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Website Speed: Above the Fold in 1.923 Seconds

Website Speed: Above the Fold in 1.923 Seconds

Nothing makes your website perform better for your user or search engines than speed. Nothing will remind you that auto racing is a team sport like the pit stop. Imagine being in the lead with a lead of several seconds and increasing that gap on your closest competitor. Your tires are starting to wear and you could uses a slight wing adjustment as the race begins to transition in the last laps. A pit stop requires you to slow down to a crawl (if you call 100kmph/62.137mph a crawl), and then actually stop to have four tires removed from your car and another four added, before launching back into the race. Every tenth of a second in pit lane can be a second on the track, so the slightest slip up can remove even the fastest car from a good position at the end of the race.

Since the speed of pit lane is static, there are only three places you can make up time during the pit stop window. Your In-Lap, or the lap where you come into the pits; your Out-Lap, the lap where you exit the pits, and the pit stop itself. Your In-Lap and Out-Lap is all about how well the driver can get the car back to the track at speed, but the pit-stop is where you can gain the most time, or completely lose it altogether.

At the United States Grand Prix in 2013, Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber had a pit stop of 1.923 seconds! That was .002 seconds faster than Ferarri’s Fernando Alonso’s pit stop in Japan just one month prior. Here’s the video of Mark Webber’s blistering pit stop (the stop occurs at the 30 second mark) in an animated GIF:

Record Pit Stop
GIF Source: Business Insider. Watch the whole clip here. Starts at the 30 second mark.

Why 1.923 Seconds?

I’ve chosen 1.923 seconds as a metric for a website’s above the fold to load because it’s a rather solid number, and an adequate amount of time for a website to load. In fact, you could even get your entire site to load at a quarter of that time with the right server, caching settings, and optimized code and images.

Your Website’s Speed

Studies have shown that users expect a site to load in 2 seconds, and tend to abandon a site if it’s not loaded in 3 seconds. Why so short? Because that’s the about the amount of time an average user’s flow of thought can stay focused with their task.

Whether it’s on your desktop with a FIOS connection, a tablet, or a mobile phone on a 4G network, the speed of your website and how a user interacts with it should be a high priority.

I’ve written about how website speed affected sales for Amazon and how many searches Google can perform, as well as how a SSD can increase the speed of your website with a miniscule investment.

Touch Points For Website Speed

Move to a New Host

Cheap shared hosting is like an apartment building. You hear a lot of things you probably don’t want to hear and it can affect your own well-being. But not all shared hosts are the same. Do your research and find a host that has great support and limits users per server. $10/month hosting should be your benchmark. Anything less and you’re getting much less that your business deserves.

Move to SSD Hosting

Sometimes for just a couple dollars more per month, you can find a 30% gain in front-end and back-end performance of your website. This will speed up your user’s experience and your own administrative experience. Everyone wins.

Minify, Combine, and Cache HTML, CSS, JavaScript

Have plugins or software strip comments and blank spaces, combine multiple scripts into one or fewer files, and cache them for faster deployment for you users’ browsers.

Compress and Optimize Images

Images in this day and age can have absolutely stunning resolution and clarity. But that quality isn’t always necessary for the internet. Find a compromise between quality and size for all your images. If necessary, link the optimized image to the original image.

Valid and Error-Free HTML, CSS, and JavaScript Code

Errors take more time to process than valid code. Make sure that your site is producing Valid HTML and CSS, and check Developer Console in FireFox and Chrome to look for JavaScript errors.

Get a Content Delivery Network

A CDN is a network of servers around the world that contain the same files, and delivers them on an as-need basis to users based on their location, instead of one server sending content to everyone. This can significantly reduce the time for a user to receive your website. CloudFlare has an excellent Free plan that does the trick for most users. Amazon S3 and MaxCDN are affordable solutions as well.

Keep Software Updated

If you’re using a content management system like WordPress, be sure to update the WordPress core fiels, plugins, and themes on a frequent basis. Updates can provide performance increases and reduce bugs and security vulnerabilities. Be sure to test on a development environment first.

Can You Get to 1.923 Seconds?

Leave a comment below to let us know how faster your site loads, and what you’re doing to reduce the time it takes for your website to load? Can you get to the 1.923 seconds?


Featured Image Credit: Gil Abrantes / CC

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