With the onset of the internet taking the marketing world by storm, websites are becoming increasingly competitive. As a result, there is a high demand for Web developers like those at Smarter Digital Marketing, for example, who can enhance a brand’s digital presence in Google’s eyes.

But how exactly is this done, and are digital marketers the answer to online companies struggling with SEO? Well, let us provide you with the answer. You can broaden and improve your online footprint by optimizing web design and page speed. 

However, it isn’t easy to do so. With many websites clogging search engines, it has become quite challenging for web designers and developers to make their sites more impactful. From page speed to layouts, everything matters. It’s all correlated.

Many businesses neglect to optimise their site’s speed as they fail to see this interconnection. They work on SEO by proxy, but page speed optimisation and practical design are often underestimated. As a result, they fail to adapt to the digital world successfully. If you are amongst those people facing such issues, then don’t worry. You have come to the right place.

We have compiled a thorough guide on making your site fast through tweaking the page speed as well as design. When it comes to page speed vs. web design we also hope to answer how to do both right in this article laying the complete roadmap from basic to advanced features that you can easily understand. So read along to find what your website has been missing for a long time:

What is Page Speed?

Simple Tips to Speed Up Your Website Graphic

Page speed measures how fast the content loads on your website page and is also known as page load time; the time taken to display the content fully on a specific page. It can also be described as the time to first byte, the time the browser takes to receive the first batch of information from the server.

Page speed matters a lot as pages that load fast naturally deliver content faster. So they satisfy the needs of the modern user better. This is why page load time has been used as a ranking factor for many years. Every year, its importance in the website’s SERP positions grows. 

Page speed only started as a metric to determine how quickly a user can access the page content. But now, it has transformed into a massive indicator of the website’s user experience. In fact, it was rolled in the Google Page Experience update in 2021 to enhance the algorithm.

Page speed is affected by many factors such as HTML code, CSS, JavaScript files, videos, images, multimedia, and other page elements. In fact, anything from the speed of the hosting server to the element size affects it. We have discussed each of them in detail below. 

Before we go further into details, let us tell you that page speed is measured differently for desktop and mobile. This is because these pieces of equipment have technological differences between them, resulting in differences in user experience.

Page Speed vs. Site Speed

Don’t get page speed confused with “site speed,” which is the page speed for a sample of page views on a site. Though they may seem similar, site speed is the average of several pages on a site, while page speed describes the waiting time of an individual page. 

Fast Teams Make Fast Websites Graphic

Why It Matters?

As website performance is the focal point of success for modern online businesses, the technologically superior sites in terms of speed have the upper hand! There are 2 things that dictate the digital world:

  1. Speed
  2. Design

As we are on the topic of speed, let us discuss why is it so important:

Slow speed kills while fast speed sells

Customers simply don’t want to wait. Everyone knows that slow web pages are torture and kill website performance. According to Kissmetrics, if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load a page, one-fourth of users will click away and move to a different search result. Furthermore, 73% of users will also report visiting a slow website. The bottom line is slow page speed frustrates users into seeking alternatives while faster speed sells!

Google Loves Speed

Impatience is a digital virtue, and even Google agrees with us. Google announced in 2010 that page speed would be included as one of the ranking factors for their search index. Then 2017 gave page speed even more consideration in Google’s algorithm of “mobile-first” pages. More recently, Google began experimenting with its AMP ( Accelerated Mobile Pages) Project, which aims to make pages load on mobile devices more quickly.

Metrics Rely On it

Moreover, countless other metric apps, research papers, and infographics show that page speed is one of the highest and most affordable ROI-providing investments! Especially as mobile users expect fast speed, it affects conversion rate. For example, Walmart.com experienced a 2% increase in conversion for every second of increased page speed. On the other hand, longer load times negatively affect conversions.

Better on-page user experience 

Lastly, Page speed is vital because faster pages are more efficient and lead to a better on-page user experience. In addition, pages with longer load times usually face higher bounce rates and lower average time:

ThinkWithGoogle trained a deep neural network with a large set of conversion and bounce rate data. The AI was built with a similarity to the brain and nervous system holding a 90% accuracy in predicting behaviour. When trained it found the bounce rate significantly increases over time:

mobile page speed loading time graphic

via: ThinkWithGoogle

Moreover, page speed also affects SEO. We have discussed it in detail below. 

