The 5 Factors of a Fast Mobile Website
As we’ve noted, legal consumers aren’t likely to choose your firm if your mobile-optimized website takes a long time to load. It’s a crucial topic FindLaw explores in its new white paper, “Seconds Matter: The Real-World Risk of a Slow Mobile Website.” As the paper makes very clear, when it comes to building your firm’s business, speed is of the essence.
But measuring your site’s speed isn’t simple. The sheer number of speed-measurement tools on the market reflects that fact. One reason so many tools exist is that there are several elements in your site’s design that can affect loading speed. Some tools measure factor A, others measure factor B. Place your faith in the wrong tool and you could be led astray.
In truth, even this approach is myopic. Measuring your site’s speed is merely diagnostic. Improving your mobile page speed is what will actually make a difference. So if you’re stymied by a possibly slow site, take a look at these factors. They could make the difference between winning new clients and turning them away.
Factor one: Images
Needless to say, you want a your site to look good. That means incorporating carefully chosen photographs and your firm’s logo. This helps brand your practice in the legal consumer’s mind. But on a mobile site, images can have a real impact on your site’s rendering speed. Your website vendor should ascertain that images are compressed and optimized for fast delivery. And keeping the number of images to an essential minimum is also, well, essential.
Factor two: Landing page redirects
See if this sounds familiar. You go to a website, and suddenly you’re redirected to another page with a different URL. Why does this happen? Perhaps a business has changed its name or come up with a shorter web address. Sometimes a landing page redirect makes sense, but they do add one more layer of complexity that some page speed tools may not like.
Factor three: Visible and invisible content
Along with the images, there are coding elements in your site’s design that are invisible. Since all content, seen and unseen, loads in a specified order, your site should load the visible items first. After all, that’s what a potential client is looking for.
Factor four: Code elements
Because mobile sites are typically less complex than desktop sites, a mobile site needs fewer code elements. In fact, a lot of coding can slow your site down. To boost speed, website designers can use “minification” techniques to minimize or reduce the number of “characters” in a web page’s source code.
Factor five: Proximity
It might seem remarkable in our high-speed digital age, but physical distance actually does matter when delivering data. By shortening the distance between server and user, you can increase the speed at which your content is delivered. That’s why many website designers suggest that their clients consider a content delivery network. A CDN is a network of servers that delivers web content based on the geographic location of the user. In other words, it’s like shipping a website from the next state versus across the country. Employing a CDN can digitally bring your site closer to your potential clients.
True, you’re an attorney, not a techie – and I’ll admit, a lot of this is pretty technical information. I’m not expecting most law firms to minimize their own code. But being familiar with these factors and solutions can help you have a more productive discussion about speed with your vendor. Look at the specific information and images that your site is delivering, and the software it uses to deliver it. Traffic, conversion and technical performance are all factors to examine when assessing the experience your website delivers to legal consumers. Page delivery speed is a key element of that experience. But it’s not the only one.
Still, without a site that loads fast onto a legal consumer’s smartphone or tablet, you’re going nowhere. Again, speed is not just one thing—many factors affect it. You can’t control all of them. But as you’ll learn in a future post, there are many than you can control.