Even if you have an otherwise well-designed mobile site, a slow page loading time can lead customers directly to your competitors. Did you know that most users become frustrated when encountering only one second of loading time? This is an astounding statistic considering that most mobile sites take an average of five seconds to load.
While optimizing the loading time of mobile sites has always been a critical part of capturing and maintaining the interest of potential customers, it will soon become even more important now that Google plans to factor mobile site loading speed into its page-ranking algorithm.
Five basic ways to speed up your mobile site's page loading time and avoid being penalized by Google:
Check your mobile website's speed. If you do not have Google Analytics installed on your webpage, you can use Google's Page Speed Insights to see how your site measures up to Google's one-second page render recommendation. Using a score out of 100, this handy tool will give you an idea of your site's relative page speed. It also suggests "fixes" that explain your site's slowing problems and offers detailed instructions for making necessary changes.
Build a responsive website. While Google's Page Speed "fixes" serve as useful tips for improving your mobile site's speed, you might want to begin by building a responsive website, which will often boost your site's speed in several key areas. Responsive web design automatically sizes and rearranges your site's text, images, and other elements in order to deliver the same exact content to users no matter what device they are using to view your site. Most importantly, responsive design will fix poor mobile rendering of your desktop site. Even If you have two separate websites for mobile and desktop, you will still encounter slowing problems such as faulty redirects. For these reasons and more, beginning with a responsive website will help page speed in addition to improving SEO.
Use a "mobile-first approach" to web design. If you begin by optimizing your responsive site for mobile and then scale up for larger devices, your website will likely meet Google's mobile-friendly standards. In addition to optimizing the user experience for mobile browsing, designing in a minimal form forces you to think about what is most important for your customer and contributes to a simpler, more effective design that will benefit your responsive site's overall speed and SEO.
Avoid plugins. Plugins such as Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, and Apple QuickTime are familiar third-party applications used to render video; however, these kinds of software do not work well, if at all, on mobile devices. Even when used in desktop pages, plugins add to page load time. Not only do these software programs cause problems for the mobile user, but Google now considers plugins in its new mobile-friendly algorithm. Instead of plugins, Google recommends utilizing common "native web technologies" for rendering content such as "audio and video, advanced graphics and presentation effects, network connections, local storage, and file access."
Optimize your images. Responsive web sites use responsive images, which means that images will scale to fit the mobile device or disappear at certain screen dimensions if encoded to do so. However, there are still a few baselines to consider when selecting and compressing images for your responsive, mobile-first website. Since images account for most of a page's weight, optimizing and minimizing images can greatly enhance your mobile page speed.
First, decide if your images are necessary to the website's overall effect; oftentimes, simpler web design contributes to a better loading time and browsing experience. As we all know, however, a website without images is boring and unengaging. Since larger image files make for longer load times, it's good practice to get your image file sizes as small as possible while not sacrificing too much image quality.
If you would like to optimize your mobile site with responsive, mobile-first design, contact DAS Group.