Everyone wants a web design that is attractive and has reliable functionally and custom features that improve a visitors experience. But there’s nothing more deterring to a website visitor than a slow-loading site. And Google has also been telling us for quite some time that a slow loading website is something you can no longer ignore.
Let’s take a look at Google’s gentle nudges over the last decade:
Way Back in 2009
In June of 2009, Google released a “Let’s make the web faster” initiative, which sought to realize co-founder Larry Page’s vision of “browsing the web as fast as turning the pages of a magazine.”
“Let’s make the web faster” video posted on June 22, 2009 (via YouTube)
Google made several promises, but they also stressed that better speed wasn’t something they could achieve on its’ own. Later, on the same day, a post called “Speed Matters” on the Google AI blog contained a similar message:
Because the cost of slower performance increases over time and persists, we encourage site designers to think twice about adding a feature that hurts performance if the benefit of the feature is unproven.
Google’s benchmark reinforced that as load times increases, the likelihood of bounce increases a great deal (via Think with Google).
It’s to understand how some web design features and increased functionality can actually be detrimental to a website’s speed. Your company will probably have to make some sacrifices and changes in order to create a website that works for both your company and your visitors.
The message from Google remains the same as it was in 2009. Speed matters. In the report Google was now warning that “consumers are more demanding than ever before. And marketers who are able to deliver fast, frictionless experiences will reap the benefits.”
Not So Long Ago in 2018
Google circled back around to the conversation and with a new 2018 industry benchmark report citing “Today it’s critical that marketers design fast web experiences across all industry sectors.”
The first version of the benchmark report found that the average mobile landing page took 22 seconds to load. This average speed was reduced to 15.3 seconds in 2018, which is better but not great.
Google’s nudges are loud and clear. They have reinforced their vision for the future by releasing tools and metrics like PageSpeed Insights, Lighthouse, “Test My Site,” the Speed Scorecard, Impact Calculator, and Mobile Speed Score to help developers prepare.
What it Means For 2019
Remember, Google’s gentle nudges tend to become mandatory given enough time. Google’s previous mentions about responsive websites or web security both materialized into concrete changes to their browser and search engine that forced marketers to prioritize.
For instance, in 2016, a non-ecommerce websites could have a SSL certification on a “to do at some point” list because Google promised a small boost in search rankings to encrypted websites. Nice, to have, but it wasn’t critical. In 2018, Google Chrome began flagging non-HTTPS sites as “Not Secure.”
Sprint Ahead of Your Competition
Even if Google weren’t forcing our hands, it’s hard to imagine a business that wouldn’t benefit from ensuring their website loads quickly. The web will speed up and slim down, and those who don’t match the new paradigm will be left behind.