Website Best Practice

Why Your School’s Webpage Load Time Could Be Costing You Enrolments

July 26, 2019

Is there anything more mind-numbingly painful than waiting for a webpage to load? Perhaps watching a video that’s struggling to buffer... Regardless, we can all agree on the fact that lagging technology really grinds our gears.

As a culture, we're driven by instant gratification and have developed a zero-tolerance policy on slow technology -- especially when it comes to webpage load times. In fact, 47 per cent of consumers expects a webpage to load in two seconds or less and four seconds for mobile users, though according to Google, most websites aren’t meeting this benchmark.

A slow webpage load time is a blind spot for many school websites and a key contributor to high bounce rates. Just check out the data below on how bounce rates increase depending on the speed of your webpage load time.

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Now that we’ve established that webpage load time is a big deal, let’s dive in deeper to understand what exactly webpage load time is, how you can measure yours, and what to do if you need to fix it.

What exactly is ‘webpage load time’?

Your webpage load time is the time it takes for a webpage to load from the moment a visitor lands on it. Relatively straightforward, but essential to the user experience. To check your webpage load time, jump onto Google’s PageSpeed Insights and plug in the URL of a webpage you want to review. We recommend starting with your homepage (as this is where your visitors land first) and then running your website’s most visited pages through the tool as well.

Once you’ve entered the URL, the tool will generate a load time score between 0-100 and provide you with some insights around your result. Here you'll be able to see how your webpage stacks up depending on whether it falls into the slow (0-49), moderate (50-89), or fast (90-100) category.

 

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Source: Google PageSpeed Insights

 

In a perfect world, your score would be sitting somewhere in the green zone, though you may find yourself in the orange or even the dreaded red zone. If your score is lower than you’d anticipated, don’t panic, we’ll share some ways to improve your webpage load speed a little later on.

Does it really matter if my webpage is a little slow?

YES. We said it before and we’ll say it again: the longer it takes for your webpage to load, the less likely it is a visitor will stay -- simple as that. Besides the fact that your slow webpage is deterring prospective parents from sticking around and learning more about your school, Google will punish you for it too.

Last year, Google released a speed algorithm update for mobile search that impacts search engine ranking for red zone webpages that deliver the slowest experience to users. Google claims the update will only impact the slowest of the slow but with 70 per cent of online searching being mobile, it's essential to ensure this isn’t you.

How can I fix my webpage load time?

There are a number of factors can cause slow webpage load times, but to get you started, here are three common culprits you can fix immediately.

Your images are too big

High-resolution images consume a lot of bandwidth and can take a while to process. Optimise your webpage images by keeping them under 100kb -- this will ensure they load quickly and cut down your webpage load time.

Stop hosting your own videos

Images take up a lot of bandwidth, but video takes up even more. If you’re including videos on your webpages, we recommend uploading them to a third-party platform like Vimeo or YouTube and imbedding them on your page via an iframe rather than taking up space on your server.

Your hosting plan isn’t cutting it

When it comes to your web hosting plan, cheaper isn’t necessarily better. It’s important to take stock of your current plan to see if it’s able to keep up with your needs and if it’s not, consider an upgrade. Here at Digistorm, we use load-balanced networks to ensure fast page load speeds across all of our school websites.

Summary

A decade ago, we would have expected webpages to be a bit clunky and slow to load, but times have drastically changed since then. Today, a slow webpage can damage your bottom line, cause prospective parents to drop off, and affect your overall search engine ranking. If in doubt, refer back to our first image -- every second you shave off your webpage load time means a lower bounce rate and higher visitor satisfaction.

Is your school website in need of a revamp? Digistorm’s expert team of in-house website designers and developers are here to guide you! Check out Digistorm's eduSITE to learn more or get in touch today.