Good Web Marketing Means Testing Your Mobile Site Speed

More than half of all web traffic is now generated on mobile devices, still metrics show that mobile conversion rates are yet to surpass those of desktop machines. Where is this gap coming from? Partially utility (some users prefer to shop on larger screens) and partially from mobile loading times, which are still lagging.

For digital marketers who take themselves seriously today, mobile site speed and optimisation is yet another skill they need to add to their ever-growing portfolio of trades. If you think this is rather a task for developers that you need not concern yourself with, you’re very wrong. Just like SEO, keyword research and UX are a part of an optimal site experience today, so is ensuring that pages load fast, even on a 3G connection.

Test your site first

You can’t optimise something you can’t measure, right? Luckily, Google’s tools make it easy to estimate your mobile loading speed right now; they also test how your site performs on a 3G connection, which is still the predominant way of accessing websites on mobile devices. They even provide you with a quick analysis on things you can fix, for free.

Optimal mobile loading speed

Did you know that if your mobile loading site speed is higher than 3 seconds, you’re already too slow? Yet, most corporate websites today take anywhere from 7 to 11 seconds each to display all content to users! Perhaps the most telling metric of a mobile site’s success and performance, speed today translates into purchases on commerce websites, and into interactions and lead generation on non-commercial platforms. So, in simple terms:

mobile speed = dolla bills, y’all

Somehow and this continues to baffle me, mobile speed as a metric is still often overlooked and perhaps misunderstood by many. So what exactly drives loading speeds?

Number of content Items to load

On average, across industries the average number of individual content items that need to be loaded onto a page varies between 80 – 140, when the optimal number should be under 50, to keep loading time low. The UX or graphical designer on your project might not be aware of this – thus, it’s your job to point it out. Similarly, the web programmer executing the wireframes of the ignorant UX designer won’t always think about challenging an already developed concept – and this is where the nagging, know-it-all digital marketer (you, girl/boy!) steps in and makes sure everyone is in line.

Average page weight

Again, across industries the weight of most pages ranges from over 1 MB to 2 MB or more, when the recommendation for optimal loading speeds is just under 500 KB. Compressing image size is among the steps you can take to keep this one low.

Average time to first byte

Among the best mobile web practices is also keeping this metric low, or under 1.3 seconds, preferrably: it basically stands for how fast and responsive a web server is. Although, as a marketer you might not be able to heavily influence this one, making your development team aware and keeping them accountable is a step in the right direction.

Things to fix

Let’s say you have now determined that your mobile site sucks (don’t feel too bad as you’re not alone) and you’re determined to fix it. Depending on your particular situation, there would be a number of things you can optimise, including but not limited to:

  1. Optimise images: reduce in size, resolution, or compress
  2. Prioritise visible content
  3. Avoid landing page redirects
  4. Leverage browser caching for cacheable resources
  5. Enable compression of files
  6. Minify Javascript, HTML and CSS
  7. Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS
  8. Reduce server response time

Hopefully this article gives you some ammunition for your next sprint, where you can impress your dev team with your stellar mobile site optimisation insights. If they need more info, simply send them to Google’s mobile web dev resource centre so they can get their code pimped, err, optimised.

Get in touch if you have questions.

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