Last Updated on February 23, 2022 by Rovamedia

Have you ever visited a website probably to buy a product or service, and the pages take forever to load, and you become frustrated that you had to exit the website? Well, you are not alone, because billions of web users across the globe have been affected by this same problem. Slow loading of a page is caused due to several reasons, from hosting, plugins, images, scripts, and even themes/interface items used in designing the website. Too much CSS is a problem, too much Javascript is an issue too.

The most serious part is that websites that load slowly will find themselves on the bad side of Google, and when that happens Google will not index your website and pages. That’s an ugly place to be in and no business wants to go down to zero traffic rate. Slow website speed creates an extremely bad user experience, one that may result in visitors not coming back to your website or going to your competitors.

In a world where the rate of mobile users are higher than those using a PC or tablet, you’d realize your potential customers want to do business with you as fast as possible, and you’ve got to bring your A-game to this ecosystem, else the future of your business will look bleak. The longer a webpage takes to load, the more its bounce rate will skyrocket. A high bounce rate tells search engines that users don’t find the page content useful, so its rankings will slip. And eCommerce sites will inevitably lose customers if their checkout page is even a little bit slower than those of the competition.

Now you can see this is a serious problem for website owners because it’s not just about building a website, but making it stable and faster is another thing to take into consideration when launching one, unfortunately, many business owners get kicked off once their agency or website developers get their money and launch the initial agreed project, thereby leaving the business owners to the fate of hope.

In this article, we’d discuss what caching is, facts about caching, why it is important to be used on your websites, and how to go about it.

What is Caching?

Everyone would rather have a fast website than a slow website. But loading time is not just a matter of preference – it has a huge impact on a site’s success, too. Thus a website’s speed is super important!

In computing, a cache is a high-speed data storage layer that stores a subset of data, typically transient in nature, so that future requests for that data are served up faster than is possible by accessing the data’s primary storage location. Caching allows you to efficiently reuse previously retrieved or computed data.

Caches can be applied and leveraged throughout various layers of technology including Operating Systems, Networking layers Content Delivery Networks (CDN) and DNS, web applications, and Databases. You can use caching to significantly reduce latency and improve IOPS for many read-heavy application workloads, such as Q&A portals, gaming, media sharing, and social networking. Cached information can include the results of database queries, computationally intensive calculations, API requests/responses, and web artifacts such as HTML, JavaScript, and image files.

Compute-intensive workloads that manipulate data sets, such as recommendation engines and high-performance computing simulations also benefit from an In-Memory data layer acting as a cache. In these applications, very large data sets must be accessed in real-time across clusters of machines that can span hundreds of nodes. Due to the speed of the underlying hardware, manipulating this data in a disk-based store is a significant bottleneck for these applications.

What is website load time?

Website load time — or web page load time — refers to how long it takes for a website or web page, to fully load/ appear on the screen. This includes all content on the page such as text, images, and videos. Simply, it’s how fast all content on a web page loads.

Page speed can depend on several factors — some examples include Page type, user behavior, file sizes, website server/host, inefficient code, hotlinking, and too many plugins and/or widgets.

What About Web Caching?

A Web cache is a system for optimizing the World Wide Web. It is implemented both client-side and server-side. The caching of images and other files can result in a less overall delay when browsing the Web.

The performance of websites and applications can be significantly improved by reusing previously fetched resources. Web caches reduce latency and network traffic and thus lessen the time needed to display resource representations. HTTP caching makes Web sites more responsive.

Caching is the process of storing copies of files in a cache, or temporary storage location so that they can be accessed more quickly. Technically, a cache is any temporary storage location for copies of files or data, but the term is often used in Internet technologies. Web browsers cache HTML files, JavaScript, and images to load websites more quickly, while DNS servers cache DNS records for faster lookups, and CDN servers cache content to reduce latency.

Caching is a technology that increases the speed of your website without sacrificing anything in the process. When used correctly, it’ll not only result in significantly faster load times but also decrease the load on your server. If you aren’t already caching your web pages, get to it!

What does a browser cache do?

Every time a user loads a webpage, their browser has to download quite a lot of data to display that webpage. To shorten page load times, browsers cache most of the content that appears on the webpage, saving a copy of the webpage’s content on the device’s hard drive. This way, the next time the user loads the page, most of the content is already stored locally and the page will load much more quickly.

Browsers store these files until their time to live (TTL) expires or until the hard drive cache is full. (TTL is an indication of how long content should be cached.) Users can also clear their browser cache if desired.

Browsers cache Web objects on the user’s machine. A browser first looks for objects in its cache before requesting them from the website. Caching frequently used Web objects speeds up Web surfing. For example, I often use Rovamedia and Ehubber. If their logos and navigation bars are stored in my browser’s cache, then the browser will pick them up from the cache and will not have to get them from the respective websites. Getting the objects from the cache is much faster than getting them from the websites.

Types of Caching

Broadly speaking, there are two types of caches — server and browser. Browser caching is done on the client (user) side, while server caching is (unsurprisingly) done on the server. Let’s look at the differences between the two.

Browser Caching

When you visit a website, you don’t just need to retrieve the content of the page you’re seeing — you also need a bunch of resources such as Javascript files, stylesheets, fonts, and so on, which your browser downloads in addition to the content of the page.

Browser caching allows your browser to store these files for a while, so it doesn’t need to retrieve them every time you visit the site.

The first time you visit this site (WinningWP.com), for example, you’ll receive a bunch of resources that your browser will immediately cache. This first will likely take a few seconds to completely download, but the next time you visit you’ll notice a significant decrease in load time (as much as a second or more, in fact).

Server Caching

I’ve already talked about the mechanisms behind server caching: Instead of processing every request, the server takes the results of these requests and stores them. It then serves these saved results instead — making everything much faster.

