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The Importance of Lightweight Pages

One day, you innocently click on a link to a website that turns out to be slow or broken. Time slows down. Your smartphone is troubled and overwhelmed…you grow impatient and your finger gets twitchy over the back button.

A website’s load time is important to a visitor’s experience. There are many factors to consider when designing and developing a website, but even small increments in page speed can have big results. Google has made it clear that page speed is one of the factors involved with search results ranking.

Creating a website is a balancing act and keeping the page load time down is an ongoing process. When the time to load a page can be improved without compromising other factors, it is always worth doing.

So what is page weight?

Websites contain files of software, pictures, fonts, and other assets that allow the full display of a web page. The weight of these assets is measured in the number of bits.

The movie page on Skipping Scenes is far more interesting and effective to see all the cover art, than just a listing of movie names. But a design like this gets heavy quickly with each graphic taking up download time.

The following table lists this web page both before and after image optimization. In addition, for better understanding of relative speeds, let’s use an example of a connection that transfers 10 pounds in 1 second.

PageSizeSpeed
CBefore optimization2.2 megabytes6.3 seconds
DAfter optimization1.2 megabytes3.7 seconds

The first version of this movie listing had a overall weight of 2.2 MB. The download time would be 6.3 seconds, which is noticeable. But when the images were optimized, it weighed 75 lbs, taking 3.7 seconds.

Skipping Scenes benefited greatly from image optimization, going from 6.3 seconds to 3.7 seconds. There was very little visual difference between the version with the optimized images versus original and the quicker download time is more bearable for visitors.

When a page takes a long time to load, visitors will often abandon the page they are trying to visit, either because they are tired of waiting, or believe something is wrong with the website. Image optimization is an easy way to bring down the weight and make for happier visitors to your website.

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