Oh no, we’re all building slow, bloated sites again.

Not only is it killing user experience, but Google is punishing you for it.

There was a time when building a web application or website meant we paid attention to the assets the user was going to have to download. We were all aware of, and nervous about, our users’ bandwidth, type of computer, etc.

And then everyone got broadband and all those problems went away. Right?

It can be easy to let details slip - optimizing all of your images, for example. Or loading giant chunks of CSS on a site which then aren’t actually used. But in the business world, where 1/100ths of a second can mean the difference between a new customer and cart abandonment due to frustration over slow loading on an e-commerce site, being detailed-oriented is vital for your business’s bottom line.

We’ve heard the statistics. The BBC recently found that sites can lose 10% of visitors for every one second of load time, and Google will prioritize fast-loading sites over slow sites every time. Research shows 79% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with website performance are less likely to buy from the same site again.

So, we know improving website performance matters. But do we have a plan in place for checking performance metrics, determining issues, and implementing updates? Website development and maintenance often falls under the responsibility of development and marketing teams. Do you feel confident that both teams are working together to manage the best website possible?

Communication is Key

When it comes to maintaining certain business technologies, the responsibility gap between IT and Marketing is growing increasingly more narrow. The company website is high on this list of technology and tools which straddle departmental lines, and, as a result, clear communication from both sides regarding task ownership is vital for building and maintaining a top-performing website.

Before starting a website performance overhaul, key players from both teams should meet to establish a plan of action - team responsibilities, strategy, budget allocation, etc. This meeting and its outcomes can look different for every company, but the point is to develop actionable tasks and goals together - ensuring everyone involved knows their role and is accountable moving forward.

We’ve seen typical website performance upkeep handled like this:


  • Budget for website hosting, content management systems, content creation, and front-end or SEO monitoring tools, such as SEMRush.

  • Image and content optimization


  • Regularly auditing resources used for redundancies and speed traps

  • Strategic code maintenance

  • Understanding and optimizing data sent to users

From here, let’s focus specifically on the technical side of improving website performance.

How Do You Find out What’s Slowing Down Your Site?

Implementing a discovery process to audit your current site will give you insight into exactly which areas of the site to focus on for performance and speed improvement.

For the discovery process, we like to start by making a list of everything which touches the website - from the host, server, and content management system, to the tools integrated with the site itself - and systematically go through each part of the setup, taking note of findings and determining areas for improvement or change.

Part of the discovery process should be running performance tests to discover just how your site is loading. This will provide an initial benchmark for informing improvements made in the future.

There are a number of great tools out there for gauging website performance, but Google Lighthouse is our favorite. This open-source tool is easy to use, and the reports generated give you a number of specifics for actionable follow-up. It can run in Chrome as a browser plugin and as a command-line tool.

Here is a Lighthouse review we ran on CNN.com:

Lighthouse Report Example

The generated report focuses on 5 audit areas:

  • Performance

  • Progressive Web App

  • Accessibility

  • Best Practices

  • SEO

Here, we see CNN.com is scoring a 3 out of 100 in Performance. The first contentful paint, when the browser first renders content from the DOM, takes almost 7 seconds. Digging into the  report a little deeper, we see that the site devotes 15 seconds to loading images and resources that aren’t even visible on the page yet. Remember every extra second of load time results in a 10% lost in visitors. lmagine running this site and knowing that you are losing users simply because your site is so bloated that users abandon it before it even loads!

What to do With Your Audit Findings

Once you’ve audited your site and discovered where performance issues exist, the next step is to determine which strategies and tools to use to improve website speed. There are many paths which lead to the same destination. Figuring out which course to take could include a process of trial and error. Here are a few recommendations to get you started.

  • Hosting

    • While shared hosting is a reliable and affordable option for many business sites, it is important to remember that shared servers cannot offer as many speed enhancing tools as a dedicated server. If your site is much larger and sees substantial traffic, a dedicated server may be the answer.  

  • Caching

    • Most website developers understand the importance of caching as a means to more quickly load web pages, but do their counterparts on the marketing team? Developer and marketing teams should work together to determine their own set of best practices regarding server caching, implementing a caching plugin on your content management system, and clearing the cache.

  • Content Delivery Networks

    • Implementing a content delivery network (CDN) speeds up website loading times by allowing users to access pages via servers which are geographically closer to them. A CDN is not required to provide a high-performing website. Consider implementation if your site has global visitors or regular heavy traffic.

  • Update CMS to most recent version

    • Are you still ignoring the notification you receive every time you log into your site’s content management system (CMS) to install updates or new versions of the software? Stop! Upgrading to the newest software version is a simple way to improve website performance.

  • AMP Pages

    • Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP Pages) can cut load time by up to 85%. This translates to better user experience and engagement.  Today’s versions of most CMS Systems include AMP modules for simple AMP compliance.

These recommendations are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to potential options for increasing web performance. Once you and your team find what works best for you, the last step is to develop a regular audit and maintenance cadence. Improving website performance is not a one-time project. Similar to improving SEO, maintaining and improving website load speed is something which needs regular monitoring and upkeep.

Making a commitment to improving web performance can feel like a daunting task, especially when developers are often already working on new projects. It can be difficult to ask them to revisit old work rather than looking toward the future. Here at Caxy, we’ve been helping businesses improve their website loading speeds using this methodology for years, and we are constantly on the lookout for the latest in performance improvement trends and tools. If improving performance is an initiative for your business this year, but you’re unsure where to start, contact us, and entrust our expertise to get you up to speed.

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