A survey by Akamai, an American cloud computing company, states that close to 53% of website visitors tend to abandon a mobile site if it takes more than three seconds to load. In the era of interconnected tech and the Internet of Things (IoT), nothing is more frustrating than a slow website. Website speed matters for business performance! A poor performing website can lead to negative user experience and brand impressions. The first impression of a website is extremely important, low-speed indices can lead to high bounce rates. Causing a ripple effect of unimpressive website performance, which can lead to poor search engine rankings, and also have an adverse effect on customer loyalty and business bottom lines.
Today, website performance is tightly linked to the user experience. With end-user patience level dipping constantly every year, it is imperative for businesses to take proactive steps to speed-optimize their website to deliver superior user experience instantaneously and make it work faster on all devices.
Though there are various ways and techniques available that can help you speed up your website performance but it is best to conduct a website speed test that can provide you with key page insights of your website.
Read on to find out 8 techniques that can make your website load faster.
Table of ContentAnalyzing the Infrastructure Requirements
Improve Website Hosting
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Optimizing CSS and JS Files
Minimize 301 Redirects and Fix 404 Errors
Impact of Website Speed Optimisation
1. Analyzing the Infrastructure Requirements
One of the top reasons contributing to the slow website performance is inadequate hardware infrastructure and/or software architecture components supporting the website. Due to the competitive nature of web applications, often organizations get wrapped up in rapid application development and deployment of the website, thus leaving only a little time for thorough technical planning. However, such a website fails to deliver performance and results in unpredictable and unsatisfactory user experience.
Therefore, it is important that businesses analyze, provision, deploy and test hardware allocated for the website to maximize its performance. Regular monitoring of the website performance enables the owners to identify the website’s real-time usage patterns based on the size and content type, identify bottlenecks and scale infrastructure accordingly to handle unpredictable traffic.
2. Improve Website Hosting
Hosting plays a crucial role in website performance. The demand for cost-effective web hosting services is increasing rapidly.
However, not investing adequately in hosting your website can lead to frequent website crashes, lower conversions, and a bad reputation. There are so many examples of popular websites that have crashed in the past. Canadian Immigration website crashed in 2016 after the US elections as many disappointed Americans were planning to immigrate to Canada. Similarly, Macy’s website and mobile app crashed during black friday sale.
There are three types of hosting services available today.
- Shared hosting: Without a doubt, shared hosting is the cheapest way to take your website online. If you have a blog then shared hosting will be suitable. For better optimization, you should always select a fast web hosting service provider.
- Virtual Private Servers (VPS) hosting: Virtual Private Servers (VPS) distribute content through several servers based in different geographical locations. In VPS, despite sharing the server with other users you own a part of the server that will not get influenced by traffic received by other users. If you are running an eCommerce website with few traffic spikes in a day then VPS is ideal for you.
- Dedicated servers: There are dedicated servers which means you have a server of your own. You need to pay server rent and hire a system administrator to run and maintain it. This type of server is ideal for websites that receive huge traffic. You can even go with public cloud resource providers like Google, Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, etc. With a usage-based pricing model, cloud resource providers are the best as they can provide on-demand and unlimited scalability.
Alternatively, you can also go for serverless architecture that can set aside server maintenance and setup costs. Adopting such technology means you outsource all your server related operations to the third party. There are so many brands like Nike, Airbnb, BBC, Netflix, etc., that are currently using serverless architecture to fuel their website.
Thus, investing time and money on choosing a suitable hosting provider with a stable infrastructure and scalability is the key to maintaining high-performance websites.
A good and stable hosting allows the technical team to focus more on bringing new business features instead of worrying about the network and infrastructure issues.
3. Database Optimization
While there are a plethora of factors that can affect website performance, one of the critical factors is the underlying database that maintains the dynamic content of the website. Website owners need to analyse database logs to optimize the slow running queries. Many CMS tables store regular audit logs which need to be cleaned and from time to time to improve overall performance of the web application.
Many times, especially when scaling up/out of business, there is a high tendency to create performance issues at the database layer. However, leveraging in-memory caching solutions such as Memcached and Redis can help the website to cache content and reduce the load on database servers. Scaling up of the database as well as Master-slave architecture is also helpful in many situations.
Similarly put, Content Management System (CMS) has a range of complex plugins, and if used extensively, can reduce the speed of your website. Let’s take an example of WordPress which stores blog posts, comments and a lot of other data on the website that significantly bog down its speed. CMS requires their own set of optimization methodologies.
Taking advantage of browser caching capabilities can significantly improve the website performance. The browser stores copies of static components and resources for faster access which helps in reducing the traffic on primary servers.
