A man sitting at a desk, stressed with his hands on his head as he tries to get faster pagespeed scores.

Balancing Performance And User Experience

High Pagespeed Scores

A man sitting at a desk, stressed with his hands on his head as he tries to get faster pagespeed scores.

Feeding The Obsession

By: Simon | Category: Pagespeed
Published Date: 19th January, 2024

In the fast paced world of online business and digital presence, website owners often find themselves caught in the never ending pursuit of higher pagespeed scores to get their website to ‘go green’.

Chasing Rainbows

These scores, provided by tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights, have become a benchmark for website performance. However, is the relentless pursuit of the perfect score justified for all website owners?

Best Practices

In this article, we will explore why going after extremely high pagespeed scores is (almost) pointless for most website owners, and how a balance between performance and user experience is far more beneficial.

The Misleading Obsession

It’s Just A Score

Pagespeed scores, especially on mobile devices, have become a holy grail for many website owners. The belief is that the higher the score, the better the website’s performance, leading to improved search engine rankings and overall user satisfaction. However, focusing solely on achieving the highest possible score might be a misguided approach.

It’s Important But…

While it’s essential to ensure that your website loads reasonably fast, it’s equally important to recognise that a score above a certain threshold is often sufficient. For most websites, a PageSpeed score comfortably over 60% on mobile should be considered acceptable.

To put that into perspective, that’s well into the ‘pass’ threshold, or amber – at 50%. The global average is around 36%. Beyond this point, the effort required to achieve incremental increases in scores can be disproportionate to the actual benefits gained.

Focus On Your Users

If Users Love Your Site

Google WIll Too

The Visual Sacrifice

One of the main drawbacks of chasing extremely high pagespeed scores is the potential sacrifice of visual elements. Some optimisation techniques involve compressing images, deferring the loading of certain scripts, or minimising CSS styles. While these practices can enhance performance, they may also result in a visual compromise.

Websites are not just about functionality. They are also about aesthetics and branding. Elements like high quality images, custom fonts, and intricate design details contribute to a brand’s identity and user engagement. Over optimisation in the pursuit of a flawless pagespeed score may lead to a bland and generic appearance, diluting the uniqueness of a website and potentially impacting its brand image.

The Branding Conundrum

Brand consistency is crucial for building trust and recognition among users. When website owners prioritise pagespeed scores above a certain reasonable threshold, they risk diluting their brand identity. Consistent branding involves maintaining a recognisable look and feel across various digital touchpoints, and excessively optimising for speed can disrupt this continuity.

Branding goes beyond just the visual elements. It encompasses the overall user experience. A website that loads extremely fast but lacks a distinct personality might struggle to leave a lasting impression on visitors. Therefore, website owners should strike a balance between optimising for performance and preserving their brand identity.

Functionality At The Cost Of User Experience

Excessive optimisation efforts to achieve ultra high pagespeed scores may lead to the loss of essential functionalities on a website. Some optimisation techniques involve deferring or asynchronously loading certain scripts, which can impact the execution of interactive elements and third party tools.

User experience is a multifaceted aspect that goes beyond page loading speed. An ultra fast website that sacrifices key functionalities may frustrate users and drive them away. It’s crucial to prioritise the user experience alongside speed optimisation efforts, ensuring that the website not only loads quickly but also functions seamlessly.

The Myth Of SEO Dominance

While it’s true that page loading speed is a factor in search engine ranking algorithms, the correlation between pagespeed scores and search engine rankings is not always straightforward. Search engines consider various factors, including content relevance, backlinks, and user experience, to determine rankings.

Focusing solely on achieving the highest pagespeed score may not guarantee a significant boost in search engine rankings. In fact, neglecting other critical aspects of SEO in pursuit of an elusive score might be counterproductive. Website owners should adopt a holistic approach to SEO, considering multiple factors that contribute to a comprehensive and effective strategy.

Realistic Benchmarks For Website Owners

Instead of fixating on achieving the highest possible pagespeed score, website owners should set realistic benchmarks based on their specific goals and user expectations. Conducting thorough user testing and gathering feedback can help identify areas that genuinely impact the user experience and require optimisation.

Aiming for a pagespeed score comfortably over 60% on mobile devices provides a solid foundation for a fast and user friendly website. Beyond this threshold, the returns diminish, and the trade offs become more pronounced. Striking the right balance between performance and user experience is key to ensuring that website optimisation efforts align with the overall goals of the business.

Practical Strategies To Consider

Rather than solely relying on pagespeed scores, website owners should adopt practical strategies that enhance performance without sacrificing critical elements. Some effective approaches include:

a.Image Optimisation: Optimise images without compromising quality using tools like image compression and lazy loading.

b.Code Minification: Minify CSS, JavaScript, and HTML to reduce file sizes and improve load times.

c.Browser Caching: Implement browser caching to store static resources locally, reducing load times for returning visitors.

d.Content Delivery Network (CDN): Utilise a CDN to distribute content across multiple servers, improving global loading times.

My Conclusions

In conclusion, the relentless pursuit of extremely high pagespeed scores may not be a worthwhile endeavor for most website owners. Striving for a score comfortably over 60% on mobile devices (80% on desktop) strikes a balance between performance optimisation and preserving crucial elements of branding and user experience.

Website owners must recognise that the goal is not just about achieving a perfect score but about providing a fast, reliable, and enjoyable experience for users. By adopting practical optimisation strategies and setting realistic benchmarks, website owners can ensure that their efforts align with their business objectives while maintaining a strong and distinctive online presence.

Technial blog author

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