While many people know that site speed can affect your site performance, few know how significant the impact can be. A few months back, we wrote about how a slow site can impact your search engine rankings. More recently, Google has an initiative called Core Web Vitals, which focuses on a user's experience on your site, and speed is an integral part of that experience.
When you start to dig into the statistics of the impacts of site speed, the results are staggering. Here are just a few of those numbers from a single resource:
- 80% of users are more frustrated by a slow site than a site that's offline
- 103% increase in site bounce rates with a page load over 2 seconds
- 40% of customers will leave a site that takes 3 seconds to load
So let's talk about what Markentum does to make sure our sites load fast.
Get a Good Host
A fast site starts with a good host. Yes, we're capable of running our servers, but using WP Engine means that we have a team dedicated to WordPress speed and security. This lets our team focus on other parts of the optimization.
We could also save a bit of money in monthly hosting costs by going with a non-specific WordPress host, but we'd end up paying for it in staff time managing our clients' servers.
Resource Optimization During Development
With a solid foundation in a good host, we move on to the build process and ensure that all our resources are optimized for our sites. Our design department starts this by compressing images and using the proper file type for the image we need. As we build a site, we ensure that we only serve the image size we need by using the built-in WordPress functionality that lets us define an image size so that WordPress produces the exact image and doesn't need to be scaled on the site.
Another recent development we're adopting is adapting to how you should be loading custom fonts to reduce FOUT (flash of unstyled text). We've changed how we load our fonts to make sure that they load as fast as possible for our new builds, as well as go back and bring our current partner sites forward with these new techniques as best practices change.
One of the final steps we take during our build process is to make sure we lazy load as much as possible. This means that external tracking scripts, like we use for Facebook Ads, get loaded after the page is viewable by site visitors. This way, we can get the benefits of tracking for our social team without degrading the experience of site visitors who have to wait for these external scripts to load.
Once our sites are ready to go live, we bring out the big guns to finalize a speedy site for partners. We use WP Rocket on our partner sites, which is the only caching plugin that WP Engine recommends on its servers.
Turning on WP Rocket allows us to reduce load times even further on sites. While WordPress usually makes calls to a database to retrieve site content, WP Rocket allows us to set up a static cache for the site so that visitors are only downloading HTML pages. This is much faster than making database queries, and WP Rocket will refresh this static cache when changes are made inside WordPress.
That means we get to use the power of WordPress to manage our sites without suffering in the performance department on a database-driven site.
While we start with the same base configuration for each partner site, we always take a pass at optimizing further with WP Rocket because each partner has some unique site needs that don't quite fit with a standard configuration.
One of the key differences partners get by working with Markentum is that we continually bring sites we built years ago forward as new techniques emerge in the web field. As I discussed above, as new font loading techniques have been introduced in 2021, we've looked at client sites we built years ago to bring these enhanced techniques to them. Partners don't have to wait for a complete site revamp in most cases to reap the rewards of new technology.
If you would like to learn how we enhance your website, contact us today for a free evaluation – we would love to learn more about your senior living community!