The speed of your website is one of its most important aspects. The statistic shows that any second counts, and it means a lot to the users. If your site has only one extra second delay, you might end up with 11% fewer views on your page. Also, your customer’s satisfaction reduces for up to 16%. Not to mention a 7% loss that you will suffer when it comes to conversions.
The users might not even be aware of it, but they will avoid your site because they know that it is slower than they tolerate. Amazon and Walmart discovered this, and they immediately improved their speeds.
Generally, people expect speed on the internet, and they don’t forgive if you can’t meet their demands. They expect a site to load in two second tops, and if you need longer than 3, chances are that they will abandon it instantly. More than half of them will judge the site according to speed, and it will definitely affect their loyalty to it.
The speed of the internet is getting better and better each year, but that still is not good enough. The average site needs over 7 seconds to fully load, which is far more than 2 seconds that users demand. But, it seems that we are not quite there yet, and if you want to increase your speed, here are 10 things that you can do to achieve that.
Reduce HTTP requests
Each of your website’s components has its own HTTP request, and they are all being sent at once when the page loads. That includes requests for scripts, images, Flash, stylesheets, and alike. Basically, what you want to do is reduce the number of those elements. Not too much, and make your site look empty, but definitely enough to speed things up.
The even better solution includes simplification. Here is what you can do:
- Replace the use of images with CSS when you can
- Use fewer scripts, and also put them on the page’s bottom
- Reduce the number of elements on the page
- Combine style sheets to reduce their number
By doing this, your speed will increase, and your page will load a lot better and faster.
Improve server response time
What you should aim at is to reduce the response time of your server to less than 200ms. You will do it by following tips from this article already. If you wish to see how your website is doing at the moment, you can use a web application monitoring solution. Google recommends it as well, so you might try that out.
You can also use Yslow if you wish to evaluate website’s speed, and you can also learn more about your site’s performance with Google’s PageSpeed Tools.
If you have a high-quality content on your site, chances are that you have a pretty large page. That includes 100kb or even more than that. Because of that, they always load very slowly. So, what you might want to do is compress them by zipping.
Compression is known to positively influence the bandwidth, as well as an HTTP response. A good tool for doing this is the one by the name of Gzip.
This can lead to 70% better loading time, and your visitors will definitely feel the improvement. And, you also don’t have to worry about if it will work for everyone because over 90% of internet traffic currently goes through browsers that do allow Gzip to make changes for them.
Turn on browser caching
When you load a page, your browser sends HTTP requests to the server, and in return, it receives information about what is on the website. That information can be stored in a cache on your hard drive, or perhaps in the temporary storage.
That way, your browser won’t have to send requests every time when it visits a site. Instead, it can use the info that it already has, and only improve on it. When someone visits your site for the first time, information about 20-30 components needs downloading. That can take a lot of time, and have a large impact on the speed. However, the speed will improve a lot next time, only if browser caching is on.
So, by enabling caching, and still reducing the number of components like we advised in previous steps, you can improve the speed for both new and old visitors. All cacheable resources live in a storage from one week to one year. Do not set it to last for more than a year, because that is against the RFC guidelines.
It is easier to create and build up your page if you are using WYSIWYG resources, However, they can result in messy codes, which often slows down the page’s performance, a lot.
Every piece of code will increase the size of your page, which is why you should make sure that you only have the most important ones. Eliminate line breaks, extra space, and similar things.
Now, when it comes to minifying the code itself, google recommends using PageSpeed Insights Chrome Extension. With it, you can generate your HTML code, and optimize its version.
Images take a long time to load as it is. If you do not reduce their size, it might have a catastrophic hit on your site’s speed. Always do whatever you can to keep them as small as possible. Of course. you don’t want to damage the look of the site, but you do want to increase its speed.
You can do this by employing editing tools. With them, you can crop the images and reduce their size. Also, reduce the images’ color depth as much as possible, and also remove comments.
As for the recommendation of a format, we suggest JPEG. PNG is another decent option, although some older browsers might not agree with it. Avoid GIFs if you can, or only use their small and simple versions. As for TIFFs and BMPs, you should avoid them completely.
That is not the end of it, however. You should worry about getting their code right as well. For example, empty src codes for images should be avoided. You will only get extra traffic that nobody needs if the image source isn’t there, but the browser still makes a request for it.
Worrying so much about images takes time, we know. However, you will also reduce the time your website takes to load, which improves its impression. And, in the end, all that matters to you is to attract visitors, and potential customers and clients.
CSS delivery optimization
CSS is what is holding your page’s style requirements. When your website needs this info, it can get to it in two ways. It will either use an external file, which loads before the page, or an inline, which is in HTML document.
There is a very big difference when it comes to code scanning and retrieving the info your site needs, which is why you want it to go to an external style sheet whenever possible.
Also, do not forget that using one external CSS stylesheet is always preferable. That way, browsers will only send one HTTP request, which will, once again, help with increasing speed.
If you need some extra tools in order to find your way around, CSS Delivery Tool can help by telling you how many stylesheets is the site using. For cleaner coding, we also recommend you avoid including CSS into HTML code.
Make above-the-fold content a priority
Basically, this is the act of forcing the top of your page to load faster, while the rest of it takes an additional few seconds. The visitor will immediately get to the page, which improves their impression on the website.
You might also split CSS in two. One part will be inline, and it will help with loading the top of your page faster. Then, the rest of the page can load from an external half.
Don’t use too many plugins
Plugins are known for slowing your site down, and they can even cause crashes or similar difficulties. Everything that you don’t need must go. Also, try finding which ones have the worst effect, and consider removing them as well. They might help a bit, but impact the speed a lot.
You will simply have to think about whether it is worth it or not to keep using them.
Redirects are a problem because they, once again, increase the number of HTTP requests. You probably use them for taking the mobile users to a responsive website that their phones will support.
According to Google, you can send the users directly to the responsive version of your website, without the need to redirect them. This can be done with HTTP redirect.
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Improving your website’s speed might benefit you a lot while adding too much can slow you down and scare away the visitors. Speed is important on the internet, and that is just how it is. We all know that a few extra seconds won’t change much, but patience is not something that is in large supply today.
By using the tips we mentioned, you should be able to reduce your loading time. Every millisecond counts, so don’t avoid solutions only because they don’t seem beneficial enough.
Ali is a freelance journalist with 5 years of experience in web journalism and marketing. He contributes to various online publications like Best10VPN. With a master degree, now he combines his passions for writing about internet security and technology. When he is not working, he loves traveling and playing games.