Need for Speed: How to Win on Mobile

by Danielle Dean

Breaking: Studies show that 40% of all online shoppers will abandon a webpage if it doesn’t load within three seconds. With more than half of all Internet traffic coming from mobile devices, it’s important for marketers to make improving the speed of their mobile site a top priority this year.

Read time: 3 minutes, 25 seconds

With more than half of all Internet traffic now coming from mobile devices, marketers have essentially been forced to change their approach to website development and performance. Mobile users expect brands to provide a quick, seamless and frictionless online experience, and if these delicate parameters are not met, it can result in a loss of customers and sales. For e-commerce sites in particular, mobile site speed has a direct impact on revenue. When you consider that 30% of all e-commerce purchases now happen on a mobile device, you can imagine how much money is being left on the table by brands who haven’t taken steps to optimize their websites for mobile viewing.

Why Mobile Marketers Need to Pay Attention to Site Speed

Without question, speed is the most important factor to pay attention to when it comes to mobile site performance. Dozens of studies have shown that mobile users will quickly move on if a site takes too long to load – in fact, according to a study published by content delivery giant Akamai, 40% of all online shoppers will abandon a webpage if it doesn’t load within the first three seconds. When you think about the possibility that four out of every ten mobile visitors might pass your site up if it’s not loading fast enough, it only makes sense to make improving the speed of your mobile site a top priority. Below are five things you can do to boost the speed and responsiveness of your site, so that you can begin to win on mobile.

1. Swap out large images files with smaller, lower-resolution files. Heavy images are one of the worst offenders when it comes to slowing down page load times.

2. Put fewer images on your web pages, period. According to a study published by Google and SOASTA (a leading web analytics company), mobile pages with 38% fewer graphic elements (e.g., logos, favicons, product images, etc.) actually produced better conversions than pages that were more image-heavy.

3. Reduce the total number of page elements. It’s not uncommon for websites to feature hundreds of different page elements that are hosted on numerous separate servers, and many of these assets significantly drag down page load times. That same Google/SOASTA study also named the number of page elements as the top predictor of conversions. According to their research, there seems to be an inverse relationship between the number of page elements and conversion rates: leaner pages (i.e., pages with fewer elements) tend to garner a higher number of conversions, and vice versa.

4. Eliminate – or at least try to minimize – the use of redirects on your site. For the uninitiated, redirects are instructions sent to a web server to automatically transfer a visitor from one page to a different page on a website. These redirects take several milliseconds to execute, which can add up to a significant amount of time in terms of page loads. The problem is exacerbated on mobile devices, because data is being transferred over networks that are typically less reliable than what is used for desktops.

5. Run your site through Google’s Speed Scorecard to check its performance on mobile devices. This helpful web page also features an Impact Calculator tool that will show you how much more revenue you could potentially generate by improving your mobile site’s speed by a given number of seconds. The Speed Scorecard page also features Resizer and Device Metrics tools to help designers test various display sizes and optimize their pages across multiple devices.

Speed serves as a type of currency in the world of mobile marketing, and all signs seem to indicate that speed will remain a top priority for the foreseeable future. In fact, Wireless Design and Development recently pointed out the move that several major mobile carriers are making to completely retire 3G service in the near future. With faster network speeds becoming an inevitability, mobile website speed is a factor that you simply cannot afford to ignore. Use the tips outlined above to help you boost your site speed and retain your competitive edge in today’s mobile-first world.

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