Data released by Statista suggests that mobile devices – excluding tablets – accounted for around half of all global web traffic in the third quarter of 2020. That is one reason to make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Further, Google considers loading speed when ranking websites, which, in turn, may have a bearing on how easily people can find your website. If you, like many others, are wondering how to speed up a mobile site, continuing reading would be in your best interest.
What Makes for a Good Load Time?
The average mobile loading speed for landing pages stands at 22 seconds. However, more than 50% of users abandon websites that take more than three seconds to load. In addition, as loading time increases from one to six seconds, the possibility of users leaving increases by over 100%.
Google shares best practices when it comes to the loading time of mobile pages.
- Average speed index (how quickly a user can view content) – Less than three seconds
- Average time for first byte (how quick and responsive a server is in a given category) – Less than 1.4 seconds
- Average request count (how many individual content pieces the page needs to display) – Less than 50
- Average page weight (how heavy a page is, in bytes) – Less than 500 KB
Testing Your Website’s Mobile Loading Speed
In order to find out what measures you need to take to speed up your website, you need to test its mobile loading speed first. While you might feel your website loads quickly enough, that might not really be the case. Fortunately, you may test mobile page speed by using free online tools.
You may run the GTmetrix mobile test through its website, and you may also add it as a plugin in your website’s dashboard. Its report gives you an indication of total page size and loading time, and it also highlights which parts of your website require optimization. Some of the other popular tools you may consider using include:
- Google Analytics
- Google Mobile Website Speed Testing Tool
- Google PageSpeed Insights
- WebPage Test
- Web Page Analyzer
How You Can Speed Up Your Mobile Website
Speeding up your mobile website requires that you implement different measures. If you feel any of these are beyond your technical know-how, it is best to seek assistance from a reputable web design agency.
1. Check and Reduce Server Response Time
While the coding involved in your website development plays an important role in its loading time, the server that you use to host it also plays a crucial role. For instance, if your server takes a long time to respond to browser requests, the resultant load time of your website will be slow. Typically, servers start transmitting information with 200 milliseconds of a request.
You may improve your server response time by implementing these measures.
- Minimize page resources
- Improve your web server’s configuration or consider using different webserver software
- Make sure your website has enough memory and CPU resources
Looking for the most affordable hosting option might work well initially. However, as your site starts getting increased traffic, you need to think about upgrading. When you move beyond basic hosting packages, your options include:
- Shared hosting. You share all resources with other websites, and traffic spikes to other sites might have an adverse effect of your site’s loading time.
- VPS hosting. You get a dedicated portion of a server’s resources.
- Dedicated server. You get a dedicated server as well as control over the server’s configuration.
2. Remove Ads
Consider removing on-page ads as they make your site reliant on third parties’ servers, and this can have an adverse effect on loading time. Besides, more than a quarter of Americans make use of ad-blocking technology. You may consider using other monetization methods that do not affect how quickly your site loads. These may come in the form of remarketing and social media ads.
3. Reconsider Using Pop-Ups and Unnecessary Plugins
According to Google, using pop-ups in mobile websites is alright in some instances. A problem arises if you’ve built your site using WordPress or a different content management system (CMS) and are using plugins to create pop-ups. This is because pop-ups would end up slowing down the loading time of your website by generating additional HTTP requests. Further, data released by ThemeIsle suggests that SEO plugins can slow down loading times by over 10%, security plugins by over 20%, and e-commerce plugins by over 30%.
4. Provide a Quick First Impression
Your website needs to display content in some form as quickly as possible, failing which you may expect a high bounce rate. Google suggests following these steps to ensure that your website starts loading in quick time.
- Get above-the-fold content to load before below-the-fold content. Above-the-fold content refers to content that a user can see before starting to scroll down. Delivering this content within one second is ideal, and the time it takes for the page’s interactive elements to load should limit to below five seconds. Achieving this requires coding your website in a manner that the server transmits the data required to display above-the-fold content first. Then, a user gets to view the content as ready even as the rest of the page continues to load.
5. Make Your Website Lighter
Websites and web pages have become considerably heavier over the last few years owing to the addition of elements such as HD images, videos, custom fonts, style sheets, JS files, and more. From an average web page size of around 450 KB in 2010, the number increased to around 2,000 KB in 2020. However, the premise that the lighter a webpage is the quicker it will load still holds true. If you’re wondering how to build a mobile-optimized website or how to tweak your existing one to make it faster, keeping it light is the best way forward.
