Accelerating Your User Journey with a Quicker Website Speed

Blog 230 Accelerating Your User Journey with a Quicker Website Speed 1

Website loading time matters a lot. Page load times are an important factor in how well your content is ranked in search page results. Ideally, your webpages should load in no more than one to two seconds even on less reliable mobile connections!

Here’s eight ways you can improve your website speed:

1. Caching

Page caching helps by storing snapshots of your webpages rather than them being created on-the-fly which is the default behaviour. This reduces page load times. If your website is built or hosted via WordPress, have a look at W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache.

2. Hosts and servers

Not all servers are created equal. There are usually many options to choose from, such as free hosting and paid solutions such as dedicated hosting, shared hosting, and virtual private servers (VPS). If your pages continue to load slowly even after implementing all the tips in this article then the issue is likely to be your host or server. You might need to upgrade to a solution that offers more resources.

3. Avoid plug-ins

In the recent past, adding interactive elements and special effects required installing browser plug-ins like Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, and Oracle Java. These days, HTML5 web technologies do all that for us and much, much more efficiently. If you’re still using those old technologies it’s time to ditch them as they slow down page loading times dramatically.

4. Reduce HTTP requests

Every external resource you include in your webpages is something additional that has to be loaded. If you have too many of them it will definitely affect the loading time of your pages. The solution is to reduce the number of these external resources. You can do this in a number of ways, for example:

  • where possible combine JavaScript and CSS files into single files. For small blocks of JS and CSS you can just embed them inline in your HTML code.
  • reduce the number of external web fonts you use
  • avoid page redirects. Sometimes they’re unavoidable but if you can invest a little time to eliminate non-essential redirects that will translate to a better user experience.

When in doubt, try a tool like www.giftofspeed.com’s HTTP Request Checker to see if this is an issue for your website’s poor loading times.

5. Optimise images

Images are one of the most significant reasons for slow page loading times.There’s actually a lot that can be done here, for example:

  • never use raw, uncompressed images straight from your digital camera. Use a free online service to optimise them (or download a free desktop application like GIMP).
  • resize the image rather than loading its original size. You can also specify the image size in your CSS so the browser knows what to expect in advance.
  • learn about image types so you choose the best solution: gif, jpg, png, or svg. Never use bitmaps!

Business owners with more advanced tech skills might also consider converting images to Base64 for faster loading as text rather than as a binary. There are lots of free tools online to do this for you, such as base64.image.de

6. Use content delivery networks for video files

For larger files, including video content, it is often more efficient to make use of dedicated online services which are optimised for delivery. Everyone has heard of YouTube so if you want to stream video content that is a great first choice. Vimeo is another video streaming service. You can embed the link to your videos on your site rather than the video file itself, thus improving your page load times.

7. Use a light-weight theme

Sometimes the quest to make webpages look attractive can cause some businesses to go overboard on themes. Don’t be afraid of more minimalist themes and colour palettes – not only are they less distracting to the customer but they can achieve a balance of looking professional without creating sluggish webpage loading times.

8. Testing

Finally, the most overlooked aspect of website loading times is to test your loading speeds regularly. Because your website is a living electronic site (not static) due to new content being added, you constantly need to monitor whether your site continues to meet the speed expectations of both Google and your customers. To do this, you need to test all your pages for yourself using different browsers and different devices. Just because your site loads fast for desktop users, does not mean it loads fast for mobile users. The following tools are great for checking your page load speeds and offering recommendations on what you can do to improve.

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