There is no denying the increasing use of mobile devices when viewing videos, using social networks and browsing. This week I’ve focused on Mobile Speed as a topic on my social media. With clients approaching me for website updates, social media schedules and SEO reports I am constantly pushing the ‘faster for mobile’ message all the time.
In Ireland Mobile internet usage in 2013 was 53%, in 2017 this has increased to 77%, this growth in mobile usage has surpassed early predictions and we now have over 3.4 million Irish people have access to the internet today. We demand more from our networks, websites, hosting providers and technology as we expect information to deliver to us faster and faster. However, websites are still falling far behind on speed. The average load time for mobile sites is 19 seconds over 3G connections. That’s about as long as it takes to sing the entire alphabet song.
Slower mobile speeds on websites means fewer conversions
According to Google’s “The Need for Mobile Speed” study, 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load. This means that you are at risk of losing half your potential customers just because of latency. A mobile browsing delay of just 2 seconds causes stress levels to rise by 16 percent and 60 percent of 18 to 35-year-olds will abandon after just 4 seconds.
So your website is a little slow, so what? Well, these delays are also causing you to get put in the naughty corner. Google is tackling this head-on in their results, sites that don’t have a mobile version or are just too slow will be pushed down the rankings. But it’s not just Google’s algorithm that is picking the faster guys for the team, it’s also Facebook. With 80% of all Facebook traffic occurring on mobile devices, they also want us to put on our running shoes and start pounding the tar. Their Algorithm also has a need for speed, “We added a signal to News Feed to show people more stories that will load quickly on mobile and fewer stories that might take longer to load.” your website needs to be lighter.
How can you find out if your website needs to hit the gym?
Simple, Google has a very simple tool built into the browser that can help. On Chrome desktop simply go to ‘View > Developer > Developer Tools. This will bring up the snazzy panel you see here. Click on the little mobile/desktop icon, then ‘Network’ across the top… are you still with me? Finally from the drop-down on the right select ‘Fast 3G’ (this is the average mobile connection for most people). One last thing, tick ‘Disable Cache’, this lets the browser think the page is loading for a first time visitor. Reload your webpage and voila! You get the speed results at the bottom of the page.
You can also test the speed of your website with Google Developers ‘PageSpeed Tool’, enter your website here and Google will show you if it ate all the pies or is a lean mean vegan machine, plus it will give recommendations… give that to your developer, gift wrapping optional.
What’s weighing your website down and affecting the mobile speed?
I’ll start with the simplest thing that most of you can fix yourself. There are many of you out there that will be working on your websites yourself and are probably uploading images to your websites. Well, some of these are Big Fat Images.
Images make up 63% of the average pages total weight. We tend to take an image off our phones and thanks to ‘superfast broadband’ we don’t’ realise that we are uploading whoppers. Before you put the images up, resize them to suit what you’re doing and to less than 1,000 px and 72dpi use JPG or GIF. Try to avoid images bigger than 100MB, ‘Smaller Pictures’ is a shockingly simple tool that will allow you to shrink images to super lightweight ones, without losing definition and sharpness.
Fonts (what the text look like) are terrible troublemakers, we love custom designs but custom fonts can cause big problems. Basically, if a font is available on the device that is browsing then the page is faster to load because it doesn’t have to go looking for files. So use local fonts, these are the fonts that are available on desktop computers.
Browsing on mobile is akin to watching a horror movie. It’s so stressful that heart rate increases 38% with mobile content delays.
Redirects, these are things like pop-ups, ad servers, pages that have been moved etc. Basically, the page that we were supposed to go to goes to another place, or ads are taking ages to appear.
File Requests, some website access lots of little files, images, pixels, scripts and other bits and bobs that are not necessary. how many files are accessed every time page loads will slow down your site – it’s a little like packing for a holiday and bringing all your appliances with you, it’s going to take a while to get them all through check-in. Try to reduce the complexity of your website so fewer files need to be loaded and keep it under 100 files.
Above the fold – get all the important content at the top of the page to load first, then the rest doesn’t really matter so long as the user can begin their journey. This is called asynchronous loading, and with a fancy name like that, it is definitely a developers job!
Since browsing on mobile is akin to watching a horror movie. It’s so stressful that heart rate increases 38% with mobile content delays. We should make great efforts to reduce this stress and make it a simple and enjoyable experience. As my husband said I watch a horror movie to get stressed, when I’m on my mobile I just want to look at stuff not have my blood pressure tested.