Can Your Customers Drive The Speed Limit?
Are you losing mortgage customers (and money) because your web site is too slow?
Is There a Traffic Jam at your Site?
Most web sites are very slow loading and need to be speeded up. If fact, most of our mortgage clients have no idea how slow their web site is until they try viewing their web site on a 56k modem. In fact, almost 90-95% of Internet users are still using slow dial up modems (not DSL or cable).
The Internet is just like driving on the freeway. If your customers cannot drive the speed limit, they will just speed pass your site and visit your online mortgage competitors.
You need to add some horsepower to your website to ensure the following:
- Your web pages load very quick
- Your customers stay on your site
- Your visitor-to-customer conversion rate improves
Sports Car or ‘68 VW Bus?
Most people try to put everything (including the kitchen sink) on the homepage. One client of ours had 65 graphics on the home page and it took over 2.5 minutes to load on a 56k modem.
As a general rule, try to lay out your homepage so that the visitor can view all the information on it without paging down. This is called in real world terms "above the fold".
Pages beyond the homepage can be two or three times its size, especially if the content is comprised of text and not graphics. Keep in mind that although many of your mortgage customers are still plodding along with 56 kbs modems. These users are not likely to wait longer than 10-15 seconds for your mortgage homepage to download.
Many HTML editors, such as Microsoft’s Front Page have a load time feature built in to their program. You simply create a page then it tells you how long the page takes to load on a 28.8, 56, Cable, T-1, etc. You can then adjust your images and content to ensure your page loads fast. Additional resources are at the end of this article.
Quick Loading Graphics
With graphics and digital images, there is always some trade-off between quality and the size of the graphic. There are many software programs out there that will reduce the size of your graphics.
Use graphics only if they help customers understand what they are looking for or if they convey information that cannot be conveyed effectively through text. And keep graphics as simple and as small as possible; so they load quickly.
On the Internet, mortgage customers first look for relevant text, not graphics. Make sure you have clear well written text available straight away. That will keep your customers interested while the graphics load.
Keep Your HTML Concise
As a web developer works on your web site by updates and changing code; the overall HTML code becomes cluttered with empty and redundant html.
Most HTML editors offer an option to clean up your HTML by eliminating unneeded code. This not only cleans up your code for appearance purposes, but makes your pages loads quicker, as there is less code to process.
Cache Friendly Graphics
When a visitor to your site first enters your homepage, their browser downloads all the graphics on that page. When they continue on to pages deeper in your mortgage website, many browsers will store (or "cache") the graphics from the homepage and use them again on each page on which they're encountered. This saves the same graphics from being downloaded on each and every page of your website.
In order to take advantage of caching, your site needs to use common graphics on each page. For example, we try to use a consistent top navigation graphic for the entire web site. The first time this top graphic is encountered, it will be downloaded. Each succeeding time it is encountered, the browser will use the cached copy of the graphic, which saves a significant amount of download time.
Tune-up Your Site
Here are a few suggestions for tools to help speed your web site.
GifWizard.com: Offers services to check your web site for “bloating” and shows how your web site looks while loading at 56k, even if you are on a faster connection.
HTMLValidator.com: A free service that will correct the majority of basic HTML problems.
W3.org: Several programs are offered including,
Style Sheet Validator, HTML Validator (different version), HTML Tidy, Link Checker and more.
Don’t Get a Speeding Ticket
Following these suggestions will help you create fast loading content; one of the most important elements of an effective website. Remember that old saying, that the three most important things in real estate is location, location, and location?
Well, the three most important things in Internet marketing is speed, speed, and speed. Speed will get customers past your homepage, keep them on your site, and encourage them to use your mortgage services.
Once your visitors can drive the speed limit to your site, you will be ready for the next step content that compels your visitor to become your customer. More on that in next month’s article.
Rod Aries and Robert Farris are co-founders of MortgagePromote.com, a leading Internet marketing provider to corporate mortgage clients. On request, they conduct nationwide training seminars covering Internet marketing strategies, lead generation, web site development techniques and more. Web site: www.mortgagepromote.com.