It’s 2019 and the world is moving more into digital space. More and more people are connecting to the Internet, companies, and small and medium business are moving their services and products online in the hopes of getting more millennials, the current largest consumer market, to avail of their services or buy their products.

Photo taken by Buro Milennial from Pexels

Have you ever been scrolling through Facebook and saw a link to an article you found interesting? You click the link and it redirects you to a website but all you see is a blank white screen. We’ve all experienced it, and it’s one of the most annoying things for millennials: a website with a really slow web loading speed.

For millennials, instant gratification can be both an advantage and a curse. If we need something, it’s just a few taps or clicks away and we have the information we want. The downside is that if an app of a website is slow, everything seems to slow down with it.

Slow loading websites, in particular, are a pain. So why don’t we fix that?

If you have a slow loading website and want to speed it up, then you have to know how slow your site really is. If you don’t know what your website loading speed is, you won’t know how fast it needs to be right?

To fully understand the importance of web speed, you need to get a little familiar with website analytics, specifically “Bounce Rate”. Bounce Rate is the percentage of your visitors who leave a web page right away after spending just a few seconds on the page. A higher percentage is worse. It means that there are more visitors on your site that leave right away. A lower percentage, however, means that your visitors continue to browse your website.

A high bounce rate means that people don’t stick around your site long enough to do anything else except leave. Web loading speed is a big contributor to bounce rate. To put it simply, if your website is taking too long to load, millennials are going to leave right away. So make sure to keep your bounce rate low.

Now that we understand that having a fast web load speed is critical and how it affects your website performance; how then are you going to get that less than 4 seconds to load speed?

  1. The Speed Test

First things first, you need to conduct a website speed loading test. It’s the first step to know whether or not your website is performing the way it should. This is the only way to know how fast or slow your website is. A website that loads for longer than 4 seconds can lose a lot of traffic so speed it up.

There are numerous tools you can use to test your website loading speed. One of the more well-known tools is Google PageSpeed Insights. It’s totally free and it shows your web page load speed and it identifies and makes suggestions on what you can do to speed it up. There are some guides and videos on the net that can help you improve your website speed load time.

I’m sure you’ve heard the line “you get what you pay for”. In the realm of website loading speed that means one thing: Did you pay for a cheap or expensive web hosting service? One of the main culprits of slow loading times is how good is your web hosting type is.

There are three web hosting types you need to get familiar with

  •  Shared Hosting – This is the most basic type of web hosting available. Shared hosting is when your website shares a server with hundreds and maybe even thousands of other sites sharing the same pool of resources. It’s the slowest of the options but also the cheapest.
  • Virtual Private Server –  A private server is much faster than a shared hosting service. It’s still not as fast as having a dedicated server for your website. If you decide to use a virtual private server, you need to know the basics of server properties. The main difference of a shared hosting and a virtual private server is that with a virtual private server, each website is allocated a certain number of dedicated resources to use. Your website doesn’t share the same pool of resources with the other sites of the server.
  • Dedicated Server Hosting – Having a dedicated server is paid by subscription and is the fastest and most secure web hosting type. It means that your website does not share any resources with anyone. Your site can handle a large amount of traffic and can customize how the server runs to your heart’s desire. The downside, however, is that it is very expensive to run a dedicated server.

You don’t need to be an expert to know that if you pay for a cheap web hosting type you’ll have fewer resources for your website to use to speed up its website load speed. So you should consider subscribing to a better web hosting service then test website load speed again to see the difference.

2. Big Images and Videos are not Always the Best Idea

Millennials love visuals, just look at Instagram and Youtube and how popular a single picture or a short video can be. Having beautiful pictures and videos can sure help you grab the visitors attention, but having multiple large images and long videos on your website can significantly slow down your web load speed. One of the simplest ways to optimize your images and videos is when uploading them you change the original file name. A complicated file name takes much longer to load than a simple one. Always consider simplicity over aesthetics when optimizing your images and videos.

The best thing you can do is to compress large files so that they can load faster. If you have a 30MB video and a 5MB image file and you upload that directly to your site, that’s 35MB worth of loading time lost. And that’s only 2 different files. Your website is bound to have more than just 2 so you need to optimize all your images and videos to decrease your web load speed time. If it is really necessary for your site to have a large number images and videos then make sure all of them are optimized and compressed as small as possible. So make your files as small as possible and see the difference.

3. Optimize Your Landing Page

Your landing page is the first page millennials will see when you type in your URL. It’s the first page to load so its best to optimize your landing page as much as possible. One way to do this is to clean it up and make it lean and optimize. Imagine Usain Bolt, he’s the fastest man alive and he’s not even slightly bulky.

Your landing page should be the same. Avoid any bulky and large content to speed up your website loading speed. Propelrr has a step by step guide on how you can optimize your page in 2 seconds. By optimizing your landing page you can increase your chances of retaining your website visitors interest. Millennials hate slow websites, so make sure your landing page is optimize as much as possible.

4. The Wonders of Website Caching

If you are really serious about speeding up your web load speed, then invest in website caching. It helps in making your website load faster since it creates a “static” copy of your site that can be quickly shown to visitors. This helps speed up your website by loading and showing the content to your visitor much faster. This is specifically important for millennials where the faster your website can load the less likely they will leave your site and move on to another one.

