A long loading time can turn visitors off. In particularly bad cases, they may think your site is down; otherwise they might just get bored and click off.
Load times are also a factor in Googles algorithm, may affect your search rankings.
Measuring load times
The first thing is to check what your loading time actually is. Loading your site on your own browser isn’t a reliable indicator as too many other factors are at work.
There are plenty of free tools online to measure page loading times, for example:
- Page Speed
- Web Page Test
If you find your site is taking too long to load, the simplest change you can make is to your images. Large images take a long time to load the smaller they are the better. Issues to look for are:
- File sizes
Lower quality JPEGs and GIFs will load quicker. If you must have the hi-res version, link to it with the lower quality version.
- Image size
Larger images equal larger file sizes.
- HTML resizing
If you must resize, do it in Photoshop/GIMP rather than with HTML. Resizing with code increases load times.
Keep everything local
A common cause of slow loading times is pulling objects in from other sources. For example, although it might be easier to put an image on your blog by linking to it on another site, uploading it to your own server will result in significantly faster loading times.
The more your site has to pull in from other sources, the slower it will be. Avoid pulling in scripts, fonts and images as much as possible.
Code bloat is another common cause of sluggish page loading. Again, it may take longer at first, but streamlining your code will result in a much happier site. In particular:
- Avoid in-line styles
Put as much as possible into an external CSS style sheet.
- Keep things simple
Always use the simplest solution. Scripts are fine if it really is the simplest way, but they take time to run. If you can do it in pure HTML, do.
If you must use scripts, place them in external files so they don’t have to be loaded each time.
Finally, if you’ve addressed all the issues outlined above, it could just be that the server your site is hosted on is slow or over-subscribed. It might be time to switch hosts.