Speed optimisation should form a key part of your online strategy. Your website could be the belle of the ball, but it needs to load fast. In a world of mobile data and a thousand distractions, the microseconds count. Tiny ticks of time will dictate whether a customer stays on your site, or throws it aside for the next suitor. To say people have the attention span of a goldfish isn’t hyperbole – studies show that 32% of people will abandon a slow loading site within 1-5 seconds. In this respect, website speed is as inviting as good design.
Besides performance, page speed is a proven ranking factor for your site’s position on Google. Search engines pride themselves in delivering answers; it would be embarrassing if these were dished up pixel by pixel, line by line. From their standpoint, a faster website is better at delivering information than its slow loading competitor.
Improve Page Loading Speed With These Steps
Long story short, everyone wins with a fast loading website. If you run a page speed test and find yourself faring poorly, here are a few tips to quicken the pace.
Shrink Your Photos
Large pictures are one of the biggest culprits for slow loading websites. If you’re not savvy with how you upload them, they could grind your page to a halt.
If you take photos on a digital camera, beware! Your 12 megapixel panorama is gorgeous – no-one disputes that – but it’s not doing any favours on a little monitor. Shrink your photographs before uploading them. Unless there’s a special reason, images larger than 2400px have no business on your server.
Optimise Image Files
If you have photo editing software, keep an eye on the Save For Web option. Look for settings that can reduce your file size without a noticeable drop in quality.
No software and no WordPress? No problem. You can upload images to TinyPNG and watch that lovely panda chew the fat. Find a file on your computer and give it a go now. It’s really satisfying.
Lighten Your Database
Websites that use a Content Management System probably use a database. Besides your public content, it also contains revisions, draft posts, spam comments, transient options and deleted pages. Understandably, not all of these are particularly useful.
Look through your dashboard and see if any of the above can be deleted. In future, consider limiting your post revisions to 2 or 3, so that you’re not bogged down with all the past versions of your content.
Cache Your Website
When you cache a page, you are taking a ‘snapshot’ and serving it on a lightweight platter to the viewer. It means that rather than individually loading a series of requests, your browser reads plain, digestible HTML.
Caching (and many other speed enhancing functions) can be done through your dashboard via a plugin such as WP Super Cache. Within this, there are many settings: object cache, database cache, css minify, the list goes on. Not all of these will be applicable to your website, so check with your developer if you’re unsure.
Content Delivery Network
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) loads your website from multiple locations rather than the one server. That means data centres from around the globe will host – and therefore load – your website faster. There are dedicated services such as Cloudflare or MaxCDN that let you transfer your site to a Content Delivery Network. Supercharge Your Website they say. They’re not wrong. CDNs also offer advanced security such as DDOS protection and Firewalls. Larger sites in particular will appreciate this when succumbing to heavy traffic.
Reduce, Combine and Minify Render Blocking Scripts
When you load a website, the process is halted every time it calls in an external script, stylesheet, image or iframe. You can limit render-blocking by packing as many script files into your local folder/theme as possible. That means combining stylesheets, reducing the number of plugins and tucking as many scripts into the page footer. The less obstacles in the way, the quicker your website speed will be.
Choose A Good Host (Avoid Gimmicks!)
The above points are important, but they won’t get you far with a rubbish host. I’ve dealt with great and terrible hosting companies, and the speed difference between the two is huge. Not only that, but important features such as email accounts, site backups, customer support and security are crucial. Don’t dive in and pick the bubbliest looking service – go on Trustpilot, carefully read reviews and choose the firm that means business.
In this day and age, website speed is a must. These steps rely on one another to deliver a quick-loading web page. See which of these you are able to do yourself, and which require outside help. The internet is full of tools that help analyse and measure page speed. Many of them are free, so take advantage and rain fire on that online slowcoach!