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5 Tips to Improve the Page Speed Score of your Law Firm’s Website

by | Jan 2, 2018 | Search Engine Optimization, Web Development

Why Page Speed Matters

Page Speed — the amount of time it takes a web browser to load pages on your website — is becoming increasingly important to users.  In a recent study, Google discovered that 53% of mobile users abandon sites that take longer than 3 seconds to load.  Let that sink in for a minute.  If your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, you could be losing OVER HALF of your mobile visitors.  To make matters worse, if you advertise with Google Adwords, slow page speeds can negatively impact your ads’ quality scores causing you to pay higher cost per click.

No one sets out to create a slow website.  But often, web design companies are more concerned about flashy and cool design elements than they are with website load times.  And rightly so — if you are spending thousands of dollars to build a web presence for your law firm, you want it to look nice.  Unfortunately, the things that make your site look nice often drag down your site performance and could ultimately cause your site visitors to leave.

 

How do I measure my site’s Page Speed?

Google offers several tools that will help you measure your site’s load times.  The Google Page Speed tool is a great place to start.  If you’d like a more in depth report that is specific to mobile users, try the ThinkWithGoogle mobile speed test.  Finally, for more advanced users, try the Lighthouse plugin for Chrome.

 

My site is slow — what do I do?

Following is a list of tips we’ve compiled after working on hundreds of websites over the past 10 years.  By keeping these tips in mind, you should be able to balance your site’s appearance with its performance.

 

1. Remove the Fluff

Make a list of all the interactive elements on your site.  Do you have video?  A chat bot?  Does your site design rely on lots of images?  Every element that your site has to load slows down your load time.  It’s fine to use these elements on your site, but consider putting them on pages where users would expect them.  Your “Contact Us” page probably does need a Chat Bot, but does it need video too?

2. Optimize and Resize

The iPhone X has a 12 megapixel camera, allowing you to print 16 x 24 inch photos at 300 dpi.  This resolutions is over 10 times the size needed for web images.  So when you are adding photos to your website, you must optimize and resize these images to ensure quick load times.  Using a tool like Photoshop, first shrink your images to the maximum size needed on your website (usually no more than 300 x 200 pixels).  After you have resized the image, use the “export” tool to optimize the image for the web.  You can adjust the resolution and file format to create a small file that still looks good.

3. Minify and Inline your CSS

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) are the set of rules the browser uses to render the colors, fonts and layout of your website.  CSS code is often stored in an external file and loaded into the page. Using external CSS files allows you to quickly make changes to your sites design.  However, external sheets also add to your page load time.  If you rarely change your site design, you should consider converting your external CSS to inline CSS.  Inline CSS is placed directly in your site’s head code and will eliminate the need for your browser to load an external file, thus reducing your page’s load time.  If you decide to make your CSS code inline, consider using a CSS Minification tool (like CSS Minifier) to strip out unnecessary tabs and spaces.  Minifying your CSS will further reduce the number of bytes needed to load your page.

4. Async your Javascript

Many sites use javascript libraries such as Jquery to create cool interactive effects like dropdown menus, sliders and modal windows.  These libraries are usually hosted on content delivery networks (CDNs) and are loaded externally.  However, when including these files in site code, many designers forget to make them load asynchronously.  By adding a simple “async” tag to the <script> element, you can tell the browser to wait to load these javascript files until the rest of the page has loaded.  This simple addition to your code can shave several seconds from your load time.

5. Cache It

When you visit a website, your browser stores some of the site elements on your local computer in order to improve load times.  You can control how long these files are stored by using “cache control” directives.  These caching instructions are usually stored in your site’s “.htaccess” file.  By setting the max age of your cached control to several days, you can ensure that browsers will not have to re-download files that rarely change, thus increasing your page speed.

Where else can I get help with Page Speed?

If you address these 5 areas, your site speed should improve. However, if you still need help there are many resources available.  The Google Developers site has many great tips and tools.  You can also Contact Us and we’ll be happy to review your site and offer suggestions.

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