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Optimise Website Speed: 7 Methods Using Performance Tests and Improvement Practices

Optimise Website Speed: Using Performance Tests

You have to optimise website speed if you want to succeed in the highly-competitive world of online businesses. The majority of internet users are impatient. A sluggish website frustrates your traffic such that they leave for better alternatives, which results in reduced revenue. Even worse, a slow loading website tarnishes the reputation of your brand.

On the other hand, people like fast websites. By reducing the page load time, you increase the time people spend on your site, which encourages more conversions and boosts your revenue. Google also loves fast sites, meaning that you will rank higher on SERPs — any expert in web design will be able to tell you that.

How Measure Website Speed

Before you optimise website speed, you need to conduct tests to ascertain the reasons behind the slow speeds.  You should then use the findings to set performance goals.

According to Google, your website should load within two seconds – anything slower is likely to disappoint visitors and increase your bounce rates. With only a few websites meeting this standard, you can capitalise on this opportunity if you increase website speed.

The best way of measuring the performance of your website is by using tools such as Pingdom, GTmetrix, Google PageSpeed Insights, YSlow, and so on. These tools will also show you what is slowing down your site, as well as how to improve the speeds.

How to Optimise Website Speed

Once you establish your website speed and what affects it, the next step is optimisation.

Here are the strategies you should implement if you want to increase site speed.

  • Solve 404 Errors

Nothing is as frustrating as clicking on a link that returns a 404 error. Such incidences significantly hurt the user experience on your website.

From a website owner’s perspective, 404 error pages slow down a website because they take up space without offering value to the audience. Too many broken links can also be detrimental to your efforts to rank high on search results.

The best solution to this challenge is removing the 404 error pages. Alternatively, you can create a 301 redirect, which redirects any person who clicks on the broken link to another page within your website. If your 404 error pages are getting a lot of traffic, it is better to use the second approach to avoid losing them.

  • Implement Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Another way to optimise website speed is by implementing accelerated mobile pages. AMPs render stripped-down versions of your web pages such that the user gets the most critical information.  They improve website speed by removing images, videos and any visual content that slows down the site loading speed. 

The only problem with AMPs is that they can limit the functionality of websites that rely heavily on visual content, such as eCommerce websites. They are ideal for blogs and informational websites.

  • Use Website Caching

Sometimes, a website loads slowly if many people try to access it at once. The reason for this is that the web servers are overwhelmed by the high number of requests.

The solution to this problem is caching, where you store the current version of your website on the host server until the next update.  When you cache your website, it does not render or send requests to the central server every time a user tries to access it.

The approach you use for website caching depends on the platform on which your website runs. If your site is built on WordPress, it is as easy as installing a plugin. If you use VPS or dedicated hosting, you can find the caching option in the settings. Caching is usually unavailable if you are using a shared hosting server.

  • Optimise Images

Image optimisation is critical if you want to improve load time. Users are likely to leave your site if images take too much time to load.

The best way of optimising images is by uploading the smallest possible version of the picture. For example, if your page width is 500 pixels, your images should not exceed that figure.

However, you should make sure that the images you use are not too small. When zoomed, small images appear blurred and pixelated, which hurts the reputation of your website. Before you upload an image, test it to confirm that it displays correctly on all screen sizes.

  • Use Prefetching Techniques

Prefetching involves reading and executing instructions before a user initiates them. This popular technique is useful if you are looking to increase website speed.

It works by anticipating what a user will do on your website and executing them in advance. For example, if your audience likes to click on a particular button, it will load first every time they visit the site.

Most browsers support prefetching by default because they keep a log of the actions taken by users. However, user experience experts are more equipped to understand user behaviour and implement prefetching more effectively.

There are three types of prefetching – DNS prefetching, link prefetching, and pre-rendering.

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    • DNS prefetching allows the browser to change domain names into IP addresses quickly.
    • Link prefetching is useful where you are sure that a user will take a specific action, such as clicking on the checkout button.   For example, if a visitor adds an item to the shopping cart, your site can prefetch a link prompting them to confirm the order.
    • Pre-rendering is a technique where a website displays some of the elements of a webpage in advance.

