A fast-loading website is crucial to your online presence. If your website is slow and frustrating to use, people will bounce off your page. Your rankings will suffer as a result, and your target audience might be directed to your competitors’ websites that do provide a better user experience.
It’s not just the speed on desktops you have to worry about but speed on all devices. A responsive website adjusts to all screens, providing users with the same, seamless experiences. However, simply turning your existing website into a responsive one isn’t enough to bring your site to the top of the SERPs. You must work out all the kinks, and this includes speeding up your site.
Let’s discuss how speed impacts your website and the best ways to speed up your site.
How Speed Can Make or Break Your Site
The team at Skilled put together an infographic that reviews various websites and how they have improved their results by making minor speed improvements. Here are some of the eye-opening statistics that the team uncovered through their research.
In summary, having a slow-loading website can be detrimental to sales, conversions and the user experience. Fortunately, you don’t have to revamp your entire site to reap the benefits of faster loading pages. A few small tweaks here and there will allow you to work closer toward your goal of having an ultra fast and optimized website that meets your audience’s needs.
Minimize HTTP Requests
The majority of a web page’s loading time is spent downloading the various parts of the page: images, script, stylesheets, Flash. An HTTP request is made for each of these, so the more requests that need to be made, the longer it will take the web page to load.
With this in mind, one of the fastest ways to speed up your site is to decrease the number of HTTP requests. You can achieve this by streamlining the number of elements on your page, using CSS instead of images, combining multiple stylesheets into one and reducing scripts. Bottom line: Keep your pages lean.
Large pages that are stuffed with lots of content and images can be 100kb or more. This makes them bulky and slow to download. To fix this, you can zip the files together in a technique called compression. Because compression reduces the bandwidth of your pages, it results in fewer HTTP requests. The most common way to compress your files is with a tool called Gzip.
Enable Browser Caching
When visiting a website, the elements on your page are stored on your hard drive in temporary storage. This way, the next time you visit the site, your browser can load it without having to resend another HTTP request. To speed up load times, enable caching. Here is a great article on how to optimize your site with HTTP caching.
Images should be added to your website, but do be mindful of their size, format and src attribute.
Too many plugins can create security issues, resulting in crashes or other technical problems. Go through your plugins and delete or deactivate the ones you don’t need. For those that you want to keep, determine if any are a drain on your speed. You can then decide if it’s worth keeping the plugin and compromising slower load times.
Redirects create additional HTTP requests so you want to keep them to a minimum whenever possible. If you converted your website into a responsive design, it’s likely that you have redirects bringing users from your main site to your responsive one.
To streamline redirects to your mobile site, use an HTTP redirect to send users directly to the mobile equivalent URL. For more information on the technicalities of switching to a mobile friendly site without affecting speed, check out this post from Verve Search.
As you can see, speed is an important factor for the user experience, and one that cannot be overlooked. However, if you aren’t technically savvy, resolving speed issues can be a bit intimidating. You might want to enlist some help from a web development company like WSI Net Advantage. We’re happy to assess your site’s performance and how to make speed improvements. Call us today at 510-687-9737 or fill out our contact form for your FREE consultation.
Kevin Dean, President of WSI Net Advantage...
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