HOW TO: Speed up your website

Categories How To

It’s no big secret that web users like their content to be delivered in a swift and efficient manner. Research shows that people expect websites to load within a couple of seconds ideally, and that a delay of more than three seconds will result in 40 per cent of users abandoning that website. Speed of loading also has an effect on trust, conversion rates and repeat visit rates, so as a website owner, why wouldn’t you want your website to load quickly?

With Google asking webmasters to deliver sites that are fast and functional, or suffer the de-ranking punishment, businesses should all be undertaking website testing to find out how their site measures up. If you know your site is not performing quite as it should and are looking to make some improvements, here are some of the areas you should focus on to start with.

Look for efficiencies in the code

The number one cause of slow loading websites is inefficient coding. For many web designers and developers, cleaning up redundant code and removing any duplication in the CSS files is a bit of an afterthought. After all, if the site works, why tinker with it? However, these issues can have a drastic effect on the site’s performance, so investigate the state of the code behind the site to see if that’s what’s causing the issue.

Be savvy about presenting your content

Having mixed content is a good thing on any site, but if you haven’t taken the time to compress your images, then you could be slowing things down a great deal. Large images can take ages to load, so make sure every picture on your pages is compressed to the maximum. Consider whether you need all the images you currently have, or whether some can be replaced with text and wording to speed up the loading time.

Contemplate caching

If you are using a content management system (CMS) to look after your site, then every time someone loads up your site the database of the CMS will need to be queried before the page can be returned to the user. This can result in delays which can be costly to a business. Consider caching your website and returning the cached version to your users as a static page to speed up loading, and set it to refresh with the up to date site after a few moments.

Have better hosting

If you rely on your website for business but are still on a shared hosting package, you might want to reconsider upgrading to a VPS or dedicated server hosting package. This will give your website ownership of dedicated resources to help it load much more quickly. Consider where your hosting company is located as well, as some countries have notoriously slow loading speeds and could be a root cause of your problem.

Use a content delivery network

Content delivery networks (CDNs) are becoming increasingly widely used around the web. These allow your users to download your pages in parallel, doubling the speed of delivery and making it easy to show content such as large images or videos to every visitor to your site.

Having a speedier website is not only good for business – it’s good for your SEO and for the overall customer experience, too. If you don’t know what you should be doing or how, lots of companies out there will be able to assist you in optimising the performance of your site both for now and well into the future.

header image courtesy of Urban Hafner

Catalin is the founder of Mostash - a social marketing boutique - and he's always happy to share his passion for graphic design & social media.