While design choices are influenced by subjective decisions of preference and taste, a lot of the interaction a visitor to your Joomla! web site is determined by how such elements are delivered to the browser—for instance, the loading speed of your page.
Though you may not realize it, the first experience that visitors have with any web site is… waiting! When visitors click on a link, or type in a URL, they must wait for the page to load in their browser. If they are kept waiting for too long they will either abandon the web site and look elsewhere, or will raise their expectations—and possibly be disappointed when the web site finally loads. For web builders and webmasters, it's a top priority to keep loading time minimal. But how do templates impact your web site's load speed?
How Browsers download a page
Minify & Compress: your visitors will reward you
Does this make any difference? Not in your search rankings: the effect of page load time in that area is negligible. But it makes all the difference to your users! If your site loads in just five seconds on an average connection and a competitor's website takes 10 seconds or more to load, visitors will prefer your site because “it feels faster”. Fast-loading pages also encourage visitors to delve more deeply into your content and spend more time on your website, learning more about what you offer in the process. Your template thus has very big impact on the visitor's experience.
The next time you choose template for your web site, make these factors part of your evaluation. You may find that a simple but fast-loading template fits your needs, while a template that is very feature-packed will result in your visitors unhappy with long page loads speeds. When selecting a template, remember: beauty is more skin deep.
We've barely scratched the surface with this article. If you’re interested in learning more about the differences between an underperforming web sites and a blazing fast one, a good place to start is Yahoo! Developer Network's “Best practices for speeding up your web site”.
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