Page loading times are a serious and often poorly understood matter. As most website owners try to have the most beautiful and outlandish design, the best-looking content and even more functionality, they often fail to realize that all these new elements make the page large and slow to load. This results in poor user experience and most visitors will simply abandon a website if it takes too long to load. Not to mention that both page loading times and user-experience are extremely important when it comes to website ranking positions.
That said, let’s go over the five most useful tips you can use to make your website load faster.
- Enable compression
Very large pages filled with high-quality content are often bulky and take additional time to download. Fortunately, these pages can easily be compressed in order to make the page size smaller and decrease the time needed to load them. The most popular compression tool is Gzip, as most servers have the capabilities of compressing page files into Gzip format before they’re being sent for download, something that can either be done using built-in routines or with a third-party module. Yahoo developers claim that this technique is able to reduce download times by around 70%, making this tool ideal for speeding up websites.
- Limit the number of HTTP requests
Around 80% of page load time is consumed by downloading different page elements such as images, scripts, stylesheets, etc. Each of these elements calls for a separate HTTP request when being downloaded and the more page elements you have, the longer it will take for them to load. Decreasing the number of on-page elements results in fewer HTTP requests being sent in order to render the entire page. This can be accomplished by simplifying website design, streamlining the number of on-page elements, using CSS instead of graphics and combining multiple stylesheets into a single one.
- Optimize images
Images can liven up a website, make content more appealing and even help drive engagement. However, specific image formats tend to have very large file sizes and as such take longer to load. When it comes to image formats, JPEG is the way to go for most images, with the more quality ones often being saved in PNG format. Avoid using GIFs for anything except simple graphics and make sure all your images are cropped to the right size. You can compress images using photo-editing software such as Adobe Photoshop or if you own a WordPress website, you can use the Smush Image Compression and Optimization plugin.
- Minimize redirects
Redirects can significantly slow down the loading times and compromise the user experience. They trigger an additional HTTP request every time you redirect a user from one URL to another, which increases latency. Minimize the use of redirects and only keep those that are absolutely necessary. Avoid referencing URLs that redirect to a different URL in your pages and never use more than a single redirect for any given resource. Decreasing the number of additional domains issuing redirects without serving convent is also important as it allows you to reduce latency caused by external redirect chains.
- Use a CDN
Users living in different locations around the world experience different loading times. The reason for this is the location of web servers in relation to the users. The further away from the server geographically, the longer it will take for a website to load. CDNs are used to circumvent this issue by having your website’s static content such as CSS, Java, and images stored on a network of servers. That way, users visiting your site will be served with static files by the server that is geographically closest to them. There are numerous options CDN options available, however, you might want to check with your web hosting provider, as most of them include a CDN option alongside their hosting package.
As you can see, website loading speeds are not only important, but it can also be improved using the tips we’ve covered in this article. There are, of course, more tips available online, with some being fairly easy to accomplish and some requiring a more detailed knowledge regarding website development. If you’re unsure on whether and how to implement some of these techniques, then you might want to invest in a good development company for help, simply to avoid making any mistakes and damaging your website experience.
Emma Miller is a Sydney based writer with a degree in marketing. Interested in digital marketing, social media, start-ups and latest trends. She’s a contributor at BizzMark Blog.