The web has come a long way since the days of plain white screens and bulleted lists of links. In the early days, when most people were still on dial-up, even the most rudimentary additional feature could slow things to a crawl. Even having a large image or a short video on your website could take forever for it to load.
But now, it’s an entirely different world. Having 1,000 Mbps on a home connection may soon become the norm, and mobile and home connections are growing faster than ever before. And faster connections mean the opportunity for the integration of more features. And more features mean more appeal to users, right?
Why Fast Websites Are Important
In case you’re not familiar with this particular figure, you should know that most users bail on a website within the first three seconds if it hasn’t loaded. And 80% of those who leave never come back. For big companies with big websites (like Amazon or Walmart), adding even milliseconds to the load time can cost millions in revenue. Three seconds isn’t a lot of time — and that’s why it’s important to make sure your website doesn’t become an unfortunate statistic.
The Most Popular Website Integrations
First, let’s look at some of the most popular website integrations and why they have so much appeal. In many cases, the benefit you gain from having an integration may be worth the hit your load time takes — and that’s fine! Just so long as load speed isn’t impacted to the point where your customers start leaving.
- Google Fonts, can add a layer of aesthetic appeal and richness to any website. It’s a great way to get beyond the plainness of Times New Roman without overdoing it on graphic design.
- SnapWidget, for perfectly showcasing social media posts from platforms like Instagram or Twitter.
- AI chatbots and live chat integrations for providing real-time customer service or interaction with website visitors.
- Website analytics, such as Google Analytics or Crazy Egg.
- Backup and security tools, such as VaultPress.
- Social sharing tools.
Common Culprits That Reduce Website Speed
Now let’s take a look at some of the features that can slow a website down, to the point where new (or otherwise loyal) customers might go somewhere else.
- Too many advertisements. Web advertising has been taking a beating for years, and some websites have tried to compensate by adding more and more ads. Some websites have become borderline unusable, and if the experience itself doesn’t turn visitors off, then the performance hit incurred by the ads might.
- Poorly written code or non-optimized code. Software changes over time, development teams change, and code gets outdated. This is part of a website’s natural life cycle, but it means revisiting your code base from time to time and making sure there’s not a lot of dead weight slowing it down.
- Traffic spikes. In the old days of the web, this used to be called the “Slashdot Effect.” Now, traffic spikes can happen as a result of a social media post going viral, sudden exposure in the media, or any number of other factors. If your website doesn’t have proper load balancing to deal with certain resources being overloaded, then it could end up slowing down or even going down entirely.
- Not using a content delivery network (CDN). We’ll touch on that one below.
How to Prevent Third-Party Integrations from Slowing Your Website Down
- Choose software/plugins with fast scripts. Any webmaster can tell you not all software solutions are created equal. Before you install that third-party integration and make your website dependent on its functions, check the reviews and (perhaps even more importantly) the support forums to see what kinds of problems other users have.
- Upgrade your website to support integrations. For example, WordPress offers a customer service ticket system integration with various CRM software.
- Use a Content Delivery Service (CDN) if the third-party app is hosted in another country. A CDN is made up of several different servers placed in various geographic locations. Data is stored on these servers so they can be loaded more quickly by users who might be very far from your main server. Cloudflare is one of the most common and popular options.
- Clean up your website’s code. Bloated, unused, or legacy code can needlessly use up
- and slow your website down. It could be time to overhaul your code and get it down to just the essentials.
- Install a caching tool. A cache stores up-to-date versions of a website’s files on a user’s computer, so they don’t have to be downloaded again when the site is revisited. Loading these elements from a local source instead of a remote one can speed up performance significantly.
- Run regular performance tests using a tool like Super Monitoring. If a third-party integration is slowing down the performance, talk to the vendor to try to solve the problem. If it can’t be solved, it might be best to look for a faster and more reliable alternative.