Catalog Load Speeds and Why They’re Important

August 16, 2023

Do you know how well your current catalog is performing? If your institution is using a digital catalog, the load speed may provide some insight into your catalog’s accessibility, usage rates, and visibility online. While this may seem like an insignificant metric, load speeds can have several lasting implications for the success of your catalog.

Improving Accessibility

As we continue to make the higher education space more accessible for all, we cannot forget to extend this effort to our digital publications, as well. This can be a double-edged sword, as many integrations designed to improve a website’s accessibility may actually cause slower load speeds. These may include plug-ins to convert text-to-speech, larger photos and graphics, high contrast page designs, navigation features, and magnification options. Since site load speeds are equally important in providing an accessible catalog experience, it’s important to find a software provider that optimizes web speeds and accessibility features in tandem. Clean Catalog software, for example, does not sacrifice catalog load speeds to achieve top-notch accessibility, but has backend configurations so that both standards are met and surpassed.

Minimizing Bounce Rates

A bounce rate is the percentage of users who visit your catalog site, then immediately leave without clicking to other pages on your catalog. This rate is typically an accurate measure of a website’s success. What determines the bounce rate? A variety of factors, including the readability of the site, website design, UI/UX, ease of navigation, and website load speeds. Research has found that bounce rates increase significantly when a website’s load speed surpasses 400 milliseconds, or the blink of an eye. Essentially, first impressions go a long way in the success of your catalog. When your staff pours countless admin hours into creating content and managing your catalog site, it’s imperative that the site is successful and students are using it. Even further, today’s students are more tech-savvy and have higher standards for tech performance, including load speeds. Ensuring your site loads quickly is a basic step in setting your catalog up for success.

Boosting Your Catalog Site’s SEO

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, plays a key role in the visibility of your catalog online. Google and other similar search engines want to provide the most helpful, accurate results when a user makes a search online. For this reason, Google will rank low-performing websites lower on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP) than high-performing sites. How quickly your website loads will be a key determinant of this ranking. Since most modern students are researching potential schools online or turning to Google when they need to find summer course work at a local community college, SEO is becoming increasingly important for an institution’s growth. This is especially true of smaller community colleges, tech schools, and trade schools. Optimizing your catalog’s load speed will pave the way for climbing in search engine results.

Are you curious how well your current catalog site is performing online? Use Google’s free site load speed checker to get a quick pulse check. Clean Catalog load speeds are well under 1 second, and anything slower than 1 second will have a negative impact on your catalog. If you’d like to learn more about website load speeds and how they can affect your catalog, feel free to reach out to us.