Amazing graphics for the visuals? Check. High-quality content added for value? Check. Helpful plugins integrated to aid the visitors? Check. SEO efforts, great CTAs, and stunning color contrast; everything seems to be on point and with this, you think you have a website masterpiece. However, any slight carelessness could impact your website speed that can undo all your other efforts!
Why is Website Speed Important?
If you think you can make up for slow website speed by providing other attractive features, think again! Studies have shown that a five-second delay causes a 4.9% drop in the number of visitors. That said, a slow website causes the audience to visit the said website less and less.
But this is not the only place that takes a hit when the website speed is below expectations. Conversion, usability, and visibility (SEO) are also impacted when website speed is not up to the mark.
Conversion is crucial to a website since this factor allows the audience to sign up, register, buy products/services, download guides, watch videos/webinars, etc. However, all of this is only possible if the website loads faster. That said, even a single second delay can reduce the conversion rate by 7%.
It is all about delivering a great user experience. If the website speed is compromised, your audience will be unsatisfied which will impact your plans to build a large audience base.
The visibility factor is directly related to SEO. Google records every user interaction with every website. If the user experience is great, the ranking will be great and if the user experience is bad, the visibility factor will be bad. That said, quick loading is one of the crucial factors that impact one’s ranking.
Website Speed: Tools to Figure it out
Before devising various strategies to combat low speed, you need to determine what your website’s current load time is. There are a couple of online tools available that could help developers evaluate the performance of their website such as:
Do not be turned off by the outdated interface of YSlow because it can deliver brilliant results. That said, it is one of the best tools when it comes to analyzing website speed. YSlow is a browser extension that works by analyzing every single component on a web page. After this, it provides a list of suggestions that could be used to improve a website’s performance.
Developers can significantly improve their user experience by implementing the suggestions provided by YSlow.
2. Google PageSpeed Insight
Just like YSlow, Google PageSpeed Insight examines the working of the website and suggests a number of ways through which improvements could be seen in the load time.
A free tool by Google, PageSpeed Insight tells developers what they are doing right and what they could do to improve the overall performance. The total performance is broken down into various scorecards and reports. For more information, consider reading this web page.
Pingdom is a comprehensive monitoring tool that evaluates the performance of any website and provides reliable solutions. It is different from other online tools as it tracks the site’s performance history, recommends data-driven techniques, and generates simple yet thorough reports.
GTMetrix is unique in its working since it utilizes the readings from Google PageSpeed Insight and YSlow. Based on the results obtained from other tools, GTMetrix provides a list of suggestions and recommendations to enhance the performance of the website.
Apart from various analysis options, GTMetrix provides a complete performance breakdown in the form of a graph which developers could use to identify weak spots.
Best Techniques to Practice
Once you have identified the areas that need improvement, you can move on to the next step. Generally, there are various techniques which you can use to acquire better results. However, we have narrowed down our list to six of the best techniques that will help you in the long run!
If you are working with a WordPress website, you can install the WP Rocket plugin, check the “Load JS Files Deferred” option and you are done. On the other hand, if you are working with an HTML site, you will need to manipulate the codes. For this purpose, you may find this article helpful!
2. Image Optimization
Web developers rely on images to further beautify the web layout. But, when they start to take a toll on the site’s loading, that is when they become a problem. However, with the right optimization techniques, this problem can be resolved.
Utilizing a large number of images or other visual elements makes it necessary to optimize or compress them. The best way of compressing the images is by using online tools, e.g. Kraken or ImageOptim. Keep in mind that image optimization is only necessary for websites that utilize a heavy amount of visual elements. If your website entertains one or two images, then you can skip this step.
Another method of reducing the image size is by utilizing the HTML responsive image attributes that automatically shifts the picture’s size according to the screen measurements of the users.
3. Content Delivery Network (CDN)
If you have a popular website, chances are, people from other geographical locations may also visit your website. Having an extended audience base is good for business; however, if someone accesses your website from a location far away from yours, the website may load differently for them. In this case, it will be a slow load time.
This is where the need to have a CDN becomes apparent. A CDN has access to various data centers scattered across the globe which then proceeds to store a cached copy of the registered websites on every data center. So, if someone tries to access your website, the CDN will redirect their request to the data centers closest to their location. From there, they can access the cached copy of your website.
CDN is an attractive opportunity since by delivering a cached copy, the content will be quickly delivered and the website will perform faster for the users.
4. Eliminate Redundant Plugins
Plugins are great; however, additional resources are required to work them. This can take a toll on the speed and performance of the website. In addition, since plugins are the work of third parties, their outdated security policies may put your website at risk.
Because of this, you need to constantly analyze each plugin and get rid of duplicate or outdated plugins. Here, the online speed checking tools will come in handy as they will help you identify the plugins that load tons of styles and scripts or amount to a lot of data queries.
The best approach is to install only the useful ones while resisting the temptation to download the appealing yet useless ones.
5. Load Web Fonts Properly
Currently, custom web fonts are flooding the internet. They add a personal and unique touch to every web page; however, not many sites know how to load them properly. The lack of proper loading practices leads to various performance issues, i.e. slow loading, swapped fonts, and blocked rendering.
Since web fonts send additional HTTP requests to the external sources, developers need to consider the following steps to ensure that the incorporated web fonts load properly:
- Preload the fonts
- Get rid of invisible text during the web font loading process.
- Make use of the most appropriate font format.
- Utilize the accurate font-face declaration.
You should also look into reducing the use of web fonts by picking out only such styles that are crucial to the working of your website.
6. Remove Redirects
Redirects are the best option when it comes to dealing with the issue of broken links. However, too many redirects can slow down the speed of your website to a crawl since it creates additional HTTP requests.
According to Google, every developer should eliminate redirects from their website. But this is not the ideal situation since redirects are crucial in various cases. The best approach to this situation is by finding all the redirects to your web pages. You can perform this step by using Screaming Frog.
This tool can help you in identifying all the necessary factors along with the useless redirects. Once you know which redirects are useless, you can start by deleting all of them while leaving only the crucial ones behind.
The Bottom Line
Whether you have employed PHP and MySQL web development services to acquire web application or have had your developers work on a website; the quick performance factor is quite dominant in both the services. Generally, any user will wait for a good 3-4 seconds before abandoning your website or web application. This means that you have a small window to impress your visitors with quick performance.
That said, certain factors can drag down the site’s speed which may cause serious problems for you in the long run. Since site speed is a crucial factor, we have mentioned a couple of techniques which you can implement to generate positive results.
These are our top recommendations but if you have something else in your mind which you think can work perfectly for you, then you can also experiment with them!