If you want to optimise website speed by prefetching, you need to understand the actions of your audience.

  • Minification

Reducing the number of requests made by clients to web servers is an excellent way to optimise website speed. You should always look to remove all unnecessary HTML, CSS and JavaScript elements from your website.

Minification is particularly useful for inline JavaScript and external files that are not cached.  According to Google, you should minify all JavaScript elements that exceed 4096 bytes (4 kB) in size. If you want to improve load time, you should reduce the size by at least 25 bytes.

  • Database Optimisation

If you want to increase site speed, you should consider optimising your database.  A website that uses a content management system with several plugins has a massive database, which results in slower loading speeds.

For example, WordPress keeps a record of comments, blog posts and other files that take up huge chunks of your database storage. It is worth noting that every CMS has its unique optimisation configuration. With WordPress, you only have to install a plugin to optimise your database.


Why You Should Optimise Website Speed?

Why Page Speed is the Key to Your Website Speed Optimization

Most businesses build websites to increase brand awareness and generate money. Regardless of the objective, you need to get traffic to your site.

Here are the reasons why you should optimise website speed.

  • Conversions

A conversion occurs when a visitor on your website completes a desired action. For example, if you have an eCommerce website, every purchase counts as a conversion. If you sell a service, every subscription is a conversion.

A fast website is more likely to get conversions than a slow site. According to HubSpot, a one-second delay can hurt conversions rates by up to 7%.

  • Visibility

The load time of your website affects the visibility of your website online, especially in search results. Page speed is one of the critical factors used by Google and other search engines when ranking sites in search results.

A slow website provides a poor user experience, which means a lower ranking on search results. On the other hand, a fast website offers optimal user experience, and Google rewards it by ranking it on the first page of search results.

  • Usability

Usability refers to the ease of use of a product. In the case of a website, it should be easy to navigate so that users find anything they want quickly.

If you fail to optimise website speed, some elements will take longer to load than others. For instance, the background image of your site may load gradually, especially on devices with limited processing power.  If this happens to the navigation bar or the search bar, it hurts the usability since users cannot find what they are after quickly.

A slow-loading webpage leaves the impression that the entire site is slow. If you want to avoid frustrating visitors and reduce your bounce rate, you need to find ways to improve load time.


Tips That Can Help You Improve Your Site’s Load Speeds

Slow-loading websites often have low conversion rates, thus the need to increase website load speed. Internet users prefer fast loading sites, which are also easier to navigate. A recent market survey established that 47% of Internet users expect sites that they visit to load in less than 2 seconds. This indicates that users have little patience for sites that have poor load speeds.

If you run a business website in Singapore, you could be losing out on many opportunities just because your web pages load slowly. 64% of online shoppers are likely to consider other e-stores if they get dissatisfied with your site’s loading time.

You risk losing both your current clients and prospective customers who are referred to your site if it has slow loading speeds. As insignificant as those extra seconds may appear, they play a crucial role when it comes to optimizing your files and images. No one will stick around on your site if your pages load slowly. Here are little-known tips that can help you improve your site’s load speeds.

  • Use Simple Website Designs

Often, website owners think that intricate designs and features are the main attraction points on their sites. To some extent, this is true. Nonetheless, that complex web design could be slowing down your website, thus limiting its potential.

To increase website load speed, you should only use simple website designs. By simplifying your site’s design, you will significantly reduce load times. There will be fewer HTTP requests needed by the site to load. Typically, HTTP requests are made for each element of your website. This includes CSS, image files, and JavaScript.

When you decrease the number of elements, the number of HTTP requests made will go down. Consequently, load times will reduce. Similarly, simple designs have an added advantage in the sense that they improve the user experience, especially on e-commerce sites. Websites that feature simple designs are often rated higher than those that have visually complex designs.

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When shoppers land on e-commerce sites that are visually complex, they often find it hard to locate the information that they are looking for. As a result, they are likely to get frustrated and find websites that offer similar products or services. A simple design lowers load times, thus enabling visitors to navigate your site more effectively.