Page Speed Metrics

As page speed is a complex factor that heavily affects website performance, it is essential to understand how it is measured. Several metrics relate to or affect page speed.

Let’s take a look at them:

  • LCP (Largest Contentful Paint): Relating to the page’s load time, this measure represents whether the page’s main content load appropriately or not. 
  • FIP (First Input Delay) relates to a page’s interactivity. First Input Delay deals with the time between the user’s first interaction and when the browser responds to that interaction appropriately.
  • CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift): This metric represents the instances when a page’s design shift unexpectedly, or when the visual stability is compromised. It highlights when the page shifts abruptly and the users accidentally click the wrong page button.

CORE WEB VITALS LCP FID AND CLS GRAPHIC

via WEBNSO

How Does Page Speed Impact SEO?

As SEO is also an important part of the online stratosphere, we would like to highlight how it is connected with page speed. Even though they are not firmly co-related, speed does impact SEO. Thus it can affect your ranking. So monitoring and optimising page speed are always mentioned among SEO best practices.

Google uses page speed in its ranking algorithm, and it ramped up its importance with The “Speed” update in 2018. So it has become relatively crucial for SEO. Research also shows that a slow page speed means search engines can crawl fewer pages in their allocated crawl budget, which negatively affects your indexation.

So speeding up sites is essential—not just for Internet users but for site owners too. Google internal studies show that faster sites improve ranking, create satisfied users, and reduce operating costs

Currently, page speed criteria for SEO can be met by meeting Google’s minimum thresholds for Core Web Vitals. After that, you can use various tools to determine whether your page speed is up to the mark. Here are some of them that Google recommends evaluating the speed of your page:

  • Page Speed: This is an open-source Firefox add-on that evaluates the performance of your webpage and gives suggestions.
  • YSlow: This is a tool introduced by Yahoo! which advises on improving website speed.
  • WebPagetest: This helpful tool highlights a waterfall view of your pages’ load performance. It also provides an optimisation checklist.

However, remember the speed that needs to be met to benefit SEO is constantly changing. Moreover, remember page speed doesn’t carry as much importance as the relevance of a page. So when devoting SEO resources, keep this in mind!

Last but not least, a general guide for good page speed is 3 seconds or less. A faster loading page will indeed help in SEO efforts.

3 seconds website loading time graphic

How To Do Better Your Page Speed – Step-by-step:

I hope by now you have understood the importance of website speed optimisation. So you must be looking for a way to enhance it. But, before you apply DIY tricks to improve load times, it is important to understand what makes a page slow.

Factors that Slow Pages Down

After comparing numerous sites and considering different factors, we came across these significant elements that cause a site to slow down:

  • First, pages with heavy images, especially those with high DPI, can load slowly. You can either optimise these images to make your site more lightweight or distribute them through a CDN (content delivery network ) to increase page speed.
  • Another factor that slows down your page is if it has too many large downloadable files.
  • Too many JavaScript scripts also slow a page down. You can use a JavaScript compression tool to decrease it.
  • Site leverage server caching also decreases page speed. It stores copies of pages from week to year. Thus it lowers your Time to First Byte (TTFB ). 
  • Unused code, be it JS or CSS, leftover in the page’s HTML can also increase page load time. 
  • Another problem affecting page speed is rendering scripts too early or too late. If the design of the pages allows consumption only after all the content loads, it can negatively affect page speed.

Mobile Page Speed is a Mobile Ranking Factor Graphic

Way to Increase Page Speed

After learning the factors that impact page speed and what slows it down, now is the time to learn such quick hacks to increase it. Here are some tips to make your page faster:

Enable compression

Use file compression software to reduce the size of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files greater than 150 bytes.

Please do not use these software on images and use a program like Photoshop to compress them. This is because you can retain control over image quality. See more on optimizing images below.

