Guide When Dealing With Client's Slow Website
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August 24, 2021

Agency Resources 4 min read

How to Respond When Clients Say Their Websites are Slow

It’s up there with web agencies least favourite things.

You spend a significant time and effort designing an epic website, ensuring it meets all the client’s requirements with great functionality and sleek design.

Then, you just hear the client’s feedback: “It’s running slow”.

Great, nothing about how mobile-friendly it is? Not interested in the intuitive layout and navigation?  

So, how do you respond to this?  

You have to respond in a way that proves you did your due diligence. The problem is there are a whole host of factors that could be causing the site to run slow, and some of them have nothing to do with your work. Also, changes require investing significant resources, possibly risking your agency’s profit on the project. 

Before that happens, know this step-by-step guide on how you can deal with the issue without the risk of losing your customers and damaging your reputation.

5 Steps to Take When Dealing with a Client's Slow Website

Recognise the complaint

Recognise the complaint_problem

It’s essential to understand the client’s side of the situation. In the current online climate, you cannot understate the importance of website speed. Poor loading performance is not a minor inconvenience for visitors; it has considerable effects on whether the site is a success or not. 

Research has shown that visitors don’t look kindly on sites that are slow to load: 

  • 1 in 4 visitors will completely abandon a site that takes more than 4 seconds to load. 
  • 46% of users won’t return to a website if it performs poorly. 
  • A 1-second delay causes a 16% reduction in customer satisfaction. 

On top of this, a website’s speed and performance impact your SEO. It plays an important role in your search engine rankings and more people finding your website. Last year Google announced three core web vitals that measure website loading speed, responsiveness, and visual stability. These metrics help make up Google’s page experience score for a site, affecting how it’s ranked. 

Having a fast website is an important factor for clients when choosing a web design agency. So, it’s reasonable for them to worry and come to you for a fix. 

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Troubleshoot the problem

The key to your response to the client will lie in understanding the cause of the problem.  

Hopefully, you are working for a client with some tech know-how, and they can provide you with more details than “it is slow”. 

You’ll probably receive something like a Google PageSpeed result or an equivalent. This gives you a benchmark to recreate and compare to post site changes. 

With so many factors affecting a website’s performance, it can be challenging to pinpoint where the problem is coming from. Thankfully, developers have a range of tools available to help, including Pingdom, Chrome developer tools, Google PageSpeed Insights, and GT Metrix. 

Here are some of the common causes for slow websites: 

  • Unoptimised images 
  • JavaScript issues 
  • Bulky flash content 
  • Absence of a Content Delivery Network (CDN) 
  • Unoptimised CSS
  • Poor web hosting 

Keep your client aware

Inform your client

Explain the findings from your troubleshooting to your client along with suggestions for further actions. Whilst drafting your response, keep in mind that they aren’t masters of the field. Use simple terminologies while providing all the pertinent information. 

If you have exhausted all of the on-page optimisations available and it is still running slow, the site may have a hard cap on its page speed. Communicating the trade-off between site features and loading times to clients is not always easy. Their vision for the site may have to reduce in scope if they insist on faster performance. But still, don’t fail to inform and become transparent. 

Provide recommended fixes

Provide recommended fixes

When you have done all you can from your end, from optimising the site’s code to fixing the content, there are still fixes you can recommend to your client. 

These include: 

  • Using a paid optimisation plugin. For example, if the site is built with WordPress, there are a range of optimisation plugins that can improve the site’s speed and even offer other advantages such as saving server space. 
  • Reduce external scripts. The client may have to remove some functionality, such as chat or ads, and the external scripts required to run them. 

But the most straightforward fix is finding a better web host, which leads us to the next one. 

Recommend a hosting upgrade

web hosting upgrade

It can be incredibly frustrating when you make a great website, and the client hands it over to a lousy web host. As a result, you’ve had to do more troubleshooting and finding innovative ways to optimise the site when the simplest solution is just upgrading your web hosting. Since you have the technical know-how, make sure to explain this to your clients and how their hosting affects their web performance.

You may also want to recommend a web host upgrade to your client. You can advise them on the baseline resources they need from their web host in terms of bandwidth and RAM that meet their site requirements. Recommend SSD storage and even the possibility of a dedicated or Virtual Private Server (VPS). 

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READ: 5 Benefits of Hosting Your Web Design Clients 

Make more happy customers and eventually — sales 

Clients spend time and effort deciding how to choose a web design agency. It can be exhausting having to go spend another time and effort asking for help for speed improvements. 

Ease their worries by providing a smooth and strategic process in dealing with their site speed problems. You can always refer back to these five quick steps.

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