7 Things You Can do To Speed Up your Website
Have you ever abandoned a website because you got bored watching that loading icon spin? If so, you’re not the only one, studies show that almost half the visitors to a page will abandon if a page takes more than 3 seconds to load – meaning page load time optimization, website speed optimization and, if you’re working on the platform that powers the majority of the web, WordPress site speed are all more important than ever before.
Luckily, as a website owner, you’ve got some control over loading times for your site – considering these 7 things can make big differences – meaning you’re probably going to hang on to more of that increasingly impatient traffic!
- Try to minimize HTTP requests
HTTP requests are made every time a browser request an element of a page. So, images, scripts, Flash, stylesheets all require individual HTTP requests. If you hadn’t already guessed, each of these take a fraction of a second – and while that might not sound like a big deal, fractions of seconds all add up.
You’re likely to see big differences in speed if you reduce the number of elements required to render your page. Try using CSS for background images rather than waiting for a large image, combine style sheets and reduce scripts where possible.
2. Enable compression
Compressing large pages has often been a go-to move for people displaying large images and other high-quality content. By doing so you’re reducing the bandwidth of your page, meaning HTTP response time is decreased.
Think about it like this, HTML is a fairly chunky language – by its nature there’s a lot of repetition, and repetition means size. So, if you use a tool that can efficiently compress the information that is sent from server to browser and you’re reducing loading delays significantly.
3. Enable browser caching
Browser caching is a pretty standard practice – but if your site isn’t doing it you’re risking losing some of the most important traffic to your page.
When someone first visits your site each of the elements that go together to create the full page are loaded. Caching means these elements are stored locally for that visitor, meaning subsequent visits don’t require that data to be transferred again – and the page will load in a fraction of the time.
From a customer behaviour point of view – it’s pretty obvious that the more time someone visits your site the more likely they are to interact in the way you hope they will, whether that’s buying, signing up, contacting your business – or so forth. Most people will accept that a page takes time to load fully on their first visit, but studies show they can be more impatient if they expect quicker service second and third time around. If they’re coming back they’re 10 times more valuable than they were on their first visit – make their experience a positive one!
4. Trim that code
Some of the best literary writers in the world will go back to their text and trim, trim and trim again to see how lean they can make their work without losing the important meaning – remove 25% of the words and your book can be consumed in 75% of the original time. Coding is no different – unnecessary line breaks, spaces and indentations add nothing to the page – other than fractions of seconds in loading time.
5. Optimize images
We’ve got good and bad news if you’ve got plenty of images on your site – the bad relates to the frequency with which poor page load times can be attributed to oversized images, however, the good news is that you can tackle those image issues in number of ways…
Crop – instead of setting a width parameter for a large image crop that image down to the correct size. If there’s a mega high-res 5000px that’s being coded down to a 540px width then it’s going to take a lot longer to load than a 540px version of the same image.
Colour – Do you really need the awesome colour depth you’d need if you were printing on to a huge point of sale? If the answer is no, reduce that depth.
Format – JPEG and PNG are your best bets for size, quality and browser support. Avoid BMPs of TIFFs as both are uncompressed – so can be sizable and therefore slow.
Source – Avoid empty image ‘src’ codes. If there’s no source contained a request is still sent – taking up time and adding load to your server.
While a lot of people will suggest using only one CSS stylesheet it might be worth considering having a short inline CSS that loads the top of your site a little faster than the rest. In a world that is increasingly favouring longer ‘one page’ style sites, this can improve user experience considerably – meaning a visitor sees what appears to be a fully loaded page – buying precious seconds to fully render the rest of the site.
7. Reduce the number of plug-ins you use
A plug-in is an additional pieces of software that adds functionality to a website. One of the most common is Adobe’s Flash Player – although there are thousands upon thousands more. Using too many slows your site, can cause security issues within certain browsers and they are notoriously responsible for many technical issues.
If they add nothing significant to your site, deactivate or delete to encourage speedier responses.
Some of these tips are going to be fairly easy to implement yourself – however, there are some that are best left to someone else if you’re not so technically minded. If you’re not sure whether it’s worth spending money on having someone else tweak your code to ensure your page is displaying as quickly as is possible then you might want to think about this:
For every 1-second delay research shows that you’re likely to lose 11% of your page views, 17% user satisfaction and 7% loss in conversions.
Do some financial projects and think about what that might mean to your bottom line – then have a look at whether or not the maths of outsourcing those complex speed boosting tips might stack in your favour…