Do you know how quick your website loads on mobile? Because it’s about to be a lot more important!
Facebook announced an update to its algorithm that will now favor sites with faster load times on mobile. According to their announcement, even a three-second load time can lead to 40% of users abandoning a website. Now the algorithm that determines how many people see your updates will give better visibility to fast-loading sites. Luckily, your reach won’t be affected if your site loads slowly on mobile for user-specific reasons, like bad cell service – but it will be affected by what’s on the site itself.
Facebook has offered some tips for improving your mobile load times, so we’ll break down what they mean, why they matter, and how you can implement them.
Cut back from the back end
As you build pages, write blog posts, and experiment with new strategies, you’re probably adding plugins and building redirects – or implementing other shortcuts that make your job a lot simpler! These things can really add up, though, and the more they do, the more they can slow you down.
Got plugins you don’t use anymore, but never got around to uninstalling? Junk ’em. Maintaining your links by piling on redirect after redirect? Go through and reorganize!
Think of it like a car – if you want it to move as fast as possible, you might have to strip a few of the parts that weigh you down.
Compression happens both at the server level and in the front end – and doing it effectively can make your site’s load much shorter.
One easy way is to compress media like images manually before you upload them, instead of letting your CMS do the heavy lifting.
For example, our own blog’s design automatically resizes images to a maximum width of 670 pixels. When we upload an image, no matter how big it actually is, it’s going to display at that width.
By resizing it ourselves before uploading it, though, we make the actual file size smaller, too – and that means faster load times.
At the server level, compression affects code-related files, like HTML. Check with your web hosting service to see if it offers or is compatible with that type of compression – not all of them offer that option!
Take it global (with hosting)
Multi-region hosting is very important for load times if you have a global audience – and implementing it is quite easy. But, what does it mean, exactly? Imagine the servers that host your website are in New York City.
If all the people who visit your website are also in New York, then the information doesn’t have to travel very far – which means it gets from Point A to Point B quickly.
If your fans are in Japan, however, their requests for information have to travel thousands of miles, and then that information has to travel thousands of miles back. Longer distance = longer load times.
That’s where a global Content Delivery Network (CDN) comes in.
A CDN caches your site’s information in data centers around the world, so visitors to your site access it via whatever servers are closest to them – and those fans in Australia aren’t waiting on data to travel halfway across the world.
CDNs can also offer a variety of other benefits, like increased security – so if you haven’t looked into them before, now is kind of the perfect opportunity! (Providers like Cloudflare even offer free plans, so there’s really no reason to not make this upgrade.)
Use a journalist mindset
Facebook wants you to prioritize your above-the-fold content – which will make a lot of sense to designers and anyone who spent time on the staff of their school paper.
Prioritizing your above-the-fold content is classic inverted pyramid organization – you give your most valuable content space at the top of the page, because the further down you go, the more people stop reading.
Use space efficiently near the top of a page. If you have CTAs or other links you want people to click, don’t save them for the bottom!
Make it for mobile
While the official list of best practices says you should “dynamically adjust [your] content for slower connections/devices,” that’s really just a fancy way of saying you should have a mobile-optimized site.
This is similar in principle to eliminating all those old plugins and things that we mentioned before – the mobile version of your site should be a lot leaner and meaner, without all the bells and whistles of the desktop version.
Make sure that your site’s design is responsive in such a way that trims non-essentials for mobile devices, so the stuff that matters most can load faster!