Business Going Slow? Speed Up Your Website
If there ever was the Holy Grail that determines the success of a website, then surely it would be its speed. Taunt your potential customers with more than three seconds load time and a great portion of them will most likely run away to the competition. In times when speed is a prominent characteristic of websites that generate significant income, it simply can’t be neglected. So today we’ll talk about website speed—backing all our claims with tips on how to improve it.
But first, let’s look at how page load time affects bounce rates (percentage of visitors who leave a website after viewing only one page) Usually, the higher the percentage, the lower the conversion rates; however, not all pages are affected by this metric, e.g., one-page websites, blogs.
Identify What’s Slowing Down Your Page
Every upgrade of website speed begins with the identification of the culprits causing it. There are several tools and apps you can use to find configurations within your technology stack responsible for slow load time and poor page performance. But sometimes a whole component in the stack can be causing performance problems and should be replaced with a technology solution best suited for specific needs of a business. Click To Tweet For example, large e-commerce businesses need databases able to sieve through mounds of data and return requested results in a fraction of a second.
PageSpeed Insights—created by Google, the tool offers a comprehensive assessment of all website elements responsible for performance. PageSpeed Insights gives the mobile and desktop version of your site a performance score, adding suggestions for upgrades along with the expected boost in performance.
TestMySite—TestMySite lets you diagnose how your mobile site is faring speed-wise, benchmarking it against your competitors’ via different connections and locations. The tool also offers you direct optimization suggestions that can enhance users’ viewing experience and satisfaction.
A particularly useful TestMySite’s feature is a revenue estimator, helping business owners gauge possible revenue coming from improved website performance.
The results above are illustrative, based on generalized data available online. But you can use the estimator to see how increasing site speed could potentially help your business.
You can also configure the tool to see how your site is performing against your competitors (connection and its location can be configured as per business needs).
WebPageTest—a robust website diagnostic tool that uses many metrics and simulates real user environment from locations around the globe to provide you with an in-depth evaluation of your website. WebPageTest offers a very detailed analysis of all components making up your site, allowing you to identify what exactly should be addressed to fix performance issues. It’s an invaluable tool suited for more experienced developers.
Lighthouse—available through Chrome DevTools, Lighthouse is a powerful open-source tool that can audit any page for performance, accessibility, viewing characteristics across different devices, and many other tech-oriented properties. Lighthouse is a good tool to measure the efforts aimed at enhancing user experience.
Know Thy Enemy to Obliterate It
The tools above will help you identify and fix issues causing slow page load times and poor performance, but there are methods you can implement from the get-go to avoid a later hassle with complex modifications and upgrades.
#1. Host Media on a CDN (Content Delivery Network)
Instead of serving content to your visitors from a single server, or many servers in the same location, distribute it through a large network of servers scattered across the globe—that’s what a CDN essentially is. A CDN recognizes the location of the visitor and delivers the required content from a server closest to that visitor, saving loads of bandwidth capacity and decreasing the number of server requests. A distributed network of servers makes your site immune from bottlenecks caused by traffic spikes, offering undisrupted service availability.
#2. Cache to Relieve the Server
Caching is a useful method to load a website faster. Caching means that recently visited web content is temporarily stored in a browser and then retrieved when the site is revisited. If the content has changed since the last visit, the new version of the website will be loaded. But if the content remains the same, the server doesn’t have to load the same content again and again upon every visit, wasting resources that should be spent on serving your prospects fast load times.
#3. Reduce HTTP requests by Combining CSS and JS Files
An HTTP request of each web component (say, CSS file) is sent to the server to render a website. The more requests the server receives, the longer it takes to generate the website. So instead of having multiple CSS files that render the website, which creates many resource-consuming GET requests, a wiser option is to combine these files and cut the website rendering time.
Websites often rely on many third-party integrations and plugins, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, chatbots, feeds, etc. When one of those plugins goes down, your website is stuck in a loop trying to load that crashed plugin and leaving the rest of the remaining content unrendered. The solution to this dilemma is simple—asynchronous data loading. If one of the social media plugins becomes unavailable, your site won’t keep on trying to load it but will skip it instead, focusing on delivering the rest of the web content.
Sometimes Speed-Boosting Solutions Are Simple, Yet Overlooked
A thorough analysis of your online asset is crucial to determine what to do to make your site faster. Sometimes the culprit behind slow performance can be as simple as an inefficient hosting plan with limited resources (say, shared instead of dedicated hosting), or wrong compression of images and texts.
Optimization in the Name of Business
User experience is a dealbreaker: fail to deliver it in an impeccable format and your business can experience significant financial losses. Yes, there are many components involved in enhancing website speed—targeting and then optimizing them can mean serious, sometimes costly, and time-consuming changes that might even disrupt your service for a while. But by improving the speed of your website, you are more likely to attract visitors who will turn from prospects into customers.