47% of consumers want a web page to load in two seconds or less.
That means that you need to work on your website speed performance if you don’t want to lose customers, clients and also web traffic.
In this article I will tell you how to optimize your load speed when building or improving a website.
1. Why Website Performance Matters
As I said in the introduction, people nowadays don’t have the time or the patience to wait for a website to load: they want the info, and they want it now!
Besides this factor, there are multiple ones why your website should be performant. I am going to give you six more reasons why you should improve your website performance:
Building brand awareness: people will love your website and, as a consequence, your brand, if you show them quality through your website speed. If loading takes too much, they will go to your competition to find the same product and buy it.
Gaining credibility: your website is one of the first elements that you show to your audience, so do it right.
Supporting business goals: you can showcase your products, processes and teams; you can show your audience your history and your future.
Leveraging social networks: a great amount of traffic on websites comes from social media. So don’t be afraid to post your website on several channels.
Facilitating customer convenience: you can offer your customers support through your website, actually, I advise you to do so, in order to build confidence among potential customers.
2. How to increase your website performance
There are multiple ways to speed up your website’s performance and I will give you some examples in the following lines.
a Understand what a CDN is and how you can use it
Incapsula has a very good definition of what a CDN is, and I would like to share my thoughts with you.
A CDN, or content delivery network, can be considered as the backbone of the Internet in charge of content delivery. To prevent lags when reaching a website, publishers use CDNs in order to store a cached version of content in several locations of the world.
For example, if you have an US website, people that reach it from Indonesia use CDNs to reach the website in a less amount of time.
Its goal is to shorten the physical distance between the location of the server and the user that wants a content to be delivered on time. What it does is to store content in multiple locations of the world – also known as points of presence or PoPs – in order to create coverage for users.
Who can use a CDN?
Basically almost every user and publisher nowadays use CDNs. Languages are not a big barrier anymore, as users all over the world speak, for example, English, both parts of the story use CDNs whether they know it or not.
As good as a CDN is for a general use when servers are at distance, it might be an inconvenient for the websites that serve local users, as it adds an unessential connection between a nearby server and the user.
Besides all the advantages that CDNs offer when it comes to increase your website loading performance, there are also other advantages that they offer, such as:
website security: it acts as a virtual security fence and prevent attacks on your website or app;
load balancing: this means having a kind of traffic guard which alternate the flow of incoming requests.
So if you have a website that has an international reach, try using CDNs for fastening your website.
b. Minimize HTTP Requests
Websites loading time is done by downloading the information on the specific website: styles, scripts, images. A download is made for each element at a time, so the more elements you have on your website, the more time it takes to load.
One active point would be to have a simple design, make your website leaner and give the necessary info only.
c. Enable compression
When it comes to creating or improving a website, the code behind it is the magic key that helps it be more reachable.
If you are not the developer of the website, talk to yours and explain him why all there coding issues matter.
d. Enable Browser Caching
Caches are the elements of a website that, after visiting one, remain hidden on your user’s drive in order to allow the website to load faster the next time the visitor enters your website.
Don’t forget to set the cache lifetime for at least a week. Because this has been calculated as the span time that a user is about to visit your website more than one time.
e. Resources should be minified
As I already said briefly before, when writing the code for your website, try to minify it, using different tools for different programming languages. Some examples would be:
So I will give you some tips on how to increase usability by setting specific image features:
image format: recommendation is to use JPEG or PNG files; GIFs are recommended to be used with a 3 palette colour and less than 10 x 10 pixels;
image size: never use raw images that are 1500 pixels wide. Try to adjust the image size to your webpage’s size. For example, if your page is 640 px wide, adjust the image to that size, so that it looks good when displaying.
g. Optimise CSS Delivery
Use the CSS external delivery for a clear code and, therefore, for a faster page load. The external style sheet reduces the amount of code and eliminates most of the duplicates.
I also give you two tools that tell you how many resources a website is using and instructions for combining external CSS files:
Security is an important aspect of any website, and users are now becoming smarter with their web browsing habits. This means you should ensure top-notch security through secure HTTP, which can be done through Secure Sockets Layer / Transport Layer Security (or SSL/TLS).
However, this adds some extra latency when the client makes a “handshake” with the server, wherein the initial communication goes back and forth a few times.
You can optimize the SSL handshakes through the use of a CDN, as mentioned above, since it will be the CDN that does the handshake for you.
As an added benefit, this also significantly enhances security by ensuring that the client sees a grade-A certificate regardless of your own server’s certificate type
i. Prioritise Above-the-fold Content
We, as marketers, should know the importance of the above-the-fold content and also how to prioritize it.
Always post the most important information on your website above-the-fold, because there might be users that won’t read a full article if it is very long.
Do the same with the page loading: do in such a way as the top of the page loads faster and then the rest continuously, as the user scrolls down to see the rest of the content.
You can do this by improving the CSS of your website.
j. The Number of Plugins on Your Website Should Be Basic
As in any other situation, the more info you upload, the more it decreases the page loading speed. It is the same with the plugins on your website: consider them as other resources that have to load, besides images, styles and other ones that I have already talked about.
So having multiple plugins on your website both decreases the page loading speed, but they might also cause security issues or page crashes.
Be very careful when choosing which plugins stay and which are not that necessary.
i. Reduce redirects
Usually, redirects use some additional HTML requests, so it is normal that they need more resources in order to function.
Try to make your website responsive, so that when you send users to the mobile website, they are not redirected through an intermediate.
Website page loading speed is maybe the most important feature that you should take into account when promoting your business, whether it is just online, offline or both online and offline.
Your website is the first impression that a user might see when looking for your business online. So you want to look professional when getting in touch with potential customers.
The tips that I have gathered for you are useful and as soon as you start using them, you will see an improvement in interactions and sales.
Some of the tips might sound very technical, but there are solutions for this: you either look for more information on Google, or you can talk to your developer, as he knows better what to do with the code without damages.
I encourage you to look carefully to the features your website offers and try to optimize it as soon as possible.
It is not always only about the information you provide, it is also about the looks and the speed.
So be professional in every possible way you can be and your users will love you.