Why Your Website Speed Matters for Your Business

Why Your Website Speed Matters for Your Business

If an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year.  Today’s sites (and especially their users) simply are not adapted to slow website performance. This isn’t just general personal preference, there is a legitimate business case for investing in improving your website speed.

Speed makes your visitors happy and keeps their attention.

The longer your site takes to load, the more likely a visitor will leave without converting into a customer, and the less likely they will be to come back or recommend you to others. Check out these stats:

  • 40% of people abandon a site that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
  • A 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.

Speed impacts your Google rankings.

Site speed is a ranking factor. The company cares about it A LOT. In fact, they released this message back in 2010 in a blogpost explaining how websites with faster load times perform better compared to websites with slower load times: “You may have heard that here at Google we’re obsessed with speed, in our products and on the web. As part of that effort, today we’re including a new signal in our search ranking algorithms: site speed. Site speed reflects how quickly a website responds to web requests.”

Speed helps your site handle spikes in traffic.

Caching and other performance optimizations reduce the chance of your website going down if you get a lot of visitors at once.

Save money.

Faster, smaller page sizes can reduce your bandwidth costs.

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What are you waiting for? Talk to your website host and/or developer to get your site optimized asap. This week we covered WHY, but come back next Tuesday for “HOW to Improve Your Website Speed.”

statistics brought to you by EfficientWP, PlumVoice.

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Goal-Planning Tips for Your Website Project

Goal-Planning Tips for Your Website Project

What is the ideal action you want your customers to take when they land on your site? What information should they walk away with? These are the kinds of questions that should guide your website design process. Here are a few examples of website strategies and goal-development for various business types. The purpose of this is to provide with you another way of thinking about your project to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

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BUSINESS TO BUSINESS (B2B) – SERVICE OFFERINGS

Guiding purpose: Provide information/resources and generate leads.

The immediate goal of the website should be to:

  • Capture the attention of prospective clients that you don’t yet know about
  • Speak directly to their needs by clearly identifying pain points and solutions
  • Compel them to action (from that point, your off-line sales process will take over but with a far more qualified lead)

BUSINESS TO BUSINESS (B2B) – PRODUCT OFFERINGS

Guiding purpose: feature advanced functionality to drive sales on the site (in addition to information resources and marketing content).

Examples: product demos, sales support, customer support forums, e-commerce, tutorials, etc.

 

BUSINESS TO CONSUMER (B2C)

Guiding purpose: feature advanced functionality to enable consumers to browse an online store and increase purchases.

Whether you need to build new brand awareness or need to maintain/grow existing awareness will have a big impact on the tactical off-site work that will rely upon close integration with the website. E.g. online/off-line advertising, direct mail, email, social media marketing, etc.

 

STARTUPS

*This also goes for businesses transitioning to operating online for the first time.

General advice: front load your process with extra time to define in detail the role the website will have within your business – how it will fit within your overarching strategy and sales processes. Spending more money on this upfront with your developer will save you big bucks later when you’re making design and functionality decisions.

 

NONPROFITS & NGOS

General advice: If your developer charges by an hourly rate, look for ways you can save him or her time by doing work upfront in house. For example, you can save a lot of money by providing your developer information at the get-go:

  • A thorough marketing analysis
  • Your company’s business plan
  • Your branding style guide

The developer will still need to spend time at the start of the project to get familiar with all of this information, but it should help cut down on some of the initial hours and save you some conversations and extra work down the road. What kind of strategies have you tried? What worked and what didn’t work? Please share your experience with us!

How to Make Your Website Project Less Stressful and More Successful

Panic. Desperation. Despair. This is how it feels when you realized the website you just spent thousands of dollars on building is not at all the product your company needs.

You know you’re too far in the game at this point to abandon the project, so you’ll have to spend even more money and time trying salvage your investment and re-code to align with your business needs.

The additional code actually breaks the original unsatisfactory site, and now you need to spend even more money.

The bills pile up, while the whole time you a) still don’t have a functional website, and b) you hate the one you do have because it adds no business value and cost you a fortune.

Does this sound familiar? Sadly, this is the expensive, soul-sucking nightmare for many small businesses.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned from being on both sides of the development process that will help spare you unnecessary pain throughout your own website project.

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1. MAINTAIN BALANCE OF PRACTICALITY AND CREATIVITY.

