Content loading – the most infuriating symbol on the internet, and one which will lose you customers. Every second counts, and ideally a webpage should load in less than 0.3 seconds to provide the feel of (almost) instant loading. Any longer – and your potential client will have gone.
Follow our golden rules to make sure your site is super speedy
1. Enable caching
Browser caching speeds things up by storing these static parts of your site on your visitor’s computer, so that they don’t have to wait for these parts of the site to load every time they visit your page. It is especially useful for return visitors and those who visit multiple pages on your website
Even though these ‘cached’ elements rarely change, it’s still worth refreshing pages occasionally to ensure you have the latest version – to do this, simply press F5.
2. Compress files
The bigger your page, the longer it takes to download, especially over slower connections. Images and film are usually the culprits and will really slow your site down if they are too big.
- Ideally optimise images before uploading them to your site by using a photo editing application such as Photoshop or online tools such as Smushit to reduce the size.
- You can also compress files using an optimiser plugin on the website. We use GZIP. But don’t over compress your images – if they are too small they will look fuzzy.
3. Design wisely
When designing the webpage layout, take care to consider how your content loads on the page. ‘Above the fold’ content (i.e. content you can see before you have to scroll down the page) should load first, followed by everything else. This creates the impression of a fast webpage, as long as the rest loads quickly. You can also create the illusion of a fast web page by using animation to reveal content.
Avoid using lots of different fonts across the site and choose wisely. The wrong font can affect the download speed, for example Google Fonts download faster than Adobe Typekit.
4. Avoid redirects
This is when you type in a URL and are directed to a page with a different URL. Redirects are often used when you have multiple domain names and want to make sure they all lead to the same location. For example, we have a redirect set up from when we installed an SSL certificate – so people who type in the URL – http://www.alberon.co.uk are now directed to the more secure – https://www.alberon.co.uk,
But each new request takes time and too many could affect your download speed.
You can check for redirects on your pages by using the redirect mapper tool. It detects 301 (pages that have moved permanently) and 302 (pages that have moved temporarily).
5. Prevent plugin overload
Content management plugins can add additional functionality and features to your website. But be wary of adding too many plugins, as the more you have the longer it can take to load, slowing up your website’s download speed.
- Reduce the number of plugins you have wherever possible – remove any that duplicate functionality, are out of date or no longer used.
- Test to see if any are affecting your speed by deactivating them then measuring performance.
If you are not sure how quickly your website will download, why test not it? Check your page performance – aim for a score of 90+.
6. Fast hosting
If your hosting is slow, then no matter what else you do, your site will be sluggish. Server hardware can play a big role in the performance of your website. Unfortunately, most hosts do not disclose the server specs used on their shared hosting plans, so it can be difficult to determine which web host uses the best servers. There are a few things worth checking to ensure you maintain the best download speed for your website:
- Host your website on a server in the same country as your target audience.
- Move to a dedicated server. Sharing a server with other websites may keep costs down but it will also slow down your site, especially if you experience a spike in traffic for any reason, such as a publicity campaign. If the server can’t handle the traffic it could even bring the site down. Having a dedicated server will give you more bandwidth to make the website run quicker.
- You consider Virtual Private Server (VPS) or Cloud Servers which enable you to scale as and when you need the resource, rather than being restricted by the limitations of a physical server. They draw from a pool of processing power, memory and storage depending on your requirement.
We recommend our own hosting service, which you can rely on for 24/7 speed and security