There used to be an 'eight second rule' that predicted how long users would wait for a web page to load before abandoning their efforts and heading off into the sunset.
But this has since come down, with Jakob Nielsen telling E-consultancy recently that the reality is now closer to one second.
With increased connection speeds, users expect pages to load almost instantly and many will hit the back button if they feel they are being kept waiting.
A slow loading site is a sure fire way to annoy customers and prompt them to seek out a competitor that can deliver the goods.
Here are a few tips, then, for speeding up your website:
Remove unnecessary Flash elements
Flash can have its uses, such a presentation of rich content, but can also quite often be extremely annoying for users. It is one element that can slow up page loading times - Next's website being one example.
It can be slow even on fast connections and a killer for users on slower ones. And there are plenty of other reasons to avoid Flash, including lack of search engine appeal and inaccessibility.
Use CSS instead of tables
Tables can be useful for displaying data in columns and rows but are less efficient for web pages.
CSS requires less code than tables and allows you to select the order in which items download onto the page. It speeds up the pageload process as the browser can cache all the formatting and won’t have to read it again and again.
Keep HTTP requests to a minimum
If you have several elements of your web pages loading up from other websites, such as ads, images, audio or video, then this will slow up the total load time.
Reducing the number of these types of components on a webpage will reduce the number of HTTP requests and make for a faster loading page.
This is a good way of losing a few kilobytes from your website and reducing the overall load time - compressing images can reduce the file size by 50% or more.
Avoid heavy, slow-loading ads
Ads are delivered via third party servers and each request for an ad to load can slow down the overall page load time.
It's best to keep ads to a minimum, especially on e-commerce sites, and avoid overly heavy ones. The best solution would be for the content and navigation to load before the ads - something the Daily Mail website does.