There have been a lot of new entrants into the Social CRM market lately. With the amount of software we rely on in our industry, we’ve always got an eye on what’s next. We’re constantly trying new things because we can’t afford to miss out on technology that will make us better at what we do.
With the success of Salesforce, and the continued growth of social media, the CRM space is looking more attractive and we’re seeing people come up with a lot of innovative ideas. As we’ve been testing some of the new SaaS versions of this, there is one service that stands out as the most innovative. The only problem is, we’re seeing site speed issues with affect the way a user interacts with your web page.
Remember Friendster? Before Facebook dominated the profile-based social media space, there was Friendster. A good portion of people were on Friendster at first, but it had one downfall – it was slow. At certain times of the day, it would become downright unresponsive. Then came Myspace, which was nearly the exact same site, but fast and responsive (not responsive like responsive web design, responsive like you clicked a link and it worked). Well, people started telling their friends about Myspace, and most people made a profile there too.
After a while, no one spent any time on Friendster, and now who knows what even happened to them? Now, Myspace had their own issues that caused them to lose its target audience and to be dethroned by Facebook, but that’s not the point of this article. First and foremost, user experience is your number one priority on the web and one of the big players in the user experience game is response time. So, what are the signs and how do you stay in control?
Why You Should Improve Your Site Speed
In the example above, Friendster began losing people because their site wasn’t responsive. Here are a couple of performance indicators you can use to track site performance as your site speed changes.
Users who experience slow load times are quick to hit the return button or switch to a site with similar information. In theory, faster load times help reduce your bounce rate but the fastest load time in the world won’t help you if you don’t have good content.
Conversions are made more frequently when sites move with ease. Customers who can get what they are looking for at optimum speeds do so. When sites are slow, people get impatient, quickly talking themselves out of the purchase or next action step, and they’re gone.
Word of Mouth
While you may not get a lot of positive word of mouth marketing from a super-fast site, you will get a lot of negative word of mouth from page errors and slow loading sites. These users will likely suggest the company or website competitor to which they found more enjoyable to use.
Mobile users expect sites to load in three seconds or less and few will stick around for longer than five seconds. Not only that, mobile users get annoyed when your site doesn’t work well on their phone or tablet, which is why we’re telling all of our clients to make their website responsive to desktop, tablet, and mobile screen sizes.
Search engines (Google, specifically) take into consideration the speed of your pages. When site speed drops your ranking drops along with it. The thought behind this is — if Google ranked a bunch of slow sites high in their search, the people of the world would naturally use Google a bit less and move onto a search engine that values their time. They’ve got to look out for themselves.
The opposite is true too. The faster your site speed, the faster you can inch your way to the top of the search results. Of course, there are a ton of other search engine optimization ranking factors that can affect this, and site speed is only one piece of the puzzle.
Adwords and PPC
Not surprisingly Google uses similar ranking factors for its PPC customers. Sure, it’s an auction system but they want it to be relevant too and they want to make sure people are happy when they click on their ads, so they click on more of them! So a good way to lower your PPC cost is to focus on other factors. PPC Cost is determined by competition level and page quality. Greater speed = greater quality. Great quality = lower cost (per click).
A Ton of Ideas to Improve Your Site Speed
We’ve found that a lot of business owners have a hard time justifying the time and expense of increasing their site speed, and from some small businesses that don’t rely on websites, it might not make a lot of sense. We get it, it’s hard to justify the cost of something you can’t hold in your hand, but increasing your site speed will be a big payoff for businesses that rely on their website as a sales tool and integral part of the marketing program.
Testing Your Website
There are a lot of tools available on the web that can help you review how your site is performing for your site visitors. Tools like Pingdom site speed test can help you get an idea of how fast it’s loading and what elements on the site are taking the most time. Google PageSpeed Insights is another resource that can make suggestions on improving site speed. Testing can give you a good starting place but generally increasing your site speed is pretty simple. It’s going to be in one of a few areas.
Use Less Bandwidth by Lowering Your File Size
You can optimize your images and pages for speed by optimizing their size. While there is great value in crisp, high-resolution images – a lot of photos that are larger in size can eventually take a toll on your site, bogging down the speed. There is a diminishing return on the resolution of a photo so the trick is to find the balance between visibility and efficiency. This is even harder today with responsive web design and photos resizing as you resize your browser window.
Clean Up Your Code
Most people who aren’t in the industry don’t understand the difference clean code can have on your site speed. They think code is code and this is just not the case. Messy code and runaway scripts can be a serious drag on your site speed, so you’ll want to make sure your pages are neat and tidy on the inside too.
Increase the efficiency of your servers
Remember the last time you got a new computer, and you were blown away at how fast it started up? Well, websites are programs that are running on remote computers. If you want your site to load faster, you’re going to want to do a couple of things. The first is to configure the server properly for the software you are running.
If you are running WordPress, you’ll want to turn off any services that aren’t needed to serve your site efficiently. Second, you’ll want to make sure you have enough processing power and memory available to handle the traffic load on your server.
Depending on your host, your DNS may be located on the same server, or with your domain registrar, or externally with a managed DNS like DYN.com. Because the browser relies on the DNS system to translate what you enter into IP addresses, the response time of your DNS will have an effect on how fast your page loads.
You know all about bandwidth, right? The internet is just a lot of hoses passing information around. You’re limited by two things, the size of the hose and how long it has to travel. If you’re on shared hosting, you’re sharing your hose with all the other sites on your server. You’re also sharing the hose with all the other servers in your data center.
Finally, you’re limited by where your data center is. If your website lives in New York, it may load at different speeds in California and Florida. But then again, it may not! The internet is funny like that. You can check the weather on the internet here.
It’s All About Managing Interactions With Your Brand
As with any interaction with your brand, your customer should really enjoy visiting your website and find no user interface issues. In the end, they should be so enthralled with the content on it, that they forget to notice how it works. If it gets to the point where somebody is thinking “this site is slow” then they’re not going to care how cool your content is.
People are pretty forgiving, so as long as the website speed problem doesn’t remain consistent, you typically won’t lose them over a few hiccups. Remember, the coolest video in the world won’t help you at all if people won’t hang around while your site loads it for them to watch.
Back to the social CRM sites. As we said, there is one site we are currently testing, that has the best feature set for staying in touch with your customers. We don’t want to name this site, but it currently makes a great example for this case study. For almost a year now the site has been running slow and has a lot of errors. They’re even introducing new features before they are ready.
If it worked all the time this site would be the best site out there for what it does, but it’s speed issues are opening it up to have its users taken away from it. Any one of their competitors could develop similar functionality and start to pull away users. As we’ve established, speed is important for a website but it is even more important to salespeople who need to be “on it” 7 days a week.
- Build your site with the minimal possible features that you can to optimize your website for speed and user experience.
- Make sure those features are functioning beyond amazing before you introduce any new features to the design process.
- Periodically test your site speed to make sure it is still performing. If not, take action.
- A good idea is nothing without good execution. It’s ok to have speed bumps, but too many bumps on your road, and people may choose to take a different route.
- Successful UX and UI design will deliver your users a good experience with your website as well as deliver your business objectives.