Page loading time is, without a doubt, one of the most important factors of your website’s user experience. Your site may have a nice aesthetic design, new nifty functionality and great content, but if it’s loading slowly you’ll definitely have difficulty reaching your website conversion goals.
The fact is no one likes a slow loading website; and many people, including you, will never go back to a website that loads slowly after visiting it. According to research, 40 percent of web users will abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Approximately 80 percent of online shoppers who have trouble with website speed performance say they will not return to the ecommerce site to buy again and about 44 percent of them will tell a friend or colleague if they had a bad shopping experience online.
Statistics have also shown that a one-second delay in website loading time leads to: 11 percent fewer page views; a 16 percent decrease in website user satisfaction; and a 7 percent loss in conversions!
What’s more Google takes a site’s loading time into account when doing their rankings. That means slower load times are not just a frustrating experience that may cost you potential customers and conversions, but also something that could negatively impact your Google rankings.
So, how do you improve your website’s load times to achieve your online goals?
9 Tips To Make Your Website Faster
1. Reduce HTTP Requests
Minimizing HTTP requests should be a priority when trying to reduce the front-end load time. This is because the largest part of the web response time (around 80%) is tied up in HTTP requests that must be made in order to download the different components of a web page. You must reduce these requests if you want to increase your website’s speed performance.
To minimize HTTP requests, you need to simplify your web design so that less time is spent downloading the different elements of your page – images, flash, scripts, stylesheets, and so on. An HTTP request is loaded by your web page for each of these on-page components, so the fewer the elements, the faster it takes for your website to load.
Some of the simplest ways to simplify your web design and minimize the number of HTTP requests made by the browser to download your page include:
– Reducing the number of elements on each page
– Streamlining the number of design elements on your site
– Using CSS text instead of images whenever possible
– Combining images into as few files as possible using CSS sprites
– Taking all the scripts and piling them into a single script
– Combining all CSS files into one
– Cleaning up your code by putting all CSS code in your external stylesheet in order to optimize CSS for faster page rendering delivery. Only using a single CSS stylesheet helps minimize the size of your code and ensures fewer code duplications and HTTP requests
– Minimizing scripts and ensuring they are at the bottom of the web page
– Enabling HTTP “keep – alive” response headers
By implementing these tips, you can minimize the amount of supportive files your site loads by loading as less of them as possible. This will, in turn, make your website load faster and improve its performance.
2. Reduce Redirects
Another way to reduce HTTP requests is minimizing redirects. You should also try to avoid redirects as much as possible. If you have already built a responsive website, you should consider sending mobile users directly to your mobile equivalent URL using a HTTP redirect instead of utilizing a responsive redirect. Using intermediate redirects slows your site and this is not what you want. Alternatively, you can let Googlebot find your mobile pages by identifying your mobile equivalent URL so it can direct mobile users to those pages. To enable Googlebot to find and identify your mobile equivalent URL, simply include the <link rel=”alternate”> markup in your desktop pages.
3. Minimize Server Response Time
Use a faster web server to boost the speed performance of your site. Your site’s response time should not be more than 200 milliseconds. There are a number of monitoring tools that you can utilize to gauge and keep track of your site’s performance. These include resources like Google’s PageSpeed Tools and Yslow. Be sure to make use of these web-based tools to enhance your pages speed performance.
4. Leverage Browser Caching
When a user visits your website, the components of the page – which include the HTML file, stylesheets, scripts, images, flash and more – are stored in their hard drive or temporary storage. This allows the browser to load the page without the need for sending a new HTTP request, which in turn helps speed things up for subsequent visits. Typically, your first-time visitors will come to your website with an empty cache, and you’ll need to make your page load fast for these visitors and also enable caching to ensure a faster load time when they return to your site.
6. Enable Compression
Creating useful, high-quality content often results in large pages for your website. These pages are typically bulky and take a long time to load, slowing your site. To speed up your site, you should use GZIP, a compression algorithm, to compress these large files. This will reduce the bandwidth requirements of your pages, thereby minimizing HTTP response. Most web servers and browsers support Gzip, and using this software application can greatly enhance the performance of your site.
You can learn more about Gzip compression online.
7. Optimize Images
Oversized images decrease page load time. Use specialized photo editing tools to crop and resize your images to the correct size and set color depth to the appropriate level. If your web page is 1000 x 1000 pixels, crop your image to these dimensions. Don’t upload a 2000 x 2000 pixels image and then set the parameters at 1000 x 1000 pixels, since this will definately slow the page load time.
Removing image comments and avoiding empty image src will also help ensure images load faster.
If you have many images on your web page, use CSS sprite to combine images into one single image This will minimize the number of roundtrips of the server, request overhead, and the total number of bytes a web page downloads. Through the use of CSS sprites, you can combine all background images on a page into one, thereby improving the loading time and performance of your web page.
8. Avoid Too Many Plugins
Use only those plugins that are “absolutely necessary” for your site. Don’t incorporate those poor quality plugins that add extra database queries to your site or those that have to perform complex operations. And disable any plugins that may be hurting your website’s speed performance.
9. Prioritize Above-The-Fold Content
Many users won’t leave your site if the above-the-fold content has already loaded. So if you cannot use a single external CSS stylesheet, you can boost your site’s user experience by ensuring that your top-of-the-page loads faster. This will require you to split your main stylesheet into two files: a short inline CSS part to style the above-the-fold components and an external part that styles the rest of the web page – which may take several seconds more for it to load.
Another way to make your page load faster is using a content delivery network (or CDN) to spread your static content. A CDN consists of a collection of servers that work together from different locations across the globe. It helps ensure the quickest server response time for your site by ensuring that cached files are delivered to the user from locations that are closest to them; and by delivering content that is without cookies.