If a new website is being created, there are several objectives that the web design must meet. Some are relatively easy to achieve and are obvious the second you land on a website designed professionally. A prime example is the objective of making the website easy to navigate to provide the best possible user experience, which is achieved via the menu on the home page.
For Users, For SEO, Or Both?
Many objectives of a website are related to user experiences, such as having high-quality content, a visually appealing appearance, and the functionality of the website being fit for purpose in the sense that everything on the website works as it should.
Other objectives within a website’s design will specifically relate to SEO and the goal of the website being ranked highly on search engines, with the prime one being Google. To hopefully encourage Google to rank a website highly, onsite SEO, such as metadata, internal linking, and effective keyword use throughout the content, will all help.
There are also some objectives that web designers will be expected to enable when creating a website that satisfies both the desire for a good user experience and SEO. Here, there is a crossover because many ways you create great user experience are integral to optimising a website to satisfy Google’s ranking factors.
Fast Versus Slow Page Load Speed
One such factor is page load speed, which is how quickly any page within a website opens when someone clicks on it. One of two things is likely to happen depending on page load speed. The first is negative, where the website is poorly designed, and its pages take too much time to open. It can be regarded as slow, even if that is two or three seconds.
Bear in mind modern internet users expect instant results, so when they click on any web page, they expect to see it open in the blink of an eye. If you have slow-loading website pages, the problem is that visitors will immediately click away. On one level, that is a potential customer you have lost, who likely never returns, but it gets worse.
Google can identify how long web pages take to open and measure how long someone remains on a web page. Slow-loading pages and someone clicking away almost immediately are red flags to Google, and if repeated red flags occur due to slow load speeds, then the result is Google lowers that website’s ranking.
Conversely, we have a positive scenario where a website is well-designed and its pages open instantly, which Google will see. Further, when internet users click on that website, they will not click away due to slow loading pages and should instead remain for some time which, again, Google spots gives a proverbial thumbs up to that website and rewards it with higher rankings.
So, assuming you want your website to be in the latter scenario rather than the former, here are ten awesome web design tips that will ensure your website loads quickly and thus promote better rankings.
Optimise Every Image: Images are well-known to slow websites when they load, and whilst they are an essential part of most web designs, they can cause issues. To eliminate these, optimise your images by minimising their file size using image software such as Photoshop, which will retain their quality.
Utilise CSS Sprites: Staying with images is a web design technique that can further optimise images and thus help speed up page open times. CCS sprites let you combine multiple images, such as those forming the background, into one image file, which will load faster than each image loading individually.
Use Lazy Loading: Images again, and this goes to show just how much of an influence they are on page load speeds. Lazy loading helps to hasten page opening by only opening an image when it is in view rather than loading it even if it is not going to be seen in the section of the web page which is currently onscreen.
Avoid Unnecessary Redirects: Redirects can be useful in certain scenarios, but there can be a price to pay for slower website loading times if you have too many of them. Use only absolutely necessary redirects.
Minimise HTTP Requests: Within a web page, every element loads via an HTTP request, including stylesheets, images, fonts, and content. Too many elements on a page can slow it down, so reduce them by removing any extra or not offering anything to the user experience.
Use Only Necessary Plugins: Plugins are great, especially as so many are free. However, just like a child in a candy store, you can overindulge and slow down your website. To reverse this, deactivate any non-essential plugins.
Employ A Content Delivery System: A content delivery system, or CDN, has servers around the world where copies of the files that form your website can be stored and opened when needed. The data centre geographically closest to a user will load your website, thus making its load time faster.
Enable Browser Caching: When a browser caches your website, it saves specific data relating to it so that the next time the same user wishes to open your website, many of your website’s files load faster. However, you must have browser caching enabled within the coding of your website for it to work.
Ensure All Coding Is Optimised: The coding used to create a website can often cause slow page loading, especially with a larger website with lots of coding. This can be addressed by insisting that optimised code is used and compressed coding where possible.
Opt For A Fast, Reliable Hosting Server: This is not strictly web design. However, hosting is essential for your website to appear, so we decided we had to include it. Having a fast host with reliable servers can be the difference between your website loading quickly or loading slowly, so choose your web host wisely.