Every user has experienced a slow-loading website and its impact. It may be due to limited network bandwidth, an overloaded server or simply a lot of superfluous data having to be delivered to the user’s browser. A large volume of unoptimized images is one common reason behind website slowness.
Today, “page load time” refers to the “first meaningful paint”, the time it takes for the content of a page to become available to the user. The first meaningful paint has become the most important metric for Google’s SEO rankings next to the quality and relevance of the content. It is the most relevant technical factor for SEO: How fast does your site display content?
Since modern user interfaces are mostly browser based, they essentially consist of a set of pages delivered to the user’s browser. The speed the pages are delivered to customers, employees and other stakeholders is a key success factor. The perceived responsiveness of this software is crucial to good user experience and therefore a competitive advantage. Customers having to use a slow website do not want to wait. Employees using a slow digital workplace become frustrated and unmotivated. It is not only the user who needs an optimal user experience. Supplying content to other systems or meeting content quality requirements in search engines depends on page delivery speed, too. Google has indicated speed as one of the key signals used to rank pages¹.
To improve website performance, many companies not only engage internal teams but also external agencies, paying to improve something that should be available from the start. But since users may be located anywhere on the globe, latency can become an issue even if the network’s bandwidth and computational power are available at the highest level and the page is highly optimized. Optimization becomes even compulsory if large amounts of data need to be transferred.
Statistics show a clear correlation between page load time and the percentage of users you lose with each second of extra load time².
Bounced users affect the conversion rate. Knowing the changing conversion rate, it is possible to calculate the vanishing revenue of a slow website or the additional revenue of a fast website.
The speed of a site depends on many factors, starting with the backend systems, continuing through the network, the cache and the code, up to the optimization of content. That’s why the first score to be objectively measured is the first impression: The first meaningful paint, i.e. the time it takes for the first useful content of the page to appear in the user’s browser. The average result for optimized pages is a maximum of three to four seconds. However, the more binary content like images and multimedia data gets delivered, and the less efficient the network, the worse the resulting load times will be, amounting to five seconds or more.
For these pages and all content assets, SaaS CMS Scrivito makes use of a seamlessly integrated Content Distribution Network (CDN) based on AWS CloudFront, which distributes content across 200+ CDN edge locations worldwide. Copies of pages are stored in these multiple, geographically diverse data centers to enable users to access the site faster and more reliably. SaaS CMS Scrivito keeps a copy of the content geographically as close to the users as possible.
In addition, SaaS CMS Scrivito ensures that no served images are larger than necessary by resizing uploaded images to many typical device screen sizes. As all other content assets, these image collections are automatically distributed to the CDN. Scrivito does a lot of additional work behind the scenes to make the content available faster: For example, it uses a sophisticated technology to render low-resolution versions of large images first and to replace them with high-res versions after the page is displayed. This all works out of the box – editors just upload any image, and Scrivito takes care of the rest. We call it SEO out of the box.
The measurable success for sites run by SaaS CMS Scrivito is that it usually takes less than 2 seconds to complete the first meaningful paint in the user’s browser. It’s great for user experience, has a proven impact on sales and brand reputation and is crucial to SEO. The page loading speed has a significant impact on the conversion rate and thus on sales.
This blogpost is an excerpt from the “Measurable Success” white paper. You can download it for free to learn about the 10 most relevant factors by which the success of a CMS can be measured.
¹ Source: Google, Webmaster Central Blog, “Using site speed in web search ranking”, 2010
² Source: Solarwinds Pingdom, Blog, ”Does Page Load Time Really Affect Bounce Rate?”, 2018