Speed is a crucial aspect in providing a pleasant user experience to visitors of your site. It ensures that a visitor’s limited attention span and time are spent on actual content and not wasted waiting for images and scripts to load. Studies have shown that users will not tolerate more than a 4 second load time. If your site fails to offer a quick response, your users will leave.

In terms of SEO, Google is actively using a Page Speed score in its ranking algorithm. As developers and marketers look to optimize their sites, page speed should be among the top optimizations to consider. An in-depth look into what Google says can be found here: http://code.google.com/speed/page-speed/

“Basic to the plan of speed optimization are hosting, loading and coding.”  -Scott Kindred, SafeHouse Web

Another soon-to-come article that goes deeper into some hosting considerations will tell you which host(s) we recommend and why. But for now, it’s safe to say one word (actually, one name) about hosting: Dreamhost. We are so pleased with Dreamhost’s personable and professional-grade services that we offer a discount to our clients who choose to use them; ask us before you buy and we’ll hook you up.

Onto loading. This is where most of the work is, and also where a huge impact can be made upon the
loading speed of your website. The time is takes to load large images, poorly optimized images or pages overly populated with images will exceed the above mentioned 4-second rule. Creativity and functionality hold hands during the design and development phase of a website project when it comes to prudent use of images. And beyond that, when the site is up and running, care must be exercised in image selection and optimization. The rule: select a minimal number of high-value images and take the time to optimize them. A number of free and paid image tools can be found.

And the coding. This can involve the number of “outside requests” your page has to make to gather it’s loading content. For example, are the images you are loading hosted on the same server as the website, or are you making outside requests to Image Shack or Flickr or Photobucket, etc.? Are you making outside requests for other content, too? The coding should also consider appropriate use of JavaScript libraries to help increase speed.

And by all means, don’t use flash if you want speed and visitor retention!

The websites we build use java script and jquery to make things flashy, where needed, without compromising on speed or search engine transparency.

Here’s the value-add for our readers: contact us today and get a FREE Page Speed Analysis. We’ll send you the report and give you recommendations and what can be, or needs to be, done to give your website’s speed a leg up.

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