Page load speed vs sustainability. Is there a correlation between them?

There are a wide variety of reasons for businesses to prioritize website speed. Whether your top priority is driving sales, maintaining brand prestige, or setting yourself apart from the pack, one of the first and most common ways for potential customers to engage with your organization is through your website. As such, high-quality performance in this area will play a key role in fulfilling your various objectives.

However, the loading speed of your website has an impact that goes beyond the realization of business goals. In fact, the impact of poor performance can go unseen. After all, how many people consider the connection between loading speed and energy consumption?

But make no mistake. The speed of your website has an impact on your sustainability practices. This occurs for multiple reasons, all of which should be taken into consideration when deciding how much to value loading speed. And considering the importance of sustainability and the fact that it will only become more critical over time, any contribution that a business can make in this regard has to be considered.

But in order to properly make adjustments, you’ll need to understand the connection between sustainability and website speed. Fortunately, we’re here to help! Let’s cover how loading speed contributes or impairs sustainability efforts and what a business can do about it.

How website speed relates to sustainability

This association between loading speed and energy efficiency is multi-faceted. Any time a website performs poorly, it can negatively impact sustainability in a variety of ways. As an exercise, let’s consider the example of an automotive website suffering from poor performance. When a user navigates to this site, what exactly are the potential ramifications of its slow loading speed?

At a basic level, slow-loading websites result in more energy consumption due to the greater time investment needed. This additional delay causes your audience to utilize devices for a longer period of time, demanding more power. So, right away, we can see how faster loading reduces the need for the energy required to engage online. But this increase in energy consumption goes beyond the duration of device use.

Loading on mobile devices

As we’ve already covered, poor website performance increases the time users spend on their devices. However, this is of particular importance when it comes to cell phones, tablets, and other mobile options. Because mobility typically goes hand in hand with smaller battery capacity, extended waiting times associated with the loading process contributes to draining these devices. As a result, your audience will then need to spend more time charging.

And keep in mind that the lesser power efficiency of many such mobile devices as compared to desktops and laptops will be a continuous issue. Every time a user attempts to load your website, they will drain their batteries once again. So, the negative impact of slow loading speeds will compound over time.

Now, it might seem as though the power consumption associated with loading a website might seem negligible. But consider the volume of users that interact with any given website. Take that excess power consumption, multiply it by the amount of traffic that engages with your business online. That is the actual sustainability impact of a slow website as it relates to mobile devices.

loading speed website

Additional server demand

One of the most universal drags on sustainable business practices across all industries is the operation of servers. This is especially true of physical servers, which come with a constant energy demand. The greater the demands placed on servers, the more their excessive consumption will add to your carbon footprint.

Slow-loading websites extend this interaction, thereby lengthening periods of high energy demands. As the server works harder to complete the request and enable users to see and interact with the site, it requires higher levels of power. So, when the loading process becomes excessive, the associated energy requirements will grow accordingly.

User dissatisfaction

Now, the primary concern related to loading times is nearly always the quality of the customer experience. Slow websites struggle to keep users around as frustration mounts. Inevitably, poor performance will drive potential customers elsewhere, resulting in another attempt to load a website and expanding their energy consumption.

For the time being, let’s assume that your business has done everything it can to operate its website sustainably. For the sake of argument, we can even say that the extended delays on your site will have a minimal impact, if any at all. However, your intended audience doesn’t know your sustainable practices. And even if they do, this will only go so far to balance out frustration related to excessive waiting times.

So, when those customers inevitably head over to other websites, how likely is it that those other organizations have achieved an identical level of sustainability? If a user navigates elsewhere, they will duplicate the energy requirements related to loading. And they might end up clicking on another slow website that has a larger carbon footprint. In this way, one lagging online journey leads to additional energy consumption that goes beyond its own footprint.

Sustainability and search engine rankings

While to this point we’ve focused largely on the impact that long loading times have on sustainability, it’s also important to consider how it impacts the success of your online presence.

Loading speed is one of the many factors that determine search engine rankings. This takes place on multiple levels, as lower user satisfaction leads directly to a higher bounce rate. Coupled with the fact that performance directly contributes to search results, poor performance spells double trouble.

As such, sustainable practices can directly improve the success rate of your digital platforms. Reducing loading times contributes both to your business objectives and climate-conscious practices. So, prioritization in this area can have a surprisingly outsized impact, driving more users to your website while simultaneously reducing the carbon footprint associated with that traffic.

We assisted in improving the page speed of Land Rover and Jaguar.

Addressing slow websites

Having established the effects, both positive and negative, that website performance can have on sustainable practices, it’s time to turn our attention to the solution. If we can agree that loading times are worthy of prioritization and investment, then how exactly should we take action?

There are a variety of strategies and options that can improve the performance of your website. However, the most consistently impactful and relevant option remains implementing a content delivery network (CDN). These platforms distribute digital content across multiple servers. This reduces the strain related to load requests and ensures that websites become available for users much faster.

So, among their other benefits, CDNs contribute directly to sustainable business practices while simultaneously improving the performance of websites.

Operating more sustainably for the future

Carbon consumption might not be one of the most prevalent considerations related to website performance, but it’s an essential topic. As sustainability only becomes more valuable, taking action on this front will have an outsized contribution to success.

Finally, consider using this as a final argument to get key stakeholders on board when it comes to securing budget and buy-in.

There are many reasons to emphasize loading speed when optimizing your website. Make sure to add sustainability to that list and align your online presence with business objectives while simultaneously doing your part to contribute to critical efforts that transcend industry or region.

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