Website speed begins with the designer, not the developer

Website speed begins with the designer

Want to convert website visitors into customers? The speed that a website loads will have a huge impact on customer conversion.

If your website loading speed is slower than a herd of turtles, then it’s generally down to a web developer to deal with. This isn’t fair.

It’s not only the job of developers to speed up the web. Website speed begins with web designers.

It’s time designers stepped up and joined the revolution to accelerate page loading speed.

I should add here that I am both a web designer and web developer, so I see things from both sides of the fence.

But how can a designer affect page load speed (I hear you ask)?

Being at the end of the website food chain means that web developers have to build to the design and can be constrained to how and what they develop.

For example, if a designer hands a developer a page which is packed full of complex textures, large images and millions of tiny little intricacies, the developer has no choice but to write a tomb of code (more than is necessary) to fulfil the needs of the design.

Lighten up

To alleviate the developers pain points and lighten up the code a great design approach is to review (honestly and objectively) and ask yourself “would the design be better without this, that and the other?”

Strip away unnecessary design flourishes, but ensure the look and feel plus user experience still remains in tact.

Perfection is achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Be prepared with content

Get hold of website content early to ensure you’re designing with the images, copy, videos, etc.

Try not to design before getting at least some content, otherwise you’ll be merrily adding in “Lorem Ipsum” and random images that you may not necessarily need.

Design mobile first

Designing ‘mobile first’ reduces the amount of space you have on the screen, so the temptation to add all those extra “designy” bits disappears.

“In the U.S., 25% of mobile Web users are mobile-only (they rarely use a desktop to access the web)”

– by Joshua Johnson on Design Shack in 2013

If you want more about the “mobile first” approach, read more here ‘Mobile First Design: Why It’s Great and Why It Sucks

Collaborate with your fellow developers

Historically designers and developers hate each other. Ok, maybe hate’s a strong word, but lets be honest, sometimes designers and developers just don’t get on.

Designers can be frustrated with developers because their coding doesn’t match the design to the exact pixel and developers despise designers because they’ve had to work all day, going back and forth with their code to craft an intricate interface.

It’s time to change. Designers! Get to know thy fellow developer and show them the designs as early as possible. They may have some magic development wisdom they can throw your way to improve the design.

And the other advantage will be that this collaborative approach makes for a better relationship and a much better (and faster) website.

Don’t leave content consideration to the developer

For example — the mobile version of a website is left to the developers discretion (more often than not).

This means that everything the developer’s just coded for the desktop site, appears on the mobile version. So if the same amount of content that’s on a desktop site, appears on the mobile site, then the mobile site is going to load slower than it potentially should.

It’s the designers responsibility to decide which content should appear and where. So consider which and what content is absolutely necessary for any given user on any given device.


Ok, cards on the table — when I’ve designed websites (in the past), I’ve been guilty of leaving the responsibility of website page speed to the developer. But not anymore.

It’s time to change and follow these rules:

  • Simplify and lighten up your design
  • Be prepared, get content early
  • Design mobile first
  • Work collaboratively, get intimate with your developer
  • Consider more and be more responsible with your design choices


KISSmetrics created a great infographic titled how loading speed affects your bottom line