We have all experienced the frustration of a slow-loading website. You sit there and watch the spinning icon in your browser as it labors to load the page. Eventually, you will get tired of waiting and move on to the next thing. How long a user is willing to wait will vary of course. A recent Microsoft study showed that in today’s wired world, the average human attention span has dropped to about eight seconds. The attention span of a Goldfish is estimated to be nine seconds!
As far as your WordPress website is concerned though, what is too slow?
There are two main ways to look at this:
Perceived speed: How fast does your WordPress website feel to the user?
This is largely determined by how fast a web page fills up the browser window. This is referred to as the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). A fast LCP helps reassure the user that the page is useful.
The content for the rest of the page may not have loaded yet, but the user can’t see that until they scroll down the page, by which time the content will have loaded.
Slow WordPress websites have higher bounce rates and fewer conversions.
Measured speed: How fast is your WordPress website in a standardized speed test by Google.
According to Google, “Users want to find answers to their questions quickly and data shows that people really care about how quickly their pages load.”
As a result, Google started using speed as a ranking signal for desktop searches in 2010 and began using speed as a ranking factor for mobile in 2018. Interestingly, Google now uses the “mobile” speed test as the primary speed metric for ranking your website.
At the same time, WordPress websites have become more complex in their structure and more interactive in their functionality. Users have come to expect this.
These more complex and interactive websites often must load a lot more code to generate their pages. Some of this code will, by default, load before the visual content and block the user from seeing pages load and function quickly. This is called Total Blocking Time (TBT.) Anything taking more than 50 milliseconds to load is considered a blocking portion. This metric is key to the perceived speed mentioned earlier.
So, we have to find a better way to optimize both the perceived and measured speed of our WordPress websites.
There are a lot of tools out there that proport to do this, but our experience has shown mixed results.
We recently built a WordPress website with a lot of animation and interactivity and realized we needed to find a more robust tool to speed up the website.
Enter Perfmatters. Perfmatters is a WordPress optimization plugin we recently heard a lot of good things about and after further investigation, we thought this website project would be a perfect candidate to test Perfmatters.
Initial results are very encouraging.
According to Google’s Page Speed Insights:
Mobile performance improved from 37 to 85 out of 100.
Desktop performance improved from 67 to a whopping 100 of 100. Perfect!
There is still some work to do for mobile, but Perfmatters has made a huge improvement in this WordPress website’s performance.
I won’t go into the nitty gritty details of how Perfmatters works, but if you have the time, (approximately two hours) there is a great step-by-step video tutorial with Brian Jackson, one of the cofounders of Permatters, you can find here.
Brian literally wrote the book on ‘How to Speed Up Your WordPress Website.’
To sum up, with Perfmatters, you can improve your WordPress website’s perceived speed and reduce bounce rates and improve conversions as well as get better rankings in Google search.
We plan on rolling out Permatters for all our client’s WordPress websites in the coming months.
This post is courtesy of MMC Web Manager Kerry Wolfe