As a web development agency, one of the top questions we get asked, is “How do I make my website go faster?” As any business owner can tell you, your website is your first (and sometimes last) chance to make a great impression. According to an Akamai Study, visitors want your website to load in under two seconds. And in fact, over 40 percent of visitors will bounce if a page takes more than three seconds to load. To make sure your website’s fate doesn’t fall victim to these stats, we’ve put together some quick tips for how to improve your website’s speed.
Site Speed In General
To diagnose your website speed, check out Google’s Page Speed Analysis. Here, you will receive two very important numbers. The first is your website’s mobile speed out of 100; and second, is your website’s desktop speed out of 100.
Stop, Compress and Listen
Compression is a very common way to make your site go faster. There are multiple ways to do this.
You can enable image compression, which will ensure only web-optimized images are being sent over the network. This works just as you would think, the smaller the image file size, the less time it takes to load. If you are using a CMS, there are plugins that can do this automatically. For example, for WordPress sites, EWWW Image Optimizer is one of these tools. There are also web-based tools that do this as well, such as Kraken.io.
You can also compress your code as well. Today, modern browsers can enable gzip compression for all HTTP requests. This can help reduce the size of files being sent over the network by up to 90%. Another way to do this is to minify your CSS and HTML. Minify is just a fancy word for replicating the code, and taking out all extraneous spaces. The human eye (i.e. computer programmers) need spaces and line breaks to read code. However, the robots (i.e. interwebs) do not need spaces and line breaks to read code. Minification provides both of these. The programmers get the code with the spaces, but the internet only receives the minified code, therefore, making it faster.
Browser Caching and Server Upgrade Time
Each time a website loads, it must load every piece of code and every image. By enabling caching, your browser remembers the website from the last time you visited and is able to save that version and load it faster the next time you visit. The only issue here can be if you’re making regular updates, your visitors may see an earlier version of the site until their cache is reset.
If you do all these things and your site is still lagging, it may be time to upgrade your server. Today, there are countless VPS and enterprise level servers that can take your site from tortoise to hare in as much time as it takes for your transfer your files over. As an agency, we would recommend Pantheon and WPEngine hosting services for WordPress. Additionally, AWS and Digital Ocean are good as well, but they are self-managed, which typically isn’t as user-friendly.
When it comes to website speed, it’s not just about creating an optimal user experience. It can also affect your search rankings, as Google’s algorithm takes site speed into consideration to determine your domain authority.
Now go forth and create an optimal web experience for your audience.