Stop Pop-Ups

Most developers suggest mobile pop-ups are okay. However, if you are building a website with a content management system and pop-ups are created from plug-ins, it will slow down your page. So it’s best to remove these pop-ups.

Minimise and compress JavaScript, CSS, and HTML

Unnecessary characters such as spaces and commas in your code can bloat and dramatically reduce page speed. So please remove them and also get rid of code comments and formatting that you no longer use on your site. We recommend using UglifyJS and CSSNano.

Hosting Font from a CDN

Custom web fonts are the worst when it comes to loading. In addition, they are detrimental to page loading speeds. So using a CDN could help you tremendously in this aspect.

Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript

We suggest you avoid rendering-blocking JavaScript as browsers need a DOM tree to render a page that reduces speed. 

Stop On-Page Advertisements 

Advertisements are one of those elements that you can toss out to improve your page speed. For starters, as ads are served by a third-party server, they take time and increase your page’s loading time. Secondly, more than 26% of the population uses ad-blocking technology, so it’s useless to put up ads. So remove them altogether, 

Minimise or ditch Cumbersome Contact Channels 

The website’s contact channels, such as forms, can also impact speed. From how long they take to fill out to their length and multi-page format, all of it can reduce loading speeds. So, in general, you should minimise their usage and include them when absolutely necessary. Try to make them lean and ditch them whenever possible.

Reduce redirects

Every time a page redirects, your users face additional waiting time as the HTTP request-response cycle takes longer to complete. So reduce redirects as they make your page load slower.

Activate browser caching

From stylesheets and images to JavaScript files, browsers cache a lot. So use it to your benefit, and when the user revisits your site, the browser won’t have to reload the entire page as it leverages on the previous info. 

Improve server response time

Your page speed is also affected by your server response time. This, in turn, is impacted by the amount of traffic, the resources being used, the server software, and the hosting solution used. So look for bottlenecks in these areas and improve them. The optimal server response time should be under 200ms. 

Upgrade hosting

If nothing works, it might be time to upgrade from cheap £4.99 hosting to more expensive premium hosting. You can also go for a dedicated server if your budget allows. Again, there are millions of options to choose from, so pick wisely.

Use a content distribution network

Apart from hosting fonts, you can use CDN (Content distribution network) for other things too. For example, use them to distribute the load of delivering content so that your users can have faster access to your site. Implementing CDN is one the easiest ways to boost loading speed as it figures where your user is physically located and then serves the site’s resources from a server closest to them.

Optimising images

As visuals take 50-90% of a page’s size, to increase speed, ensure that your images are in the correct format (PNGs for graphics with less than 16 colours, JPEGs for photographs). Also, they shouldn’t be larger than necessary and be compressed for the web.

Test With Multiple Testing Tools

After implementing the above steps, check how you’re doing by using page speed testing tools. 

We would recommend Google PageSpeed Insights as it is the best.

As we mentioned at the beginning, page speed is not the only thing that matters. Your web design also impacts your digital presence. So let us learn more about it:

What is Web Design?

Web design is the essence of your site. It is what creates the overall look your user see and experience when they visit your site. So basically, web designing is all about creating the elements (structure, font, layout, images, colours, graphics, etc.) that make it whole.

As a website has numerous components, the web design gels them together to create a wholesome user experience. From creating graphics to enhancing user experience, designing interfaces, planning search engine optimisation (SEO), and looking after content creation, web design caters to all. 

All these elements have to co-relate so that your website can feel and works smoothly on various devices. To help you understand the art of website designing, we have compiled this guide:

Online Tools Bloggers website owners design graphic

Web Design VS Web Development

Let us first clarify the difference between Web design and web development. They are both completely different as development revolves around actual coding, which makes a website workable, while the design is the layout that is presented to the users. 

So when you are building a website, developing and designing will be two separate steps. You will require both web designers and web developers as they have distinct skill sets. Web designers handle the creative part and turn your ideas into a mockup that reflects your future website. 