  • Use an External Hosting Platform to Increase Website Load Speed

Your website’s files are hosted on a content delivery network (CDN). This is a geographically-distributed network of servers that work symphonically to ensure that Internet content is delivered to you whenever you need it. A CDN ensures the quick transfer of assets that are necessary for the fast loading of Internet content including JavaScript files, HTML pages, images, and stylesheets.

If you have large files, your website’s CDN is likely to get overwhelmed. This can negatively affect the site’s performance. For this reason, you should use external hosting platforms other than your CDN to host some of your website’s large files.

Videos, in particular, should be hosted on external platforms since they take up too much space. If you want to add video tutorials to your website, you will need to create, edit, and export video files. You may want to upload the video files directly to your website via an FTP.

However, this isn’t advisable bearing in mind that if videos are hosted on your servers, they take up a lot of space. Your website’s video files can take up to more than 100MB of server space. In case you use shared servers, your space will be limited since the videos will take up most of your quota.

Uploading large video files onto your hosting providers will lead to a poor user experience. When multiple visitors try watching a particular video on your website at the same time, the server will have to provide the huge video file to them at once. If the server has a limited bandwidth amount, the users will experience pauses in playback as well as lags.

Watching videos that take too long to load even when Internet connectivity is excellent can be a frustrating experience. To avoid this situation on your website, consider using third-party services such as YouTube and Vimeo to host your videos. After that, embed the videos on your site. This will significantly save space, thus leading to an increase in website load speed.

  • Proper Structuring of Website Content

Content is among the most significant components of your website. The site could be experiencing slow loading simply because your content is not well-structured. Therefore, you should find a way of structuring, labelling, and organizing your website’s content.

Generally, images and other forms of multimedia take longer to load compared to ordinary text. Reducing the number of media files helps to increase website load speed. Even as you think about reducing the number of images on your site to minimize loading time, there several considerations that you must keep in mind.

You should ask yourself whether it makes sense to have images in the place of ordinary text. Do they add any value to your site? Bearing in mind the goal of individual pages on your website, you will be able to reduce the number of images and multimedia files as needed.

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When you focus on your website’s information architecture, you will end up with a better-structured site design. This will go a long way in speeding up your website, thus optimizing the browsing experience of visitors. Besides this, your site is likely to have a better ranking on the SERPs.

  • Upgrade Your Host

When you initially created your website, you may have had budgetary constraints that force you to choose the cheapest hosting package. Back then, the hosting package that you picked may have been your most viable option. As your business and the number of site visitors grow, you should update your hosting package.

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When you use a cheap hosting package, it means that your website is sharing a server with other sites. Therefore, the server loads not only your web pages but also the web pages of other websites. If websites that are hosted on a server attract significant traffic, it means that the loading speeds of all the sites will get compromised.

Worse still, your site can be grounded to a halt altogether. To ensure that your website remains speedy, consider choosing host packages that not only offer dedicated servers but also prioritize speed. This will help ensure that your web pages load fast besides increasing the site’s navigability.

  • Cache Your Site

When someone visits your website for the first time, he/she will need to download every aspect of your web pages. This includes menus, text, and logos. During their subsequent visits, there’s no need to force visitors to reload everything again.

To achieve this, you can use caching plugins to ensure that your content gets saved on visitors’ browsers. This way, the content will load without lags when they make subsequent visits to your website. By caching your site, you decrease the amount of content that requires loading from your server, thus speeding up your website.

Cache plugins work by storing content on visitors’ browsers. Consequently, your website will load faster during subsequent visits. When someone who previously visited your site makes a subsequent visit, the cached version of your content will be displayed unless there has been a change since the content was last cached.

The browser will save a lot of requests that would otherwise be made to your server. Therefore, load speeds on your site will significantly improve. This translates to a marked improvement in the browsing experience of your visitors.

  • Replace Images with CSS

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) enable you to differentiate the way content on your site look from what it means. Often, website owners prefer large and high-quality images on their sites to enhance their aesthetic appeal. Nonetheless, this comes at a cost since those high-quality images take too long to load on users’ devices.

If you run a photography or e-commerce site, you will want it to have colourful and high-quality images depicting what you offer. On their part, customers wish to land on a website that not only displays impressive photos but is also responsive and loads fast.

