Website Technical Performance’s Impact on Website Marketing Performance

by Andrew Schulkind

Although we do technical work – hard not to when you’re building websites, developing email campaigns, and doing search engine optimization – our audience (that’s you!) is mostly made up of marketers.

And while there are exceptions, most of you don’t want to dig too deeply into the technologies that deliver your marketing magic. Your eyes glaze over …

That’s understandable. But I’m going to ask you to come along for a short technology ride because your website’s marketing performance hinges at least in part on its technical performance.

In other words, how well your website is coded impacts how well it will support your marketing goals. And the biggest factor in website performance is how quickly the site pages load.

If you don’t want to read any further, no worries. Just copy and paste this into an email and send it to your tech lead:

Hey tech team, are we doing everything we should be to make sure our site is loading as quickly as possible? (Compression, minification, imager optimization, caching, etc.) LMK.

A better plan would be to continue reading and then send the email. That way, you’ll have a better chance of understanding the response.

 

Dutch speed skater

Photo by David Rosen

Website Page Compression

Compressing your website page code can shave seconds, not just milliseconds, from page load times. It works by reducing the data taken up by your HTML and other files. Less data equals faster load times.

Minification

Similarly, you can reduce the overhead of your CSS files by minifying them. We don’t need to dive into the difference between compression and minification to get it to work. Just know that as with compressing pages, you’ll save valuable bytes and decrease page load times.

Reduce the Bloat

If your site is more than six months old, I can all but guarantee there are page elements that aren’t being used. Site changes are made and often classes and styles that are no longer needed continue to hang around.

A quarterly review can help keep CSS and Javascript from checking in and never checking out. Waiting any longer, and things get harder to track.

Optimize Images

This is a biggie, and all the more important because images are added to your site all the time. Images are also added by a far wider team than the team that might be working with CSS and Javascript.

First, be sure all images are uploaded at the appropriate size and resolution. Provide guides for all image sizes that content managers might need to upload – page header images, team member headshots, basic editorial images, etc. Let them know the preferred format and pixel dimensions. And do not permit them to scale the image in your CMS. Uploading an image that is 1200×800 and then scaling it to display at 600×400 is pure laziness and will drag down page load times quickly.

Also be sure you don’t have content cowboys (or cowgirls) who know how to use a screen measurement tool and base their upload sizes on what they see on their own screens. Responsive coding means an image may need to be uploaded at a size other than the one you see on any particular device in order for it to display properly on all devices.

There are, of course, many ways to keep your site coding lean and mean. Your tech team may prefer different approaches than I’ve mentioned here. More important than what approach is taken is that page load performance is a priority that stays near the top of your team’s list. Monthly or quarterly benchmarking should be included right along side more purely marketing-oriented metrics.