On the other hand, web developers, also known as coders, use that mockup and translate it into coding language. Then, they make the websites functional by using custom-coding widgets so they can be displayed online. 

You can find a person who is both a web designer and a user experience (UX) developer. This means they will have both the technical skills to code and design skills to put them in a layout to attract and keep visitors.

Is Web Designing Significant?

Yes, yes, and yes!

The design is the face of your website, and the website is your business’s face. With successful companies focusing on having an active online presence and customers caring more about their companies digital footprint a website has become a brand’s most critical and valuable asset. It is what often can create the first impression, and in a competitive online environment first impressions really matter. 

We can’t stress enough the significance of a good web design. The point is if you don’t have a robust web design, you’re holding your brand’s online presence.

If prospective customers search the web for your business and find something subpar, they will not stay even if your product or service is extraordinary. Likewise, if your site’s layout and usability are flawed, they will get the first impression that you don’t care much about your brand. This will destroy your conversion rate.

As your brand’s relationship with users begins with your website, make it count. And the best way to do that is by getting your web design right.

Now that you know what’s what and why it’s essential let us tell you some tell-tale signs of good web design and how to get one!

What is a good web design?

Unlike other fields where what constitutes “good” is up to the user’s taste, Web design isn’t a subjective concept. As a result, when it comes to competent website designing, there is a fine line between “good” and “not so great.” 

In layman’s terms, a well-designed website is one that creates the perfect user experience. However, in web speak terms, it is the design that converts. Which means it compels the visitor to take a specific action. 

To help you understand better, here are some signs which show whether a design is effective or not: 

  • Good use of negative space
  • Clear presentation of choices for the user 
  • Fewer and only relevant options so that users are not overwhelmed and confused)
  • Obvious calls to action
  • Limited distractions 
  • A well-thought-out user journey with relevant and high-quality images plus text. 
  • Buttons and pop-ups that are 100% relevant to the subject 
  • Limited font variations for emphasis 
  • Responsive design which resizes itself to the user’s screen
  • A mobile-friendly website can be used on any device: phone, laptop, tablet, or desktop.
  • All the elements should complement each other to promote conversions.
  • Appropriately sized fonts
  • A balance between visual and text and images ( too many words can overwhelm while too little content can be disengaging)
  • No stock photography
  • Remains faithful to your brand
  • Have building blocks such as appropriate tabs, a cool colour palette, etc

Well, most of the features in the above list pertain to aesthetics. However, a good web design isn’t just gorgeous. Its function matters too. If it doesn’t remain true to your brand, it will fail to succeed no matter how beautiful it is. Even the most artistic website is useless if they don’t match your brand and users. So you have to maintain a balance between aesthetics and functionality:

Users like engaging, eye-catching websites, easy to use. and fit the brands. If you want to win at web design, you have to mesh it all together. Along with making the design aesthetically pleasing, work on making the usability and functionality above par. 

web design examples graphic

via HexaDesigns

What Doesn’t Work?

We have gone through what constitutes a good design but let us also highlight what doesn’t work. Here are things that you might falsely think are suitable for your website:

  • Calls to action can kill your web design and turn off your customer. When done sparingly CTA’s are great, but too many of them can actually ruin your web design. Moreover, murky ones with low contrast fonts can be a disaster as they are hard to read. Go for high contrast fonts and conciseness when it comes to CTA’s.
  • Don’t overcomplicate your website. This is a big no. The visitors shouldn’t have to find their way through as in a maze. The whole experience should be easy and intuitive so that they would come back. Don’t test their patience, or you will lose them.
  • Vibrant images and backgrounds. You might think vibrancy compliments the web design, but it doesn’t. It’s distracting. As a general rule, the background and visuals should be subtle and convey the message humbly.
  • Mobile responsiveness is vital almost as much as on the PC. If you think you can do without this feature, you are wrong. There is simply no place for non-responsive design nowadays.
  • Unclear links should be avoided, and users should know which image or tab will lead them to new pages. The links and tabs should be clearly placed and well-informed.
  • Generic stock photos are a turn-off. Everything should reflect your brand’s quality, and stock photos do the opposite.
  • No filler text as your website is not a someplace to dump irrelevant info. Information should add value or should be discarded. Black hat tactics like keyword stuffing should also be avoided.
  • Sometimes design elements such as grid layouts can be too much. They aren’t inherently wrong, but they can be ineffective if not used properly. Just be careful when applying them. 
  • Another tricky option is animation. It should be used minimally. (sadly) it’s not 1999 anymore. However, if well placed, like as an exit pop-up, it can catch users’ attention and can get them to convert. So there is a time and a place to use them well.

