The Best Ways to Improve Your Website Performance
If your site takes more than 3 seconds to load, chances are that your visitor has already left. It’s not a secret, well performing websites have higher visitor engagement, re-visits and conversion into business. Given how impatient users can be, and with the relevance of mobile devices increasing daily, the speed of your website has never been more important.
Increasing Website Performance – The difference a millisecond can make
Website performance has been a popular subject for discussion amongst the internet community throughout its history. Internet giants Google and Amazon have both researched the subject and published their results, showing a remarkable trend. Google maps reduced their page size from 100KB to 80KB, which resulted in up to 25% traffic increase to the site, whilst Amazon’s research showed that increasing the load times of amazon.com by as little as 100ms resulted in 1% lower sales.
This research, and that of many others, clearly shows that the size of a website, and the resulting loading speed subsequently reflects on your company.
Do you know how well your website is performing? Quotall Marketing offer a FREE website evaluation service (Usually valued at £500) which will signpost all potential issues on your site as well as give you an insight into how they can be fixed. For your FREE website performance report, contact us NOW.
Assets such as images are one of the main causes of poor website performance. Because of their comparatively large file size, it takes a lot of time to download images. Where possible it’s always best to use CSS generated graphics instead of images, however if images such as photographs are needed, then there are a few techniques to try to increase website performance.
Losslessly Compressing Images
Images such as photographs often include extra meta data or colour information, which isn’t used in the image. This can be on quite a large scale when saved with photo editing software like photoshop. Compressing files can reduce the amount of data that needs downloading, increasing website performance. Smush.it is an example of a service that provides lossless compression of files.
A simple way to speed up websites is to minimize the number of http requests. Each image on your website requires one http request to the server. Typically, browsers can perform only a couple of simultaneous requests which can cause queues. By combining several images into one single collage-like image, the number of http requests is reduced.
Sprites can be quite fiddly to create, but there is a range of online sprite tools to help. For example, SpritePad. With SpritePad you can simply drag & drop your images and have them immediately available as one PNG sprite + CSS code.
If possible, images should be served at their original image size. For example, you should not re size your images using CSS unless you are serving several instances of the same image and that image matches at least one that is the original size. Otherwise you should use something such as photoshop to re size your image, this will result in the saving of bytes. You can even resize an image in basic software like Picture Edit which comes free with most PCs.
It’s important to remember that this this doesn’t take into account fluid images (in responsive design) which may well be larger than they’re displayed on a small screen.
Caching is supported by both Web Browsers & Servers, and stores previous requests, such as cookies and images. Storing this information increases available bandwidth and increases website performance. Caching is most effective when used on parts of the website which rarely change, such as CSS and other script file types. An expiry date can be set for script and data, telling your browser or server when to provide an updated version.
Content Delivery Networks
When you’ve completed all the tips and tricks to your website, it’s time to look at the server that is hosting it. A regular server will store a copy of your site and then serve it to whichever location the user is viewing it from. The time it takes from the user first requesting the site to the time it takes for the server to respond varies depending on how far away the user is to the server.
Content Delivery Networks work in a different way. Instead of hosting just one copy of your website they host multiple copies of it around the world on various different servers.
An interesting experiment you can conduct is testing your website before and after you’ve made these changes. Google has a tool that checks the speed and optimization of your website, here. You can see how these changes have improved the speed of your site.
There is no doubt about it, faster websites provide a better experience for your future and current customers. Where could your site use some improvement? Do you have the technical knowledge or even the time to manage this yourself?
Not sure where to start? Why not ask Quotall to undertake a FREE website Performance review for you? Contact us here.
Outsourcing your website performance management is almost certainly the most cost effective thing you can do. Quotall Marketing offer website performance management from as little as £295 per month, and would cover all aspects of performance, not just those highlighted in this article.