How Can I Improve My Website Speed?
Page speed, also known as ‘page load time’, is the amount of time that it takes for a page to load on the web. It is a critical element when it comes to increasing your rankings, user experience and conversions. Google recommends that a good page should load in under two seconds, therefore it comes as no surprise that the longer it takes your page to load, the likelihood of someone bouncing from your website increases dramatically.
How do I check the speed of my website?
Improving your score
If your website scores 90-100%, then congratulations your website is fast! However, if you’ve noticed that your pages are loading slowly and killing your traffic and conversions, we have provided some useful beginners tips that typically help most unoptimised websites boost the overall score.
- Use caching – A cache is a component that temporarily stores data including HTML pages, files, images etc. This is so that when hundreds and thousands of users view a website each month, the server can simply remember the final result without having to reload the entire page every time. There are two types of caching and it’s important you know the difference – server and browser.
Browser caching: When you visit a website, your browser will download a number of resources that make up the website – layout, styling, fonts, images and more. Using browser caching will allow computers to store this information, so that the next time a user visits your website the browser won’t need to retrieve everything, resulting in a significant decrease in load time. This is useful when loading a site that you have previously visited.
Server caching: While browser caching is delivered on the user side, server caching is directly done on the server. When you visit a site (especially online shops) the server will need to answer a lot of queries, for example how many products are there?, what are the products?, what are the prices? etc. This can become a huge problem if the website attracts a lot of traffic and the server has to process every request. That’s why if you use server caching, the server will take a snapshot of your site and store this information without having to make those requests again.
- Optimise your images – We always recommend optimising your images before uploading them to a website to ensure they do not slow down your page. Firstly, it is vital to make sure you are using the right file type (whether that’s JPEG, PNG or SVG) as using the wrong format can considerably add weight and size to your photos. We often see plenty of heavy-weight images across the web and opting for SVGs where possible can meet the current demands of responsiveness, scalability and interactivity as they do not rely on pixels to create the images you see. SVGs use ‘vector’ data which can generate many types of graphics that can often achieve the same results as PNGs (but are more user friendly!).
It is also important to find the right balance between size and resolution when resizing and compressing your images, as the larger your photo is the longer it will take for your page to load. Photopea and TinyPNG are great free tools to use and can help resize and compress images without losing quality.
- Don’t download too many plugins and extensions – Most Content Management Systems (CMS) offer the option to add third-party modules/plugins/extensions/add-ons which enables rapid deployment of new features to your website with minimum effort and coding know-how. As appealing as some of these plugins may be, these often come with their own CSS/JS files which increases the requests and files the user has to download when visiting a webpage. This can also cause conflicts with your existing site and affect your overall performance and speed. Before installing a plugin, always ask yourself ‘do I really need it?’, ‘does it look reliable?’ and ‘is it still supported?’.
- Avoid using too many external scripts – There are many pros to using external scripts. They allow you to track website data in Google Analytics and Facebook, insert live chat boxes to your website and host videos from YouTube, etc. While these make great additions to your site, they of course also come with some cons too! Using too many external scripts can cause issues with your website load time, as the files are downloaded from external resources (web-services on other servers across the internet). You will also often find that 5+ files need to be downloaded for just 1 piece of software. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you test each script to ensure your pages can load quickly and without any issues.
- Get Good Hosting – If you want to receive a good amount of traffic to your website and plenty of conversions, then you are going to need to choose a bespoke and reliable website management company to ensure your website is protected and always in check. Not having this in place can considerably slow down your performance, especially if the server is slow and your site takes a while to load quickly.
- Implement Lazy Loading – Lazy loading is a technique where images will only begin to load once the user scrolls down to view them. It can also come in handy for mobile, as lazy loading can prevent browsers from loading files that are designed for other devices including desktop and tablet. This can help save your visitors money on data and help maintain battery life.
Need help achieving this? To really get the best scores for your website there is a range of technical enhancements that need to be actioned. It’s also important to remember that every website is different, so it’s best to seek professional help and guidance from an expert who knows their stuff!
If you have any questions or would like us to take a look at your existing website, contact our team – we’re more than happy to help point you in the right direction.