Your website should absolutely be beautifully designed and reflect the unique qualities of your business, which takes creativity. Practicality, though, is what will keep your project focused (avoid scope creep), on budget, and overall successful.

TIP: If you haven’t already done so, start writing a list of requirements – i.e. the things that are crucial to the success of your site in relation to your sales strategy. These will be the pillars on which you build your site.

Your website will likely look great, especially if you’re going with an experienced designer. Your requirements, however, will help guide you in decision-making throughout the project and help clearly establish mutual expectations with your developer.

“Web projects are successful when practicality and creativity meet in appropriate measure.”

– Christopher Butler, author of The Strategic Web Designer

2. CLIENT INVOLVEMENT THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE PROCESS IS A MUST.

Website development is not a spectator sport – a good website cannot be built without significant involvement from the client throughout every stage of the project.

But Sarah, that sounds like a lot of work, and we’re already busy.” Yes, it will require work on the your part, but by being involved from ideation through implementation, you will save valuable time and money in the long run, and will likely be much more satisfied, confident, and excited about the end product.

TIP: Implement regular status meetings. If your developer does not have regular tag-up meetings scheduled through the life of the project, request a weekly or biweekly meeting to review the site thus far and check it against your requirements. The earlier and more frequent you can confirm design decisions, the more money will stay in your pocket.

Note: These meetings do not need to be long, they just need to happen.

3. HAVE A COMMON VISION.

I cannot stress this enough.

TIP: Before anyone starts to code, write down your vision for the company and its web presence and get approval/buy-in from each person on your project team (including the developer).

must be clearly communicated to all members of the team and the developer. You can even have everyone sign the vision/charter to incorporate into your website documentation.

It’s that important. After all, this is going to be the guiding principle on which you’ll make critical decisions going forward.

You’d be amazed at how many web projects meet their milestones but fail at launch because the purpose was not clearly agreed upon and communicated at the beginning. The result? A near useless website.

4. HASTE = WASTE. 

If you’re trying to “just get it done” in order to meet a looming event (such as a trade show), be prepared for your project to be either impossible, expensive, disappointing, or in many cases all of these at once. Woof.

So how much time do you need to make a solid website? That’s what we all want to know, right? Not to be cheeky, but this will completely depend on the scope of your project – the general size of the site, the level of complexity, the existing state of the site (if any), and other functional requirements.

TIP: Trust your developer on the timeline they expect to create the website your company needs. You hired them because they are a subject matter expert, and you’re paying them a lot of money to get the project right the first time.

TIP: Build in slack. Know that things will go wrong at some point, naturally, so spare yourself some agony and build in slack.

TIP: Communicate timelines before signing the contract. Meet with your developer as soon as you decide to do your web project, and be very upfront about your deadlines, budget, and expectations. It may be that your current site (yeah, the one that you loathe) is actually a better option for welcoming traffic during that upcoming event rather than pushing out another underwhelming and ineffective web solution. The whole “do it right the first time” is well worth it when it comes to website development.

TIP: Your deadlines must be reasonable. Deadlines are absolutely necessary, but they are only effective when they are realistic and expectations are managed.

“…Anxiety is, without question, an unhealthy catalyst for a complex web project and a poison for one already underway. [These decisions] were made far too late to have any hope of satisfying anyone’s expectations.
By then, though the big event that got the ball rolling in the first place may have long passed, the stress remains. No matter what the new deadline becomes, it’s not likely to change the outcome: the launch of a mediocre (at best) website.”

Tip: Make sure to build in time for your company’s internal approval process. We all know it can take more time than scheduled to track down that CEO or business executive to sign the dotted line. This is completely out of the developer’s control – the project manager for your web project will likely be the one coordinating the reviews. If you don’t have a project manager, I highly recommend appointing one person to be the go-to for your project. But I digress5.

5. DON’T SKIP THE INITIAL DISCOVERY PHASE.

TIP: Build in time and budget (preferably one week to one month) for your developer to work with you on your strategic approach. Allow time for him or her to do some general market research to find best web practices in your industry, gain a deeper understanding of your business, and become familiar with your intended market/audience.

Even though many of these questions will have already been addressed when the project was initially priced and contracted, the more detail your team (including the developer) has before beginning the actual coding of the website, the better.

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These are by no means all-encompassing, just a few things I’ve learned from my own experience working with developers and eventually becoming one. What tricks of the trade can you share with us? Is there something you recommend that will help set up small businesses for success in their website projects? Please share your insights in the comment section below.