Webpage loading speed is an essential part of a website’s usability. Page load speed is amongst one of the 200 factors that Google considers for ranking a website in organic search.
With several other competitor websites, the need of earning website traffic and keeping user impressed with rich usability is becoming more & more crucial every day.
In fact, if a website doesn’t load quickly, chances are it’ll definitely lose potential visitors to its competitor website in a matter of seconds.
The adage “slow and steady wins the race” doesn’t apply online:
Even a delay of one-second can significantly decrease page-views, user satisfaction and drop conversions.
What’s the most prevalent factor that contributes to webpage speed?
Web browsers take time to download the code that makes-up a webpage. It has to download data such as HTML, stylesheets, scripts and images etc. and undoubtedly, it can take few seconds to download all that data.
Today, internet users expect more engaging website designs. Hence the size of a site’s resource files will eventually continue to increase.
As, each new feature will need a new stylesheet or script, that weighs down a website just a little more.
So, how do you ensure your site is up to speed?
Well, the good news is there are some great and free resources that one can use for evaluating their website’s speed:
Google’s Page Speed Insights: Google Page Speed insights analyze the content of a web page and then generates suggestions to make that page faster.
Pingdom: Tests load time of a web page, analyzes it and finds bottlenecks.
GTMetrix: Gives you an insight on how well your website loads and gives you actionable recommendations on how to optimize it.
These are some of the free and most popular tools for checking website speed and performance. These tools will analyze your website and tell you where you are falling behind.
Note: Sometimes results can be a bit scary, but most fixes are relatively quick & easy.
BUT, How to speed things up?
Speeding-up a website is crucial, not just to improve rankings in Google, but also to keep profits high.
So, in this post, I’m sharing some really effective ways that can be used to enhance site load speed:
1) Optimize Images:
Images on a website can consume a lot of bandwidth, and in turn which influences loading time of web page. Reducing the size of website’s images in HTML is not enough, as that only changes the image appearance and not its actual size.
To resize images, one can use an external image editing tool like Photoshop or an online tool (tinypng.com) which allows decreasing image sizes without losing quality.
2) Reduce HTTP Requests:
According to an online survey, most of a web page’s load time is consumed downloading different aspects of the page:
Hence simplifying the web page design is the quickest way to improve website speed. It can be done with the following methods:
Streamline the number of elements on your page.
Merge several style sheets into one.
Instead of images, use CSS whenever possible.
Reduce scripts and put them at the bottommost of the page.
Leaner is better, when it comes to your website.
3) Enable compression:
Enabling compression is just like putting a site into zip file. By using compression one can dramatically decrease webpage’s size and thus increase its speed.
Remember, compression is a server setting, therefore how you apply it will rely on your webserver & its settings.
Here are some popular resources for the most common webservers.
4) Browser Caching:
When you visit a website for the first time, the attributes of the page visited by you are stored on your hard drive in a temporary storage or cache. Hence, when you visit that specific website again, your browser can easily load the webpage without having to send another HTTP request to the server.
By enabling browser caching you will be able to store some data temporarily on a visitors’ computer, thus they don’t need to wait for it to load every time they visit your site.
For how long you store the data relies on your server-side cache settings and their browser configuration.
5) Reduce Redirects:
Redirects generate additional HTTP requests and eventually increase website load time. It is ideal to keep them to a minimum.
However, some redirects are unescapable and required, but remember this needs an additional HTTP which upsurges the page load time.
Also, check all the broken links and if you found any, fix them right away.
Although 301 redirects (permanent) are better to 404 errors (broken links), but still they are not ideal, as they slowdown the time that browser takes to reach the right version of a page.
6) Switch off All the Unnecessary Plugins:
Installing and using too many plugins can slow down a site, create unwanted security issues, often cause crashes and numerous other technical problems.
It’s ideal to delete or deactivate all the unnecessary plugins.
Try to selectively disable plugins and then evaluate server performance. By doing so, you can easily find any plugins that hinder site speed.
7) Optimizing CSS:
Optimizing CSS means your files will download at a faster rate and ultimately give visitors faster access to your pages.
Figure out whether or not you use all of your CSS. If not, clear all the unnecessary code in your files.
Every tiny bit of wasted data can tote up to increase your website’s load speed and scare away your visitors.
It is ideal to use an external style sheet, because it reduces the code size and generates fewer code duplication.
Only use one external CSS style sheet while setting up your styles, as additional style sheets increase HTTP requests.
You can easily get cleaner coding by placing all the CSS in an external style sheet.
8) Prioritize above the fold content:
One can enhance user-experience, if above-the-fold load faster and rest of the page requires a few seconds to load.
Try to split CSS by a short inline part that styles top-of-the-page elements and an exterior part that can be delayed.
Size of our web pages will definitely continue to grow, as users demand a richer online experience.
However, a slight attention will go a long-way, just keep in mind that a one second delay is all it takes to lose a lead. Improving website load speed is a crucial aspect of conversion optimization.