Here are some good examples of web caching plugins:

  • WP Rocket – Currently the most used premium web caching plug-in.
  • WP Caching – Over one million active installations and it’s a free tool.
  • W3 Total Caching- Another caching plugin with over a million installations.

The most important part is to do your research. Each has their own pros and cons so know which of the plugins would work best for your website and what it needs and if it fits your budget.

5. Minify Your Back End Code

One of the most obvious ways to shorten website loading speed is to simplify and lessen and your code. Which type of type of coding language you’re asking? All of them. Whether you use JavaScript, HTML, or CSS minifying the code of your website should always be a priority. When you minify your code it makes your website load more efficiently since it doesn’t need to load anything unnecessary.

Minifying means unnecessary elements in your back end coding. These can be as common such as spaces and comments that make it easy to identify parts of your code. It’s the same concept as to why you need to compress your images and videos. The larger the size, the longer it takes to load.

6. Custom Fonts, They’re Beautiful but Slow

There is a serious market for good fonts. Millennials crave and appreciate creativity and personal individualism so the most obvious thing to do for web developers to do to inject that creativity is using custom fonts. The problem is some fonts are not optimized, this can lead to your website performing slower for your visitors.

There are two ways you can fix your load speed from being bogged down by fonts: One is that you use only optimized fonts or you can retain your custom fonts and optimize them yourself.

7.  Participate in the Purge of Your Database

Photo taken by Panumas Nikhomkhai from Pexels

Your website keeps a lot of information on its database, it can be logs, user data, statistics and more. If you don’t clean it up, it will slow you down. Having these types of data taking up space and slowing down your website load speed. If you want to keep millennials around your site long enough to not count as an increase in bounce rate then you need to purge your site database from time to time.

Manually doing a database clean up could take up hours of your time which could have been spent creating amazing content for your site or enhancing other areas of the overall user experience for your site visitors.

But there are available tools for this sort of manual work, a cleaner for your database if you will. OpenRefine is an excellent tool for the job it helps you sort out and filter large amounts of raw data that could be confusing and time consuming to check and go through. It was formerly called Google Refine.

8. Millennials are Obsessed with Smartphones

Photo taken by Free-Photos from Pixabay

What does this mean for web developers? It means you need to make your website as mobile friendly as possible. Millennials will likely look at your website through their phones more than a desktop or laptop so keep that in mind.

If your websites web load speed is quicker on a desktop but painfully slow on mobile, chances are they won’t be sticking around your mobile site for long. So optimizing your website and its content for mobile should be a priority to get more millennials to view your content.

Focusing on the overall user experience on mobile should be your top priority. The screen of all smartphones are much smaller than desktops and laptops. Optimizing the size of the fonts for easy readability; easy and effortless navigation to prevent multiple redirects and going back to previous pages; mobile-optimized content viewing; and proper usage of images and videos are just some of the examples of things you can do to enhance your overall mobile user experience.

This doesn’t just apply to millennials, it applies to all your visitors of your mobile site.

9. We Are All Connected

Constant site updates are essential in keeping millennials from hating your website. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter stay relevant largely because of this factor. Keeping your website updated on the latest news and good content should be a no brainer.

Social media has an effect on millennials. It shows that your site makes it a priority to stay updated on the most relevant happenings in your space. It makes your site more real and organic and that’s always a plus for millennials. But be sure that your site is ready for a constant flow of engagement or else it might slow down your website loading speed

10. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter- You Need Them All

You could call social media the lifeblood of most millennials. They go through every day looking for the latest updates and trends. If your website doesn’t have a social media presence then you missing a key part of the solution to the millennial equation.

Keeping your social media presence alive and updated makes you more visible. You should also make it a point to respond to comments and inquiries for your site. Being responsive and engaging to your visitors will go a long way in making them come back to your site.

11. Applying Minimalism to Your Content

There is a time and place to have long content. But most millennials won’t stay long enough to read through 3000 words on an article where they only need the essential information on the subject. They’re always moving and jumping from one thing to the next.

Having short, concise and most importantly good content is key to keep millennials coming back to your site. There’s another plus for applying minimalism, by having short content it cuts the resources your website needs to load. It helps speed up your website loading speed as well.

12. Be Real

Millennials hate being scammed, but then again, who appreciates being scammed to begin with? Be direct with who you are and what you’re planning on offering to millennials in the first few seconds of them opening your site. Selling them a product or service that had nothing to do with the reason they went to your site, to begin with, is one of the fastest ways to irk and disappoint millennials.

13. Creativity is Very Important

Yes, it may contradict adding custom fonts or big images and videos but there is a way to add creativity to your website that will make millennials love it like: using minimal design but having a good contrast of colors; seamless transition from page to page are but some of the ways to add creativity to your site without bogging it down and slowing your web load speed.

This time around it’s not just about how much keywords you can place on your site and content to make it more visible to SERP’s. Millennials especially take into account how seamless your sites user experience is. Remember that the user experience is more vital for millennials than the variety of your content. So keep that in mind and you’ll have engaging and lively visitors to your site in no time.

By Chakraborty

Dr Chakrabarty is the Chief Innovation Officer of IntuiComp TeraScience. Earlier she was Assistant Professor of Delhi University, a QS ranked university in India. Before that she has held research positions in IIT Mumbai, IIT Chennai and IISc Bangalore. She holds 2 patents and over 20 research publications in her name which are highly cited. Her area of research is in smart technologies, integrated devices and communications. She also has a penchant for blogging and is an editor of Business Fundas.