You may have come across the terms ‘object cache’ and ‘full-page cache’. These are both server caching methods — the full page cache is what we’ve been talking about so far.

Object caches store only bits and pieces of data, as opposed to a full page. This can be useful within your code, and when storing the result of complex operations such as the generation of a navigation menu.

Facts About Page Load Time

When it comes to website load time, here are stats over time that prove that caching is a necessity.

  1. The first five seconds of page-load time have the highest impact on conversion rates. (Portent, 2019)
  2. By compressing images and text, 25% of pages could save more than 250KB and 10% can save more than 1MB (which contributes to page load times). (Google, 2018)
  3. The optimal average request count — the number of individual pieces of content needed to display the entire web page — is fewer than 50. (Google, 2018)
  4. Website conversion rates drop by an average of 2.11% with each additional second of load time (between seconds 0-9). (Portent, 2019)
  5. The highest ecommerce conversion rates occur on pages with load times between 0-2 seconds. (Portent, 2019)
  6. The probability of bounce increases 32% as page load time goes from 1 second to 3 seconds. (Google, 2017)
  7. As page load time goes from one second to 10 seconds, the probability of a mobile site visitor bouncing increases 123%. (Google, 2017)
  8. Of all the people surveyed, half said they’d be willing to give up animation and video for faster load times. (Unbounce, 2019)
  9. Nearly 70% of consumers admit that page speed impacts their willingness to buy from an online retailer. (Unbounce, 2019)
  10.  The average mobile web page takes 15.3 seconds to load. (Google Research, 2018)
  11. Any slow website, ecommerce or otherwise, will see an increase in bounce rate and a decrease in time on site. Even just a one second delay will: Reduce page views by 11%, Decrease customer satisfaction by 16% and Reduce conversions by 7%.
  12. In a 2018 study of US web traffic, mobile devices accounted for 58% of site visits and 42.3% of total time spent online. More people browse on smartphones than on desktops, even though the user experience is still better on the latter

Importance of Caching

Over the past decades of building and deploying awesome websites for individuals and businesses, the focal point you must understand is that having a cache makes it easy to swiftly retrieve data, which in turn helps your website run faster. It acts as a memory bank, making it easy to access data locally rather than re-downloading it every time you visit a website or open an application. And if you know this you’ll understand that your user’s experience must come first when deploying a website.

Here are some core importance of having a caching system on your website:

  1. Faster delivery of Web objects to the end-user: This is an esswnril aspect of having a web caching system. When you are able to serve images, videos and files to your end-users with speed, your website will not encounter hight bounce rates, and your pages are more likely to index on SERPs.
  2. Reduces bandwidth needs and cost: Hosting a website comes with costs and everyone knows it. When you are able to deploy a caching system to your website, you’ll observe the bandwidth need and drive will reduce, will also lead to reduction in the cost of bandwidth your website needs.
  3. Reduces load on the website servers: Loads on a server, especially if you are using a shared hositng will make your website give visitors the ‘504’ error. This makes your website to unresponsive to incoming requests. But having a caching system will reduce the need for reaching your sever, because the needed files requeted by visitors are stored as cache and can be served when called on.

Caching Support Systems

Normally, there are various caching support systems for websites, they are as follows:

  1. Clouldflare
  2. Redis: Used for database cache (free)
  3. Varnish: Used for Website cache
  4. Nginx: Used for reverse proxy server and http cache
  5. Memcached: Used for in memory database caching (free)
  6. LiteSpeed: Used for Server Level website Cache

For WordPress users:

  1. WP Fastest Cache: WordPress Cache plugin (free and paid)
  2. WP Rocket: WordPress Caching plugin (paid)
  3. W3 Total Cache: WordPress Cache and performance plugin

In Conclusion: Caching Matters

You can think of site speed as a sliding scale, where the faster sites reap the most benefits, and every second makes a difference. For example, pages that load within two seconds have an average bounce rate of 9%, while pages that load in five seconds see their bounce rates skyrocket to 38%. Even a one-second difference in loading time can have a huge impact on performance

The faster your website’s load time is, the happier your visitors will be. In other words — when you optimize your web page’s load time, you can expect to see improvements in user experience (UX), conversion rates, and ultimately, sales revenue.

The best practice is to get your website to load in less than two to three seconds, according to John Mueller, the Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google. However, ideally, your website should load as fast as possible. If you’re an eCommerce website, you should shoot for less than two seconds or you risk losing potential customers.

According to a study conducted by Google in 2017, as page load time goes from one second to three seconds, the probability of a bounce increases by 32%. It’s safe to say that these numbers may have increased in 2021. The longer your page takes to load, the more likely users will lose focus and interaction.

What does this mean? The faster a page loads, the better its user engagement.

Would you wait ten or more seconds for a page to load? With network speeds continually increasing, and countless web pages competing for users’ attention, not many people will have the patience to wait that long.

Furthermore, the same Google study discovered that website load time on mobile is even longer. On average, users waited a whopping 22 seconds for a page to load. This is a staggering number when you consider that the same study concluded that 53% of users abandon a page if its load time is longer than three seconds.

Therefore, the optimal website loading time on all devices should stay at three seconds or less.

So there you have it, site speed is important to your business, and you as a business owner should take it seriously. And if you ever need professional service in this regard, kindly see our website optimization services and request our professional support, it doesn’t matter if your contracted web developer and designer has left you hanging or not, we are all in to support your business.

Author

  • Uchechukwu Ajuzieogu is an Author, Blogger, Researcher, C-Digital Marketer, Entrepreneur, Contributor at Rova Media Digital, and Educationist with vast experience in technology applications. When he's not writing, he's with his dogs and plays Minecraft

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