We have discussed the importance of web design in terms of user experience, but does it impact SEO? This is still unanswered. Well, the truth is it actually does, and here is how: 

How Does Web Design Affect SEO?

In today’s world, SEO is important, so when looking at web design, you cannot ignore it. When choosing a web design, you have to keep in mind the effect it can have on your ranking. 

User experience is a crucial ranking factor, and web design impacts it. Because of that, the design of your website indirectly plays a vital role in your site’s rankings in the search results.

Below we are going to highlight how web design practices can directly impact a site’s SEO performance and how you can improve it:

The Navigation Structure 

Every site has a navigation structure that impacts vital metrics such as average time on page, bounce rate, conversion rate, and engagement rate. This structure is part of the design and depends on how quickly users can find information on your website.

The easier it is to navigate through your site, the higher your site reaches in search engine results pages. Moreover, it also contributes to more revenue and profit.

Improvement: 

  • The main menu should be simple. Minimal options can also avoid confusion.
  • Avoid complex jargon and use familiar terms.
  • The main menu should be available on all web pages.
  • It should be equally accessible on mobile devices. 
  • Add a search bar 
  • URLs should be precise yet concise. An average person can look at them and understand where it leads
  • Descriptive anchor text should be used for internal links.

The ‘404’ page

Nobody likes it when a 404 error page pops up. So it is safe to say that if your web design encounters a’ 404′ error, it pushes it down the Search engine ranking. This usually happens because there is a broken link or a page does not exist anymore.

The bottom line is users hate it. The error page does nothing to attract them to the site, and a valuable customer walks away just like that. This negatively impacts your traffic conversion and ranking. 

Disney 404 page gif

Improvement:

However, with a little bit of strategy, you can turn the error page into a user-friendly page that compels them to stay on your site. Here are some tips that can work for your SEO:

  • Get rid of generic design and ensure that even your 404 page is engaging and attention-grabbing.
  • Clearly communicate what happened so the users can understand and remain on your site
  • Add a search bar functionality so that users get another opportunity
  • Eliminate dead links so that the possibility of the 404 error is minimized. 

So prepare beforehand, and if you succeed in creating a unique yet helpful 404 web page, it will allow you to keep attracting users to your website. In addition, this will help you later in search engine rankings.

Images

Whether it is the image size, quality, or relevancy, it all affects SEO. Almost all websites use images, but only a few make good use of them. For higher rankings, relevant and exciting images are needed. As a result, they attract attention and increase the average on-page time. This, in turn, raises the engagement rate and search engine ranking.

However, beware! Using many images can have adverse effects as it can be sore to the eyes and slow down page speed. As discussed above, sow page speed is terrible for search engine rankings, so it’s best to keep images in check. Also, ensure that the images you use to load up or they will be useless for the visitors.

Improvements:

Here are a few tips for SEO images:

  • Adding keywords to their title.
  • Add descriptive alt text to each image as search engines can’t understand visuals and use text to index the photos. The alt text is also helpful when a visual fails to load
  • Use compressed images to reduce server load and increase the page loading speed.

Pop-ups and Ads

Pop-ups and Ads appear in many web designs, but it’s a bad practice. Not only does it make your site lose credibility, but it also frustrates the user; this results in lower engagement and lowers ranking on search engines. 

The user has come to your site for valuable info. Presenting it with an ad or pop is not a proper way to great them. They may quit the site instantly. This will likely lead to Google demoting your page in the SERPs.

