The speed of your website will be one of the major factors that play into its success. Whether you’re operating an eCommerce site or you’re developing a simple blog, visitors want pages that are fast to load. According to Akamai, a global leader in Internet performance and network development, nearly half of the people online will abandon a page if it takes longer than three seconds to display content. This percentage is double for those looking to make purchases online. Even search engines will rank your site lower in results if it takes too long to load.
Luckily, there are several things you can do that will speed up a website. While some of these may require a bit of programming knowledge, some can be done just by making a few changes in how you create content. Regardless of how it’s done, putting effort into these measures to enhance the user experience of your site can impact visitor retention as well as search engine priority. The following are seven things you can do that will help your site load up quicker on various devices. Committing to just one of these has potential to increase viewership.
1. Optimize Imagery
Images are one of the more prominent sources for a slow load time. High-resolution pictures can be incredibly large and take a great deal of time to render in the grand scheme of things. When you upload a large 3000-pixel wide image and insert coding to reduce the image display to 150 pixels wide, browsers will still download that larger image and shrink it to fit the code.
A way to reduce the time it takes for computers and smartphones to download this image is to size it manually before uploading it to your website. If you need a 150-pixel wide image on your site, you should create a 150-pixel wide image to upload. You should also keep images in JPEG or PNG format. Things such as BMPs and TIFFs simply take up too much memory by being more complex. Here are some tips on how to optimize images if you run a WordPress website.
2. Reduce Plugins
Plugins can take a great deal of effort to load, especially if your site is bogged down with them. While content management systems such as WordPress and Joomla utilize plugins for customization, there should be no need to install everything that looks “cool” to add. Something you thought made your site look attractive may be hindering its performance.
Plugins can also include snippets of code that are placed into websites for other features. For example, the Twitter feed isn’t actually a plugin as the code is copy-and-pasted directly into any page on your website. However, it will still contribute to load time as it’s pulling information from a server other than your own.
3. Clean-up Framework or Themes
A lot of slow websites suffer from inefficient coding. Sites that have been up for more than a decade are often slower than others because the code hasn’t been updated. Styles and online coding has changed a great deal, and your site may be a victim of using outdated HTML practices.
Themes such as those used in WordPress and Joomla could also be cause for a slow site. The same principle applies when considering how long your site has been in operation with the same theme. If you want to speed up your website, you might want to ensure it’s using current coding practices.
4. Using a Content Delivery Network
A content delivery network, or CDN, takes your persistent files and stores them on servers closest to your target audience. Many hosting providers are offering this style of platform as it can vastly increase load times for your visitors.
5. Optimize the Homepage
You don’t want your homepage to be too busy. Showing 30 posts on the homepage reduces its speed. Many website owners take a more minimalist approach to design for the homepage and other landing pages. Removing Flash video content, reducing image use, reducing banners and only showing a few of the most common posts are some of the more common practices.
Many have adopted the philosophy of reducing scrolling on the homepage as well. What this means is that if visitors have to scroll too far to reach the bottom of the homepage, then there is too much. This belief centers around keeping the site as basic as possible.
6. Consider Your Host’s Capabilities
Not all problems for speed can be fixed by changing coding or resizing images. In fact, your host could be playing a part in the efficiency of your website. If all else fails, you may need to find a host that has a better track record with accessibility.
You may also want to consider switching your site to a dedicated server instead of leaving your hosting provider. For the most part, hosting accounts are stored on shared servers. This means the memory, CPU, drive usage and other contributing factors are being utilized by several websites at once. A dedicated server may cost a bit more, but it will allow your site to use most of the resources available allowing it to essentially speed up the website. Learn more about GreenGeeks’ Dedicated Server Packages.
7. Use Redirects as Little as Possible
Redirects can be quite beneficial when you are building a new site, revamping existing formats or simply moving to a new server. However, the redirect can also tap your load time.
In an age where the competition among websites is extremely high, you need to take every measure you can to create an impact on your target audience. Although content is king, speed is a must-have attribute. Do what you can to enhance the experience of your visitors as well as the search engines. In the fast-paced environment of the Internet, every second counts.