited the website in order to download it into your browser. The real performance is on your initial visit, how well does it perform then? While perceived speed is well and good, it is not the main ranking factor here.
The 2nd and most important factor in website performance is the actual server performance and site structure. This is what big search engines like Google check for when ranking pages. If your website is slow during its initial load, you run the risk of losing search ranking. Back in June of 2021, Google made website performance a ranking factor. This is huge. When this happened, a lot of websites pretty much disappeared from search. This is scary if you depend on your website for business.
How can you check your website performance?
Checking your website performance is pretty easy nowadays. If your website seems to load pretty quickly, that’s great, but you still need to check under the hood. The best way is to use Google’s own tool, Page Speed Insights. This tool will test your website structure and server to see what underlying issues may be present. It will give information on what problems it found and things that need to be corrected. This test here, which is part of the Google core web vitals, will fail most websites out there.
You have 3 brackets, red (fail), orange (needs improvement), and Green (good). Getting green can be very difficult at times. Most websites are in red and orange most of the time.
You can run a test on our website and see its score. We strive to keep high scores as it is good for ranking and overall user experience.
What can be done if you have a bad website performance score?
Well, this is where the experience in actual website performance optimization comes into play. The information given by Google on what needs to be corrected can be vague, so it’s up to you to research how to make the corrections. For us and many other professionals who do this all the time, we can look at the info and know what needs to be done in order to boost performance. This is a very intricate process that can take a lot of time, trial and error in order to get it right. Also, the server your website is hosted on makes a huge difference as well, so can’t forget that.
If you have a website with poor scores and you don’t know how to fix it, the only option you have is to hire someone who has the experience to make the corrections. We here at Castle Web do this as part of our website design services, so you can be sure to get a high-performance website.
What to look for when hiring a website designer?
While hiring a designer that can make beautiful websites is important, performance is even more important. It can affect your bounce rate and your search rankings. We see it all the time from web design agencies, even most of our competition locally. They say they make fast websites, highly optimized for performance, yet their page speed scores are in the red. Not a good look and not a good message to their customers.
For instance, below is a performance comparison of one of our big competitors here in our area that advertises fast and optimized websites. They are red, we are green.
We always recommend doing research on those you are looking to hire. If a web design agency says they make fast, optimized websites, run a page speed score and see if that is accurate. If they score poorly like in our example, they are selling perceived speed and not actual high performance.
In closing, it is important to know that performance is a major ranking factor. You can’t just have one or the other, you need both perceived speed and server structure speed.