When you create a website the hope is that many users will visit your website and stay for a while, perhaps resulting in some sort of conversion like a product purchase or a newsletter sign-up. However, if your website doesn’t load quickly there’s a great chance that your visitors will immediately give up and hit the back button. In today’s technologically-advanced society users are expecting quick delivery of information and if your website doesn’t load within a couple of seconds you’re potentially losing sales. Studies from Amazon confirm this, reporting that a simple 100 millisecond improvement in speed increased their revenue by 1%.
With this information in mind, here are some simple tips to improve the speed of your website:
- Enable Browser Caching: When someone visits your website, the elements of your webpage are stored temporarily on your hard drive in a process known as caching. Caching allows users to come back to your website without having to re-download those page elements, creating a much speedier experience. While this doesn’t speed up your user’s initial visit, it will certainly speed up any subsequent visits they may make to your site.
- Optimize Images: The easiest way to optimize images is to make sure your images are a reasonable size in the correct format. One of the quickest ways to have an unnecessarily large file size is to save a picture at 2000px by 2000px size when you’re only using it for a 500px by 500px space. Cut down on the file size by already exporting the image as the smaller pixel size. You can also make sure that your file is saved in the correct format; while the PNG format is my personal favorite it also exports at the largest file size, and so you’re better off sticking with the GIF format for small, flat graphics and the JPG format for your photographs.
- Optimize Stylesheets: There are two ways that you can implement CSS onto your website: 1) externally, through an external stylesheet dedicated to CSS code, or 2) internally, using inline CSS that is intermingled with your HTML code. Out of these two options, the best option is to use external stylesheets; it reduces the size of your code and you’ll avoid accidentally duplicating your code, especially if you keep all your CSS code in one stylesheet file.
- Reduce Redirects: There are at least three ways a redirect can occur: 1) you direct URL to a new, updated location, 2) you direct users to a mobile version of your website when on a mobile device, and 3) you leave off the trailing slash on directory-pointed links. Having too many redirects can greatly increase your website’s loading speed, so keep these redirects to an absolute minimum.
So is your website fast enough? You can get started by testing your website on WebSiteOptimization, which will give you a report on potential problems while giving you recommendations on what areas to improve on.