When caught up in such a situation, it won’t be sensible to sacrifice image quality to improve the loading times of your web pages. Likewise, it won’t make sense if you choose to stick with high-quality images at the expense of your website’s loading time and user experience.

With a cascading style sheet, your images will look good, while your web pages will also load faster. A CSS helps you create high-quality visuals, which replace images that would have otherwise taken up too much storage space. This will guarantee faster loading times as well as better performance on your website.

When using CSS, it is advisable that you minimize your style sheets’ size as much as possible. With fewer style sheets, it will be easy to load your pages. If you still prefer having some images on your site alongside visuals created using CSS, ensure that you only work with images that have the right format.

  • Optimize Your Site for Mobile

When building a website for your Singapore-based business, you must bear in mind the fact that a significant percentage of site visitors use mobile devices. Rather than only focusing on optimizing the website for PC, you also need to optimize it for mobile. A website that is designed for PC will take a long to load on mobile devices.

On the flip side, a website that is designed for mobile will take a shorter time to load on a PC. Averagely, it takes 22 seconds to load mobile landing pages. However, the reality is that more than 50% of mobile website visitors leave pages that take more than 3 seconds to load.

Rather than trying to optimize your website for PC, you should focus on mobile users. There are dozens of plugins that can help you make your site more mobile-friendly. Similarly, tools such as Duda Mobile can help you convert your desktop site into a mobile site. Better still, you can design a separate website to ensure that your mobile users have the best browsing experience without lags.

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To increase website load speed, web designers in Singapore are increasingly offering simplified versions of the sites that they create. They leverage resources such as the Accelerated Mobile Pages project to achieve this. Using AMP pages can help improve the loading speeds of your web pages on mobile browsers.

When using AMP, there are stringent guidelines for CSS and JavaScript. Nevertheless, the benefits are incredible. Whichever option you choose to optimize your website for mobile users, you should always ensure that your mobile site is lightweight. Similarly, try staying below the recommended threshold of 0.5MB per page.

  • Avoid Loading Scripts Unnecessarily

Does loading unnecessary JavaScript files slow down your website?

Yes, it does.

By letting users load JavaScript files that are unnecessary during that particular browsing session, your site will significantly slow down. In this regard, you should avoid loading scripts whose source is third-party servers. Requesting such scripts will not only slow down your pages but also poses a security risk to your website.

If possible, keep the scripts on your site’s server. Similarly, get rid of unused plugins since they are likely to limit the functionality of your website. The presence of many plugins bloats your website, thus making it load slowly. When users browse your pages, many plugins including those that are not needed will load. This significantly reduces loading speed.

During this Covid-19 pandemic, every person who works from home needs a fast running website so the best way to achieve that is to have good hosting which our guide simplifies in a way to easily help give all the necessary info about them! You can check it out here – https://hostingfacts.com


Conclusion

When you optimise website speed, you ensure that the traffic to your site gets the optimal user experience. Google always favours sites that have an excellent UX, meaning that you are likely to rank in search results as well.

Another benefit of a fast website is that it increases the chances of converting customers. Consumers have a short attention span, and a fast loading site gives them reasons to stay on and browse for products.

If you want to boost your page speeds, you need to employ the approaches mentioned on this list. Remember to test your site beforehand so that you identify the bottlenecks. Similarly, you should test the website after implementing the strategies to confirm that they are working. 

Get in touch for more tips more website design tips and services in Singapore. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Website Speed

Many website owners neglect the importance of page speed. As page speed increases, conversions and sales increase. Website owners cut costs by eliminating this feature when they design their site. They only think of the long-term benefits of making their site faster.

And despite readers coming to your website with high-speed Internet, the quality of your web pages is failing to match that of print media. This article won’t be short of teaching you what you need to know about website speed and why that is important.

Why is the Website Speed Important?

According to a study by Google and SOASTA, 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load. But what are the effects of users leaving your website immediately?

The importance of website speed is not just limited to conversion rates either. It also impacts your ranking within search engine results pages (SERPs). Search engines like Google use numerous factors when determining where your site appears within their SERPs.

