For the past ten years, functional features, reliability, ease of use and good design have won top spot for websites on the Web. Lurking in the background has been speed of operation. But in 2010 Google made it official and speed was added to the ranking of websites. This was followed in 2015 with the ranking of websites now including responsive websites and then in 2017 higher rankings for websites that are SSL encrypted. Google’s test of web performance includes several measures on these factors.
But websites owners have not had to wait for Google’s pronouncements, they have discovered in the marketplace that mobile-ready responsiveness and speed are vital to their success on the Web.
- page load time > 5 seconds leads to page abandonment and 46% never returns more
- for each 100ms speed improvement, Amazon sees 1% increase in revenues more
- 1/3rd of all Xmas purchases were made on a mobile phone more
- Shopzilla load-speed improvement from 6 to 1.22 sec shows 12% better sales more
- 78% of local searches on mobile phones resulted in a purchase more
- a 2.2 second drop in load time resulted 60Million more Firefox downloads more
- 48% of mobile users reject websites that don’t provide effective mobile UI more
Searchmetrics, which ranks many measures of website’s effectiveness each year, sees the following order of importance for 2017:
1) Content is still king with readability, design and keyword use the critical factors;
2) User experience with responsive design and use of images the next key factors;
3) Site speed dominates the technical criteria;
4) Backlinks with referring domains still ranks as an important factor in site success
5) Social media connections is the fifth, “bonus” factor.
Other Performance Measures
The WordPress.com Factor
WordPress.com, the online version of WordPress that provides free hosting but premium themes, domain name and other services; has a market valuation of about $1.16B, 321 employees, and in 2014 obtained $160M in financing. WordPress.com is a growing business whose revenues were $45M in 2012 but are hard to pin down more recently.
But WordPress.com has some serious competition in its self-hosted Web Building marketplace which is its primary source of revenue. In rankings of the top 10 Website Builders WordPress.com does not even show up. Rather vendors like Wix, Weebly, Webydo, Squarespace, and others dominate the rankings. Their advantage is easy to use, interactive, drag-and-drop Website design systems. WordPress,com simply does not have such website building tools.
Users of WordPress.com have to switch to a hosted version of WordPress and use some of the excellent Website Design plugins available there. In addition the competing Website Builder have pre-built templates offering many of the UI components featured in WordPress like sliders, gallery grids, widgets, etc. Even major hosting services like BlueHost, Godaddy, HostGator, WPengine and others are offering premium WordPress support services often featuring very good Website Builders.