Optimizing Your Website for a Global Audience
To continue our discussion on creating a website with an International appeal, we’re taking the conversation one step further to make sure audiences all over the world will have a good experience when visiting your website.
Website speeds vary from one country to the next, and vary from your location within that country. For instance, peak speeds in the United States average 50.4 Mbps, compared to say, India, where speeds are just an average of 2.3Mbps. It may come as a surprise, but in terms of global average Internet speeds, the United States ranks in at #24, behind Taiwan, Russia, Thailand, and Japan.
Website speed is a critical part of the overall customer experience, as almost half of consumers expect a website to load in less than two seconds, and 40% of them will abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to load.
That doesn’t sound like a big deal until you also consider the fact that a one second delay in page load time could reduce your conversion rate by 7%.
Here’s what you need to do to create a uniformly positive experience across the globe.
Use a Content Delivery Network
ACDNis a service you can use to cache images, scripts, stylesheets and design elements from your website on multiple servers, located all over the world. The benefit of using such a service is having all of that content instantly localized, with every visitor always served by a nearby a server. This cuts down on the load time, simply because the each of these files do not have to travel so far to get to the end user.
To put things in perspective, Just over a fourth of the entire Internet uses a CDN to improve delivery of their website content to users, but almost half (43.6%) of the Quantcast top 100K websites use one.
Optimize Your Images
For an effective website loading time, you’ll want to optimize your images to keep them at a small file size, but the key is finding the right balance between file size and quality. If the small file size renders the image blurry or pixelated, the trade-off isn’t worth it.
Let’s take a look at the three most common image file types, and look at what each of them means in terms of web experience. We grabbed this basic website template vector, and changed variables to demonstrate what varying file type do to the resulting image. We started with a vector because quality doesn’t degrade, but certain formats will cause the quality to degrade.
Use Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator, or other online tools to check the photo quality, size, and estimated download time. Consider the size of the photo on the page, as a smaller version of the graphic will also impact file size.
Minimize Content Where Possible
Pay attention to the overall download size of your web pages, not just the images. Check code to make sure it is clean and efficient, to keep it from being unnecessarily bloated. Consider using a minifier to compress the code to reduce file size. This is especially important when targeting a mobile audience. Opt to load a single page at a time rather than cramming all the information on a single page. Use dynamic content, or continuous scrolling, which loads the next part of a page once the user has finished reading.
You have a limited amount of time to capture the user’s attention, and the vast majority of your audience won’t wait more than three seconds for a website to load.It’s important to factor in the slowest speeds possible among your global users and build a website that works efficiently for them, and not just a small number of your potential users who have fast connections. Making small adjustments to your website in terms of code and image sizes, and using a CDN can yield big improvements customer satisfaction, increased conversion rates, and more sales.