An increasingly crucial element of both user experience – UX and search engine optimization – SEO, is to have a fast loading website.
Amazon reported that for every 100 milliseconds they speed up their website, they see a 1% increase in revenue. Then Google announced, in an effort to improve the web, that page speed was a consideration in how they rank search results.
As websites continue to evolve to become much more complex and content-heavy, it’s important to make sure your website is optimised to reduce page load speed as much as possible. There are numerous factors that affect website speed and you may require a proficient web developer, but there are a few tweaks that you can do toy significantly reduce page load speed.
1. Use a CDN – Content Delivery Network
Hosting your media files on a content delivery network is one of the best ways to speed up your site.
CDNs work by hosting your files across a large network of servers around the World. When a user visits your site from say Singapore, they are downloading files from the server that is closest to them. A good example is Cloudflare.
2. Change web hosting
Changing web hosts has the potential to have a bigger impact than all of the ‘tweaks’ below combined. If you’re using a mediocre or low quality web hosting company, stop reading and change your hosting company or plan now.
3. Use a caching plugin
One of the quickest and easiest ways to cut your page loading speed is to install a caching plugin.
4. Use a good theme
Prevention is usually a better strategy than cure. To prevent lots of page speed issues in the first place, you should opt for a good host, a good CDN, and good theme/design.
5. Optimise your images/video
Be sure that your images are no larger than they need to be, that they are in the right file format (PNGs are generally used for images with transparency while JPEGs are generally better for photographs) and that they are compressed for the web.
6. Fix all broken links
Broken links are not only a drain on bandwidth, but they’re also one of the surest ways to get a user to leave your site. You will see a noticeable decrease in bounce rate.
7. Minify your CSS and JS files
There are several ways to minify your files.
The second aspect on minifying involves deleting white space and making your files smaller.
8. Replace PHP with static HTML where possible
PHP is great for making your site efficient and reducing the need to enter the same information multiple times. However, calling information through PHP uses up server resource and should be replaced with static HTML where it doesn’t save any time.
9. Link to your stylesheets, don’t use @import
Similarly to the point above, @import uses up more resource than directly linking to your stylesheets despite achieving the exact same result. Another reason why not to use @import is that some of the older browsers do not support it, so it’s best to avoid it where possible.
10. Switch off all plugins you don’t use
With WordPress sites, plugins are usually the biggest culprit for slowing the site down. If there are any plugins that you’re no longer using or aren’t essential, delete them.
11. Enable Keep-Alive
HTTP Keep Alive refers to the message that’s sent between the client machine and the web server asking for permission to download a file. Enabling Keep Alive allows the client machine to download multiple files without repeatedly asking permission, which helps to save bandwidth.
How fast is fast enough?
Optimising your page speed can be quite a process, similar to running on a treadmill. There will always be room for improvement, so when should we be satisfied?
To look into your website’s page loading performance, you can use these guidelines:
Below 1 second = perfect
1-3 seconds = above average
3-7 seconds = average
7+ seconds = very poor