In the second half of Made You Click, episode 12, Allison Gibbs, Director of Marketing Success at Mojo Media Labs and Sam McKinney, our Senior Front End Developer, discuss page speed for websites, and why you shouldn’t focus too hard on one particular measurement. In case you’re not sure, page speed is simply a way of measuring how fast the content on your web page loads. While often confused with “site speed,” Page speed is specific to a single page or group of pages, and it can be described in either “page load time” and “time to first byte.”
While page speed is obviously important for any business, Sam talks to Allison about why it shouldn’t be something to obsess about and instead, it should be one of many focuses in your website management and curation.
Solving Page Speed Concerns
If you work at a marketing or web development firm, there’s a good chance you’ve had clients calling you to make sure their page speed is at one hundred percent. In the second half of the podcast, Allison asks Sam to talk a little about navigating the world of page speed.
First things first: how can you accurately gauge the speed of your page? “I’ve used several different types of page speed crawlers and tests,” Sam says. “You get different types of numbers, and if you run it back to back, you can get different numbers. But the tool is still really important.”
“What you want to do is focus on what those tools recommend you do to fix your page speed,” he says. While page speed scores can be dangerous for businesses, it’s still important to determine what metrics really matter for your company and your website.
“The whole goal is to make the user’s journey easier,” he says. “They’re on the mobile phone, eating a cheeseburger, walking around the mall, whatever. They don’t have time to wait ten seconds for a website to load.”
Too Many Metrics!
There are a lot of terms out there within the page speed umbrella, which is one reason why page speed scores can be so misleading. Instead, Sam says you should focus on a key metric, like load time, rather than trying to improve your score.
“You want to get that load speed down as low as you can and use whatever tool is your preference and take whatever recommendations they have – adjust the markup, adjust the code, whatever it is – and try to get that load time down,” he says.
Fixing a Site the Right Way
Of those many things to fix, there are different things that various members of each marketing team can do. Allison asks Sam what things he sees most frequently that marketers can fix on their own without involving a web developer.
“The first thing is Google Tag Manager,” he says. “Most marketers have a complete army of tracking code on a website. Every time one of those scripts fires off, it has to do a complete reload.”
He’s referring to things like Hubspot, Google Analytics, and Facebook Pixel, which allows you to track extremely helpful data. What Google Tag Manager does, he explains, is to give a more efficient way for all those tags to function, improving performance and allowing marketers to add as many tracking codes as they want. These tracking tags are helpful, but they can slow down the website.
Allison recommends that anyone – no matter your role – check out the Google Tag Manager tutorials, free and easily accessible in Google’s interface. Things like this can help the whole team function.
Resize All Your Images
“Images are always a problem,” Sam says. “Usually they’re very large, and sometimes they’re the wrong format. You gotta understand which format to use.”
Huge file sizes and the various file types, like .jpg, .JPEG, and .png, are also a factor in your page speed, and as Allison notes, Sam is at least a little exasperated simply hearing the word “image” when it comes to page speed.
He explains that for most projects, you should use the .jpg format, because those files are easier to load, and .png files are better for transparent backgrounds, or when you need an image to be a certain size with a transparent background.
Additionally, as pretty as your high definition photography is, most people aren’t looking at them on screens with hundreds of thousands of megapixels; resizing your images can speed up your website exponentially.
For even more of Allison and Sam’s conversation, listen to the whole podcast, which features specific tips on speeding up your website. The important thing is that you don’t need to focus on page speed scores specifically. Instead, focus your efforts on the elements that you can fix. Contact us today if you’re looking for someone to help you with your website needs. We’d love to meet you.