5 Reasons Why Your Website is Loading Slowly

What to look for and improve when considering site performance

A turtle
Website load times can sometimes feel very slow.

A website that loads quickly, regardless of the device being used to access it, contributes to your online success in a number of ways:

  1. It prevents impatient visitors from leaving your site because it took too long to load.
  2. It can help with search engine rankings since Google loves a fast loading website.
  3. It creates a better user experience, which will contribute to customer loyalty.
  4. It creates happy customers who are more likely to link to your site or share it via social media.
  1. It minimizes the possibility that elements of a page do not load at all due to a slow connection.

If you are building a brand new website, page speed and overall performance should be one of your team’s key priorities. You should establish a performance budget for the new site and adhere to it during development.

If you are not in the midst of a site redesign, you should still do what you can to improve performance. This starts by testing your current site to see how it is performing currently. Once you run that test, you will likely discover some reasons why it may not be performing at its best, including:

1. You Need to Optimize Your Images

The #1 way to reduce the overall size of a webpage is to address the images that are used on that page. On most sites, images account for anywhere from 60% to over 90% of the page’s download weight, so this is likely the best place to start your optimization exercise.

Ultimately, you want to make sure that any images used on your site are properly prepared for the web and are optimized accordingly

2. Your Site Is Making Too Many Requests

Every resource that a webpage needs to display in the browser requires a trip to the web server to retrieve that file. These requests include the HTML document as well as CSS files, Javascript files, images, fonts, and more.

If your site is making too many requests, the loading speed will absolutely be impacted in a negative way.

One mistake I see on many slow-loading sites is that they rely on an existing website template or theme that does not take performance seriously. Those themes often allow people to easily customize them by adding new modules for navigation menus, carousel displays, or other site functionality. Unfortunately, these models often all require their own CSS files (and sometimes their own Javascript files) to work. If you add 10 modules to your site, you have just added 10 or more additional requests for all of these CSS documents. A better approach would be to combine those CSS rules into one file and one request. 

In the end, the fewer requests a page makes, the quicker it will load.

3. Your CMS Is Slowing the Site Down

The Content Management System (CMS) that your site is built upon can also impact performance. Popular CMS platforms like Wordpress, Drupal, DNN, and ExpressionEngine all use a database to store information for that site, include page templates and content. Every time a page loads, there are calls to that database to retrieve information and display the requested content.

If your CMS is not configured properly, these database requests can stifle your site’s loading speed.

4. Your Website Hosting Is Hurting Your Page Speed

On a similar note to CMS configuration is how your hosting account is set up. There are many opportunities for website hosting to impact site speed.  If you are using a low cost, commodity service, you may have few, if any, options for improvement. If you are working with a provider who is more hands-on, you should be able to work with them to figure out if any hosting changes could benefit your site's performance.

5. It’s a User Issue

Sometimes the problem with a slow loading website has nothing at all to do with the site itself, but is simply a user issue. Imagine someone who comes to your site with a mobile device from an area where they have a very poor connection.

The site may load slowly, even if you have optimized it in every way possible. There is very little that you can do in these instances, but if you have optimized the site and considered page speed, slow connection or not, at least the pages will load that much faster. Sometimes, that alone is a big win.