Web speed should NOT be an afterthought.

written by Matt Stern

I had just gotten off the phone with a potential client. He said that of the 10 or so developers and agencies he spoke with, not a single one of them mentioned website performance.

Now, I realize that this is only 10, and certainly there are web designers and developers who focus on speed. But it confirms a trend that we see on many sites.

The *look* is everything, and speed is just an afterthought. Maybe the developer will install a caching plugin. Or a CDN. Maybe.

It’s true, the *look* does matter, but so does speed. If your site takes too long to load, what do you think happens?

Yep, visitors bounce. They don’t even get to admire the look.

Nearly everything you might put on a web page has a potential speed impact. Images, forms, fancy animations, special fonts, Facebook sharing buttons, Instagram feeds, Google analytics tracking codes, shopping carts. You get the picture.

It’s not that any of these are inherently bad. In fact, you may actually need them.

But their value must be compared to their impact on your speed budget.

What’s a speed budget?

Like a monthly spending budget, a speed budget is the maximum amount of time you have to *spend* to load your site.

(We aim for under two seconds but will accept 2.5 seconds for certain sites).

As mentioned above, most things you put on your site draw from your budget. So if you need retina images, chat functionality and an e-commerce system, you may not be able to add that special font that also adds 500 milliseconds to your page load time.

But if you can ditch the chat, there will likely be enough in your budget to add that font.

Speed. Baked in.

Building for speed from the beginning of a project means that we keep the speed budget in mind as we decide what features to include. It helps us focus on the important stuff.

Then, we select fast tools: hosting, themes and plugins–so that your website has a fast foundation.

Finally, we optimize images, configure caching and deploy other speed *tricks* to further cut down load times.

For us, web speed is not an afterthought, but an integral part of what we do.

GT Metrix speed results of a few of our sites. Click to enlarge.

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