 Typically, these factors relate to how easily web crawlers can navigate your website and how relevant the information presented on each page is for user queries. Since 2010, Google has also included website speed as one of its signals when determining where to rank sites within SERPs. It means that the website’s traffic determines the running on the first page of the search engines.

What Determines the Website Speed?

Several factors can harm the speed of your website. Here are three significant factors:

Content: The content of your website affects its rate. It is especially true for images, which considerably slow down the loading time.
Themes: Your theme can also affect the speed of loading your website. If it’s poorly coded or has too many features, it will make your site load slower. Many premium themes come with unnecessary features and plugins that you don’t need to convince you to buy, but they will only slow down your site in the long run.
Plugins: Many plugins can also slow down your website if they aren’t properly coded. They can create issues with database queries and increase the load time significantly. It’s always a good idea to keep the number of plugins you have installed at a minimum and get rid of those you don’t use or need anymore.

What is the Most Important Area of Website Speed?

There are plenty of solutions out there for speeding up your website.
The main areas of focus for website speed optimization are:
1. The user experience. That’s the most important one and, often, most important. User experience is affected by page load time, mobile user-friendliness, and visual appeal.
2. Search engine optimization. SEO depends on more than just site speed, but also it does depend on it to some degree. Google started using page speed as a ranking factor for mobile searches, which means it will likely become a factor for desktop in the future, so if you want to rank high in search engines, you need to be conscious of how fast your site loads and how user-friendly it is.
3. Optimization of conversion rates. The faster your site loads and your user experience, the better your conversion rates. Whether you’re an eCommerce store or a B2B company, if people can not get what they want from you quickly and easily, they’ll leave and find someone else who can offer that to them instead.

How Fast Should a Website Load?

At its most basic, a website is a file containing text written in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). The HTML tells the browser how to display the content on the screen. The file also includes links to other files like images, CSS files, and JavaScript files that provide styling and functionality to the page.

These files are usually stored on a web server from where they are retrieved by browsers when requested by visitors.

 The time taken for the whole process depends on many factors, including server response time, network connection speed, and browser rendering engine speed.

Why is Evaluating a Page Important?

When something is assessed, all aspects are considered and measured. The evaluation page is used to get an idea of your customers and their needs. There are two main ways to evaluate a web page: qualitative and quantitative testing.

Qualitative Testing
Qualitative testing typically involves observing users as they interact with your website. Qualitative testing is done through focus groups, interviews, or usability tests. Qualitative testing aims to understand why users interact with the site in specific ways, whether they struggle with tasks or their first impressions of the site.

Quantitative Testing
Quantitative testing generally involves collecting large sets of data that are analysed statistically. Quantitative data is collected from server logs that record user behaviour, surveys, or questionnaires on your site. The goal of quantitative testing is to examine trends in user behaviour across large groups of people.

How much does the Page Speed Affect Speed?

The primary focus of SEO is to improve the user experience. Google has explicitly stated that they want websites to be fast and responsive. Measuring page speed is taken into account when ranking sites on Google.

Too slow websites will impact user experience and engagement metrics like time on site, bounce rate, and pages per visit. It can also harm your conversion rate.
It makes perfect sense that Google would consider these factors when determining where you rank on their search engine. 

They want to provide the best possible result for all search queries, and it makes sense that page load speed would be one of the many factors taken into account when determining whether or not a website is good for the user.

How can I Increase my Website speed?

The best way to increase your website speed is by optimising your images and minifying your code.
Image optimization: Image optimization is the process of reducing the size of a graphics file in bytes without lowering the image’s quality to an unacceptable level. Because of the smaller file size, more photos are in the same amount of disk or memory space. Also, image optimization reduces the time required for prints to be sent over the Internet or downloaded from Web pages.

Minify Code: Minification is a process that removes unnecessary characters from the source code without changing its functionality. It reduces code and markup in web pages and script files to reduce load times and bandwidth usage.

Why is Site Speed Important for SEO?

The speed at which your web pages load is a critical factor in how highly they rank on search engine results pages (SERPs). Web crawlers are computer programs that crawl through web pages and index them for search engines to retrieve. The speed at which your page loads is one of the factors that web crawlers consider when ranking your web page on search engine results pages (SERPs).

