How many times did you feel your annoyance grow proportionally to the amount of time you had to wait for a website to load? Often enough. And you’re not the only one – a website’s load time can have a huge impact on how users perceive the brand and its products or services. Ensuring a swift upload of your website is one of your main tasks – here are some guidelines on how to do this and never get annoyed by a long load time again.
Why Speed Up Your Website At All?
If you’ve never thought about load time and how it can affect the conversion rate of your website, it’s time to consider it now. Countless studies have already demonstrated that the two are connected. In a recent infographic, WebpageFX showed how a 1 second improvement in page loading time can lead to a 7% increase in conversion rate.
That might seem an extreme case, but consider this: 83% of users expect a website to load in 3 seconds or less. A longer load time will affect their perception of the brand, inspire them to share the bad experience with friends, or simply be much less likely (by 77%!) to buy something from this website again.
In short, slow load time negatively impacts user experience, the number of page views, your SEO and finally, the conversion rate of your website. That’s why it’s high time you considered speeding up your website – you can only gain by doing it.
Here are some techniques for reducing the time users have to wait until your website is in full function.
Limit HTTP Requests
One thing is clear – the majority of website load time is spent on loading its various parts, such as scripts, Flash, images or style-sheets. For each and every of those elements, there’s an HTTP request made – consequently, the more elements you’ve got on you page, the more requests will be made and the longer your loading process will become.
What to do? Limit the number of components on your page by using CSS, combine multiple elements into one, reduce scripts and locating them on the bottom of a page and simply streamline the overall number of page elements.
There’s no better way to reduce load time than to optimize your images. Keep your images as small as you can – crop them, get rid of image comments and edit them to make them leaner. Avoid BMP and TIFF file formats – opt instead for JPG, PNG, and GIF (just small graphics). Make sure to include the scr attribute in the code – without a source, the browser will make a request and take a lot of time to load whatever visuals there are.
The best way to deal with large pages is to compress them. Simple, yet effective. Use Gzip to reduce the bandwidth of your pages and limit HTTP responses. Generally, the majority of web browsers support Gzip format and can help you in speeding up your site.
If your site relies on too many plugins, you’re in for trouble – they not only slow down the page loading, but can crash or cause security problems. Make sure you’re using only the plugins that are really necessary. After getting rid of the redundant ones, have a look at the ones you need to see whether they affect the load time of your page. Disable them and test server performance to see which ones can cause your website to load slowly.
Given the popularity of WordPress, it’s more than likely that there are things unique to this platform you can alter that will affect the load time of WordPress blogs and websites – for a detailed checklist, have a look here.
Other than that, there are plenty of tools out there to help you measure your page load. To learn more about the practice and how the speeding up processes can be automated, have a look at Google’s PageSpeed Tools.
Monique Rivers is an Australian tech blogger who also loves good food and fashion. She works at ninefold.com. Ninefold is a powerful Ruby on Rails platform, that allows you to deploy Rails apps quickly and easily.