It is recommended that businesses with high-traffic sites must also leverage various other forms of server-side caching such as Varnish cache, especially when it comes to website performance optimization. Additional improvement can be made by using the caching at Load Balancer level or taking help of reverse proxy servers. A load balancer helps in distributing the website traffic or users on the site among various servers based on algorithms like Round-robin, lead used, etc.
Similarly, for WordPress websites, you can use plugins like W3 Super Cache, W3 Total Cache, etc., for caching. You can select a caching option in your general settings if you are using VPS or dedicated server.
5. Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Using a CDN can speed up and deliver your static file and assets more efficiently to the end-user improving the overall website performance. A CDN is a group of optimized web servers distributed across multiple locations to deliver content to the end-user effectively. Leveraging a CDN server for your website can dramatically reduce the latency as it provides the web content to the users based on their geographic location. A CDN can typically store all the website related files, content, and assets such as JS files, Images, CSS files and uploaded resources like PDFs, videos, etc. This is a bit expensive yet it can drastically improve your website’s load time
Some of the common CDNs available are:
- Amazon CloudFront
6. Image Optimization
As per Hubspot blog, ‘creative infographics alone can surge your web traffic by 12%’. A website with no images can look boring, but large unoptimized images on your website can hamper its speed dramatically. Making the images of your website internet-friendly can significantly improve the site performance. Hence, it is essential that developers optimize the images before finally uploading them on the website.
Outlined below are some of the best practices for image optimization:
- Compressing all the images
- Use premium or online tools to optimize images like – Adobe Photoshop, Gimp, Picresize, ImagOptim, etc.
- Changing the resolution of the images
- Use images in JPEG format
- Reformatting images by using attributes of HTML responsive images
7. Optimizing CSS and JS Files
- White spaces
- Newline characters
- Any comments
- Block delimiters
8. Minimize 301 Redirects and Fix 404 Errors
Redirecting to a new URL can slow down the performance of your website drastically. Redirect triggers, additional HTTP request adds latency to the request when loading the HTML document. Hence, it is recommended that businesses should avoid using redirects whenever possible.
A 404/401 error is generated for any missing file or broken links of the website which can be taxing for the website speed. It is advised that the website owner monitors the broken links and fixes them as soon as possible. There are plenty of online tools available that can help you analyze and identify the broken links on your website such as Online Broken Link Checker, WordPress link checker, Screaming Frog, etc.
Apart from these there are few other methods that you can use like prefetching, compressing through Gzip, avoiding web fonts, etc., for boosting your website speed. The prefetching technique can only be successful if you can anticipate the behavior of your visitors. Modern browsers have an in-built feature of prefetching as they can predict user behavior. Similarly, compressing large HTTP files is a must as they can drastically reduce server response time and can negatively affect your website. Compressing HTTP files through Gzip is a great way to improve server response time and the compressed files get unzipped by web browsers. In the same way, web fonts definitely add to the beauty of websites however it leads to additional HTTP requests which greatly increase load time of the website.
Impact of Website Speed Optimisation
We all live in an experience economy, where it is only the experience that differentiates an organization to sell and create a recall for their products and services. Here are 4 major reasons to invest in website speed optimization.
1. Superior User Experience
There is no doubt that high page load times can spoil user experience. With declining patience level and paucity of time, low performing websites are not able to survive for long a time. From an SEO standpoint, search engines do not appreciate websites with low speeds, because the entire logic behind SERP rankings is to ensure the users get maximum value from the results.
2. Customer Loyalty
Superior customer experience leads to higher loyalty by visitors and customers. As per a report by Unbounce, a Canadian software company, ‘46% people strongly dislike waiting for websites to load’. If your website has been optimised for speed then you must have witnessed an improvement in engagement by your customers.
3. Business Findability & Visibility
More people will be able to discover your website only if you continuously strive to optimize your website for speed. Website speed and performance is one of the key parameters for ranking in google search results.Google punishes those websites that are not speed optimized and takes more than the average load time. As per Wordstream ‘ page speed has always been a ranking factor on SERP’s since 2009’.
4. Increasing Conversions
Conversions are the key success factor of any business. The speed and performance of your website hit conversions the most. It has been proven that the faster the speed of page, the more conversions will be. As per Hubspot blog ‘A web page slowdown of just a second can costs $1.6 billion to Amazon in revenues’ and ‘an increase in latency by 100 milliseconds to 400 milliseconds can lead to falling in search volume by 0.2% to 0.6%’.
Implementing these bunch of website performance optimization techniques can be time-consuming and can seem like a never-ending task. However, applying these can bring a significant improvement in the delivery and speed of your website.
Organizations should remember that increasing page speed can enable you to provide superior user experience, boost your customer engagement, loyalty and ultimately revenues of your business.