Jule-intervju med Arnout Hellemans

Atle Egenes

Arnout Hellemans var en av årets foredragsholdere på Conversion Jam i Stockholm med foredraget «Hvorfor nettstedets hastighet er dårlig – og hva du skal gjøre med det».

Vi tok en rask juleprat med Arnout på telefon fra skiferie i Val Gardena. 👇

PS: Vi beholder selve intervjuet på engelsk.

What are the most common mistakes businesses make when attempting to optimize website speed, and how can these be avoided?

Unnecessary use of Javascript. So how can this be avoided? One thing is setting new standards. You can set a threshold for every instance on your website. So each instance cant be larger than a certain threshold.

And look at simple things, for instance image size. And look at tracking tools, which often are not in use. They record everything – but they never look at them, so whats the use?

What strategies do you recommend for identifying and addressing bottlenecks that slow down a website’s speed?

Chrome developer tools and the Performance Insight tab is helpful but there are a lot of tools out there.

So you have your findings from different tools and approach the developers. They looks at you funny and state that this is not relevant for our site because of (some technical argument). What do you do?

You can dig in deeper and for instance use a tool like Sitebulb. This will run through every instance of the website and you can dive deep into the data. It is hard to argue against that.

How do you balance the demand for rich visual experiences on a website with the need for fast loading times?

This is a difficult one. It´s a discussion that is hard to win and often difficult in any case or business. But you have to ask yourselves: Do I really need this element? For instance sliders. How much value does it add? Often it results in lower conversion rates.

What role does mobile optimization play in speeding up websites, and what are some best practices in this area?

Well I see this as a whole, dependent on your set up of course. But you first need to look at who is your audience and where is your audience. If your audience is first and foremost mobile then you need to focus your effort there. Another thing that people needs to understand is that scripts have the biggest impact on mobile devices. I guess the impact is not so high in Norway, but if you go to other countries in Africa and South America mobile devices have lower end processors so it has way bigger impact if you havent optimized.

What are the most underrated techniques or methods to improve a website’s speed?

Using a CDN. If you use tools like Cloudflare, even for small companies there are free versions that works well. And it will automate a lof of things. It will minify CSS and javascript and a lot of other things basically out of the box. And if you use it together with things like Lightspeed which is a speed optimization plug in for WordPress. And if you install that it will do everything for free if you are a smaller site and around 100 euros if you have a larger site. My point is that these kind of things are not new and it can be done relatively cheap.

For most websites if you run it over Cloudflare you can get at least 30-40% percent out of the box site optimization.

How can smaller companies with limited resources prioritize actions to improve their website’s speed?

I think a lot can be done with a CDN, and it has a lot to do with things you can influence yourselves. For instance optimize image sizes and those kind of things because smaller companies are not going to start changing CSS or javascript-files. But even for smaller companies CDN is important. I often get into discussions with smaller companies where they say that they dont need a CDN because they are not international. But a CDN is very useful even if you are in one country only. Because your browser will simultanesly connect to multiple sources so it will speed everything up.

What methods or tools do you recommend for continuous monitoring and maintenance of a website’s speed after optimization is implemented?

CrUX Dashboard is helpful. For smaller websites it wont work. For larger websites it will, because you need at least 400 pageviews of chrome users that share the data per month. So if it is smaller than that you will not find it in there. But it is a great way and it will also help you benchmark against competitors because it is a public dataset.

You can use tools that do this, for instance SpeedCurve, GTMetrix (paid version), you can start pushing your data into GA4. There is lots of solutions out there.

In bigger companies you can work with perfomance budgets which is pretty awesome because you can set thresholds for every element wether its javascript, CSS or something else. And based on that you can basically set your limit size for CSS to 100 kb or image size per page to 200 kb max. And if you exceede these limits then you are alerted.

You can build these performance budgets into your A/B tests and lots of other things.

Is there anything you want to add?

I think what people needs to understand is that it is almost mandatory to fix your website, because there is also the environmental impact. And you can measure your own impact by using the website carbon calculator.

The other part is that this is housekeeping. Just make sure you have your stuff in order.

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