If you want your page to rank highly, you need to make sure it loads quickly. That’s why site speed is vital for SEO. When a website doesn’t load quickly, web crawlers assume the content isn’t valuable and don’t rank it highly. They also believe that the content is low quality because it doesn’t conform to the needs of human users.

Is Website Speed a Ranking Factor?

Google released a group of metrics called Core Web Vitals to help businesses provide a better user experience. These metrics measure aspects of site performance and give website owners indicators of how users are experiencing their sites, which areas need improvement, and how it can affect rankings. These metrics are:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): Measures how long the main content of your web pages takes to load. Essentially means the largest image or text block visible above-the-fold in the browser window. According to Google, 2.5 seconds is considered fast, 2.5–4 seconds is moderate, and 4+ seconds is slow.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This measures visual stability by detecting unexpected layout shifts on your website pages while loading or interacting with them.

How Fast Should a Website Load?

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The loading speed of a website depends on a lot of factors, including the size and number of its elements, the bandwidth speed of the users’ Internet connection, and the hardware used to run its servers.

The size and number of elements on a web page, such as pictures and flash animations, greatly influence loading time. So does the type of code used to create it. The same goes for your users’ Internet connection bandwidth speed; a cable modem loads websites much faster than a dial-up modem. And if you’re running your site on old or underpowered servers, then no matter how light your pages are, they’ll load slowly for some users.

Which Tools Help to Optimise the Website?

Optimization is the process of making something as good or effective as possible. In an eCommerce context, optimization refers to making changes to your online store so that it performs better — whether that means ranking higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), converting more visitors into sales, or offering a better experience for customers.

Google Analytics: Google Analytics provides valuable information about your website, such as how many visitors it gets and what pages they visit. Google Analytics can help you identify your site’s design, content, and structural problems. It also allows you to see where visitors abandon your website so you can find ways to keep them on site.
Google PageSpeed Insights: Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool lets you know how fast your website loads and recommends ways to speed it up. 
You get a score between 0 and 100 for mobile-friendliness and desktop-friendliness. The higher the score, the better.

How do I Increase the Website Index?

One of the most important aspects of SEO is site indexing. The idea is to get Google to recognize your website and add it to its index, a list of all the sites Google will search when someone makes a query.
Crawling is a must for your site to be included in the index to start ranking. How to get your site crawled?

The first step is getting Googlebot, the software that crawls websites and adds them to the index, to visit your site. There are several different ways of doing this:

Submit a sitemap. Submit a sitemap through Google Search Console so Googlebot knows where all your pages are located and can crawl them easily.
Create backlinks. Backlinks help boost a page’s ranking because they show that other authoritative sites link back to it as a good resource. When another site links back to one of yours, that tells Googlebot that other sites approve of your content and think it’s useful enough for their readers, who will then be more likely to view yours as well.
Use internal links. Internal links are links from one page on your website to another, and they count as backlinks if you use anchor text that includes keywords related to the target page.

How is website slowness diagnosed?

Website slowness is diagnosed through;

1. Check the server: The first step is to check if the website is prolonged or just your browser is having trouble displaying the page. To do this, go to a website like Google or any other website you know is fast and doesn’t require load balancing. If it loads quickly, you see the problem lies with your site.
2. Look at your web server logs: If you want to get down and dirty with diagnosing site slowness, digging into the web server logs is a good place to start. Web servers will keep records of all requests for resources made by each visitor. It includes images, HTML documents, CSS files, and anything else your website may use. By looking through logs, you can see what files are taking too long to load and how many times those files are being loaded.
3. Find out where your visitors are located: Website slowness can be caused by visitors being too far away from your web servers. The further they are physically located from the servers, the longer it takes to get to them and vice versa.

Is Website Speed Really Important

The speed of your website is a crucial factor when it comes to search engine optimization. However, many factors affect the load speed of your web page, which makes it all the more critical for you to be aware of them and apply methods and techniques that’ll make your page faster. Hopefully, this guide has addressed some of these concerns on raised questions

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