- Compress images. While images often take time to load, optimizing them for speed is rather easy. First, go through your website carefully and do away with images that the website does not really require. The next step is to reduce the size of the images still present without affecting their quality much. If your website is created using WordPress, you may use image optimization plugins such as Optimole, Imagify, WP Smush, or Compress JPEG & PNG Images (by TinyPNG). For websites created using other platforms, your top options include Adobe Photoshop, GIMP, TinyPNG, JPEGmini, and ImageOptim (for Mac). Consider using SVG files for images that don’t have too much detailing as they are noticeably lighter than their JPEG and PNG counterparts.
- Compress other resources. Good web developers have the ability to improve mobile web performance by compressing web pages. They essentially need to add some lines of code and follow a few other measures. You can also use popular mobile web tools such as Gzip, Deflate, Brotli, bzip2, Zstandard, or XZ to reduce the size of your website’s pages.
- Minimize resources. Each JS, CSS, and HTML file linked to your website contributes to the number of HTML requests required to load its pages. In some cases, you might be able to remove unnecessary elements such as white space, comments, block delimiters, size-heavy fonts, and files that play no role in the code’s execution. While you can minify your website’s code manually, the task can be challenging if you do not have the required coding experience. Fortunately, you may use online tools such as Closure Compiler, UglifyJS2, Minify Code, and YOI Compressor to minify your website’s code in a quick and easy manner. Combining files of the same formats can decrease the number of HTTP requests required to load a page, and it can also trim down the website’s total size.
6. Think Optimization
If you wish to optimize website speed for mobile devices, you need to think about optimizing just about every element of your website.
- In addition to compressing images, consider replacing animated GIFs with videos. Use the right dimensions to provide responsive images. Make use of Content Delivery Network (CDN) and WebP images when possible.
- Use one or two simple and light fonts. Refrain from using invisible text when the font is loading. While minimizing the number of fonts makes for consistency in your website’s design, it also reduces the number of HTTP requests required for your site to load.
- Use code that is compatible with modern web browsers. Removing code that plays no significant role and applying instant loading helps. Consider compressing network payloads as well.
- You need to minify and extract critical CSS while deferring non-critical CSS. Optimizing background images through media queries can also help.
- Lazy loading. Lazy loading ensures that elements of a page load only when a user scrolls to the section in question. This way, the entire page does not have to load at the same time.
7. Steer Clear of Page Redirects
When your website has a redirect, it involves an added HTTP request-response cycle, and this leads to a delay in the loading of a page. Unfortunately, the process repeats for every file that is part of the page and can, at times, be rather time-consuming. Consider these examples:
- abc.com makes use of a completely responsive design and provides and a quick and optimized experience.
- abc.com redirects to m.abc.com, which involves a redirect, and slows down the user experience.
- abc.net redirects to abc.com which further redirects to m.abc.com, which makes for a very slow user experience.
Different online tools give webmasters easy means to detect redirects. Some of the popular ones include Redirect Detective, Redirect Path, Redirect Mapper and NoRedirect.
8. Reduce Steps
Consider this – would you go through six steps to complete a process when you can do it in three instead? From your customers’ point of view, the lesser they have to do, the better it is for your business. Reducing steps helps shorten the sales funnel, and it also provides a better user experience. If you take a look at popular e-commerce websites, you will notice that several follow this mantra.
Eliminating steps also helps minimize coding, because the fewer pages your website has, the lesser it requires in terms of coding. To move from a non-mobile-optimized website to one that is, paying attention to this aspect is very important.
If you’re wondering how to build a mobile-optimized website, paying attention to loading time is crucial. This is because delivering a great user experience requires that your mobile-optimized website should completely load in less than five seconds. Reducing processing load on mobile devices by minifying coding and optimizing various elements such as HTML, CSS, and images can have the desired effect.
Removing unnecessary design elements, especially the heavier ones, can have a noticeable effect on loading speed, as can simplifying web design, and making sure your website does not suffer because of server issues. Speeding up your website will not just provide a better user experience, but will bode well with search engine rankings as well.
If you use the techniques discussed in this post, you can get on the path to mobile site speed optimization. In case you feel you don’t have the required know-how, consider seeking help from an expert in this field.