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Why mobile performance is a must

People can be impatient. They don’t much like waiting in queues. They don’t like delays on public transport. And they definitely don’t like slow mobile websites. It’s an unfortunate fact that whilst 64% of smartphone users expect a website to spring into life in three seconds, the average website takes around eight seconds to load.

As well as negatively affecting user experience and potentially losing clients and revenue, poor website speed is also penalised by Google’s algorithm, resulting in lower search ranking. So website performance is clearly important.

What affects website speed?

  • Connection speeds
  • Website hosting
  • Downloading and processing time
  • Smartphone memory
  • Smartphone CPU
  • Number of advertisements
  • Analytics code
  • Sign-up forms
  • Overly large or numerous images

Given average connection speeds, to meet the three second expectation goal, a website needs to be a maximum of 1MG for 3G users and 3MG for 4G users.

And because mobile phones communicate via radio and have small batteries, they need to shut down when not in use. Whilst this avoids them running out of power, it also increases the time that a webpage takes to appear, sometimes taking up to two seconds to establish a connection. This means that in real terms, a website has just under a second to download before its users start getting irritated.

How to improve mobile website speed

Whilst there is no one solution to optimising a mobile website’s performance, there are several techniques commonly used to reduce download time and improve speed. These include:

Cleaning up your code

Minifying your code and getting rid of superfluous lines, whitespace, empty elements and tags will ensure that your browser has less work to do, as will fixing broken links. A tidy site is a quicker site.

Reducing dependencies

Basically, this means having fewer files to download in the first place. Compressing content, avoiding widgets and keeping external style sheets to a minimum will help with this.

Reducing image size and resolution

Creating different sizes of the same image and using JavaScript or CSS3 to select the right image for the requesting device is one method of reducing bandwidth and improving performance. Using an image optimiser is a great way to do this without impacting too much on battery power or CPU usage. Another option is to use URIs or SVGs (scalable vector graphics, created using software such as Adobe Illustrator) instead of images to reduce the number of HTTP requests.

Reducing JavaScript

Try to keep JavaScript to a minimum, deferring parsing until it is needed and using inline script where possible instead.

Optimising caching

Allowing your user’s browser to cache large files for subsequent page requests helps to minimise download times, as will proxy and server-side caching.

Reducing redirects

Another way of reducing website latency is to avoid redirects where possible. Google recommends not using more than one redirect to get to a given source and not referencing URLs that are known to redirect to other URLs.

Using Cloud services carefully

Although Cloud services can be very cost efficient and allow for quick deployment and flexibility, they can also bring a performance penalty, with an average 200-millisecond delay. Make sure they’re called asynchronously so that other processes can run at the same time, avoiding too much time wastage.

Keep testing

But perhaps the most important thing to do is to keep testing and adapting accordingly. There are many free website speed testing tools which you can use to analyse the speed of your site and make adjustments, which will affect your bounce rate, your conversion rate and your site’s usability. Keeping up-to-date with new solutions, applying a range of strategies, and carrying out routine performance checks will ensure that you have a healthy bank balance and happy clients.