Improvements

Here is how you can prevent pop-ups from sending a negative signal to Google 

  • Use relevant pop-ups which are keyword-rich
  • Ads should be relevant too.
  • Minimise the use of ads and pop-ups
  • If necessary, use an exit-intent pop-up that appears when the user is leaving
  • Use them only when you have to promote an event or a free lead magnet

Reading experience

This is one of the most critical parts of the design and significantly affects SEO strategy. As users come to your site for information, they look for a pleasant reading experience. After browsing different sites, they stop at yours to consume content. 

But if they find that the answers to their questions are not well presented or formatted, it will be a turn-off for them. So to engage them and get your rankings right, design your website so that it provides your users their answers in the easiest way. This will lead to more on-page time and reduce bounce rate, eventually translating into higher search engine rankings.

Improvement:

Here are some ways to create a fantastic reading experience to enhance SEO:

  • No dark colours
  • Keep it light and clean
  • There should be ample white space
  • Font size should be prominent
  • The font should be easy to read. We prefer sans serif font
  • Divide content into categories by using headings, bullets, etc.
  • Use short sentences and paragraphs
  • Use infographics, visuals, and videos 

Traditionally, it was beloved that web design and SEO are not linked. However, the lines have blurred now. Even though they are two different aspects of the digital world, they are interconnected because a well-designed website influences user experience, which is crucial for search engine optimisation. So now SEO and web design are intertwined, and together, they can help your website remain at the top of the SERPs.

How To Get a Perfect Web Design?

After reading so much, you must think getting a perfect web design is not possible—however, ts, not that complex. Thankfully, you have professionals to do it for you, so you are not alone. 

There are a few ways you can get the website of your dreams. However, the final choice depends on your needs, budget, and what’s suitable for your brand.: 

  • Work directly with a web designer: there are thousands of freelance developers waiting to design your site. You just have to browse through their profiles and find the right match. Pick the designer who fits your style. The advantage of hiring a freelance designer is that they listen to you. Mostly they use templates, but highly skilled ones can build your site from scratch.
  • Another way to get a website made is to host a contest on freelancing platforms and hire the person that comes up with the best idea. You can find many venues, such as 99designs, where you have designers submit their web design templates based on your specifications.
  • If you have some basic knowledge, you can create your site. Many template-driven website builders have made website designing easy, even for newbies. Software like Wix and Squarespace opens up many doors; however, you will be limited to what they offer.
  • You can hire an agency if you want a highly professional site. There are many options in the market, like Smarter Digital Marketing that build excellent custom websites. This option is best if you have a complex website design in mind. 

No matter which option you use. Just ensure that the result is worthy of being published. Your web design can cost a few hundred dollars or thousands of dollars, depending on your specification. But in the long run, it can cost you loads of revenue if not correctly built.

So be wise when making a choice. To decide between a custom-built website or a template-based one, think about what you need your website for. Get it built from scratch if you need it to scale and adapt to various business needs. On the other hand, if your budget is tight and you think the standard style will suffice, a customised template is good.

web design pencil graphic

Conclusion

But is it enough? In the end, nothing is ever enough. In the digital world, everything continuously evolves. So to remain at the top of the game, you need to keep up with both the change and its pace.  

When it comes to loading speeds, your can always make your website go faster. However, after implementing all the caching, optimisations, and other minification, you need to keep checking for more improvement. 

For web design, take a more hands-on role in the designing process. If you hire designers, make sure they are the best, like smarter digital marketing. Tell them about your brand and voice your concerns. If you communicate well early, they can surely get you the website that meets your expectations. The more info you give them, the more equipped they will be to work their magic.

Lastly, if possible, try to refurbish and update your site frequently, and don’t go for a shoddy web designer/developer just because they are cheap. Pay more to step up your game and get creative. Trust us; it will pay off in the long term. As both speed and design affect conversions, try to work on them simultaneously. Ensure you end up having a great website that attracts your prospective user, is easy to navigate, has a fast pace, and speaks to them.

We hope our in-depth article on the importance of fast loading and snappy website helps you optimise your web presence and increase your reach. 

May it bring you more traffic and conversion!