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Decrease UX Friction and Improve SEO With a Faster Website

29 September 2017 by Al McCloud

Frustrated userHow many of these have happened to you? 

1. You’re filling out an online form, and you had to physically get up out of your chair to find your bank card. With every box carefully filled in, you click ‘next’ and the page refreshes.  First, a flash of white and then the form reloads but your information is gone. Start again.

2. You’re ready to buy some tickets. You click ‘buy’, and nothing happens. You click and click and click… still nothing. You refresh the page, and those tickets you were desperate for just sold out. Maybe find them on eBay?

3. You’re milliseconds away from tapping a link when an ad loads at the top of the page, pushing everything down an inch. Your thumb, previously on target, now taps something entirely different and you’re whisked away to a new page. Click ‘back’. Reload the page. Start again.

4. You’re trying to find the perfect gift. You try the top result in Google, but the page is taking ages to load – do you wait? Will it ever load? Maybe it’s broken. Click back and find something else.

You get the idea.

The friction affliction

That feeling of frustration is one we all know. It’s called friction, and it’s a killer for conversions. Friction confuses your visitors, leads to abandoned carts and lost trust. Even worse, a once-potential customer could now be filled with molten rage, fists skyward as they swear to the heavens that no day will come in this lifetime when they visit your site again. Their eyeballs turn black. Clouds gather. Lightning flashes. You’ve just made an enemy.

Andrew Smith quoteThat’s why it’s so important to make the entire customer journey as frictionless as possible. From the moment a customer searches for your business, to that customer becoming a brand advocate, the journey should feel more frictionless than jumping down a waterslide on a hot day.

Mobile and desktop apps might are the yardstick by which to measure mobile performance – clicks happen instantly. We’re all getting used to this level of performance on our devices, and websites need to keep up. We know that it’s not really a fair comparison; your site needs to be downloaded and rendered on the fly! Users, however, still expect that same instantaneous performance and responsiveness.

So, how do you achieve frictionless journeys? By getting faster. Fast, optimised websites don’t suddenly shift content down the page, because everything is loaded at once. They don’t take ages to process ticket transactions because the solution is set up for spikes in traffic, and they certainly don’t lead to a potential customer swearing a lifelong vendetta against your brand – which we can surely agree is a good thing.

Andrew Smith, marketing manager at digital agency Click Consult, agrees. He told us:

“Speed is increasingly inseparable from positive user experience and it’s for this reason (amongst others) that Google is pushing, and pushing hard, for webmasters to up their game.

“Google announced in 2016 that 53% of mobile users will abandon sites that take longer to load than three seconds; while a SOASTA report saw brands with less than 5 second load times earned double the revenue of comparable sites with load times up to 19 seconds.”

The relationship between speed and search ranking is circular too. There’s no point in appearing at the top of the search results if your website doesn’t load fast enough to keep your visitor. Equally, if your website doesn’t load quickly, then you won’t appear at the top of the search results anyway – and Google will make sure of that.

Speed matters more than ever to SEO

Speed has long been a factor used by Google to assess the quality of your site. It’s just one part of their complicated algorithm, but it’s about to make more of an impact than ever. Here’s Andrew Smith from Click Consult again:

💡What is AMP?

‘Accelerated Mobile Pages’ are built on a stripped down HTML developed by Google and Twitter, to make pages on mobile load faster.

“It was officially announced that site speed was to be treated as a ranking factor back in 2010. This was before the appearance of ‘page speed report’ which was then Webmaster Tools. As Google approaches the introduction of the Mobile First Index – possibly before the end of the year – this should be on your radar.

“Once this happens, and a mobile version of a page is assessed for SERPs indexation, speed is going to be one of the paramount facets of good search visibility. Added to this Google’s decision to favour AMP pages (which will be indexed first and potentially receive preferential treatment in snippets) and you are looking at a need for speed that transcends industry, size and sector.”

Website optimisation is not one fix

To truly get a website performing at the optimum speed you’ll need collaboration between your front and back-end developers, content creators, and hosting provider. The results can be incredible. Speeding up your website needs to be a past time. It’s a complex and on-going journey with lots of elements. UKFast’s clients have reported 50% increase in sales just by investing in our Webcelerator technology, designed to intelligently cache content. That’s just one ingredient in your plan for a faster website.

Andrew Smith from Click Consult, on website optimisations, concludes:

“From image size to asynchronous script loading, migration to HTTP2 and AMP, there are big and small techniques with varying levels of necessary investment that can improve site speed. The important thing is that brands do as much as they can – even for incremental changes – rather than wait for an indeterminate period to make the big changes.”

As well as reducing the size of your website, there are dedicated technologies which can also play a huge role in the optimisation of your website. Just by using UKFast’s Webcelerator™, we’ve seen customers reduce load time by 70%.

Website optimisation – it’s your new hobby

As Andrew says, it’s the constant incremental changes which make the big difference. The race to remove friction and speed up your website is not a giant leap but lots of small steps.

For instance, on any list of basic website improvements you’ve probably ticked off ‘image compression’ already – but new, more efficient compression algorithms are always being worked on which could shave off additional kb. The introduction of new server-side technology like UKFast’s CDN could make international website performance faster, and that could mean a faster crawl speed for search engines as well as happier international customers.

As you may have guessed from the name, Team UKFast is obsessed with speeding things up. Why not give us a call now to see how we can help in your new hobby; creating a seemingly magic, frictionless experience for every one of your visitors.