So your web site's online and you've got high rankings in the search engines attracting lots of visitors. But the statistics tell you most of them are leaving after viewing just one page, what's gone wrong?
One possible cause could be a slow download speed of your web site's homepage or the web site as a whole. There is nothing worse than having to wait for a web site to load up. Studies indicate that the majority of visitors will only wait 3 - 5 seconds for a homepage to load up before clicking elsewhere. If your homepage doesn't load up in this time (from a standard internet connection) you are running the risk of losing lots of visitors before they've even read the content of the homepage.
They Won't Hang Around!
You should always assume that most visitors will be connecting to the Internet using standard equipment - not super-charged fast connections. The main culprits of slow download times for a homepage are images. Just remember - every part of every web page you view has to travel down the phone line and onto your screen - the larger the item the longer this will take to happen. It is for this reason that you will sometimes notice the text on a web page loads up on your screen before the images. This is because of the simple reason that images are larger in file size than text and therefore take longer to come down the phone line.
The more large images you have your homepage the slower it will be to download. Nobody is saying get rid of all images from a homepage - as with many things in life - they key to success is balance. Try not to sacrifice your web site's aesthetic for quicker download times but, at the same time, don't have large images or animations on the homepage, as these will take longer to download.
Does Your Homepage Need To Go On A Diet?
As a rule of thumb it is recommended that a homepage be around 40 - 50 Kilobytes in size. Any larger and will be a slow downloading homepage, any smaller and it will be quicker than average. One of the best ways to decrease download times is to reduce the number of images being used or optimise them by reducing the number of colours they use or cropping them slightly.
Other pages on your web site are less important than the homepage when it comes to download speed as by this point users will already have made the commitment to enter the main body of the web site and will therefore be willing to wait a little longer for the information they require.
Mike Cheney, www.magnet4web.com
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