How to Make Your Website Load Faster
There is nothing more annoying than trying to view a slow loading website!
Well, that is not necessarily completely true, I find the constant flood of telemarketing calls I receive very annoying as well.
But as far as browsing the world wide web goes, slow loading websites is definitely up there as one of the most frustrating.
Search engines have made a concerted effort to encourage web masters to make their websites as fast as possible.
This is because a faster loading website creates a better user experience which is more likely to encourage users to return another day.
How Do I Make My Website Fast?
There are several things which you can do, but before we get to work we will need to analyse your website in greater detail.
First we will need to find the specific areas of your website which are letting you down.
Once this is done, you can begin to take the necessary steps to correct the problem.
Analysing Your Website Load Speed Time
There are a few tools I would recommend using to analyse your website:
Please keep in mind that your results may vary between the different testing tools. This can be as a result of having different testing metrics and their testing servers being located in different locations around the world.
After you have analysed your website the next thing I would suggest doing is cleaning house.
This is the process of going through every file within your website and removing any unused code, images, videos etc
Doing this will help to reduce the amount of code the browser is required to download when a user is visiting your site.
In turn, this will help remove 'wastage' and will improve your website loading time.
When most of us begin our quest on creating the ultimate website, we do it on a budget.
This is the main reason we usually go for cheaper hosting providers.
Unfortunately, it is usually one of those cases where you get what you pay for.
Why Does Cheaper Hosting Make My Website Slow?
First we should understand what website hosting actually is.
For a website to be found on the world wide web it has to have a ‘home’. This ‘home’ is generally known as a server.
When a person enters your URL into their browser, the first thing the browser will do is search for your server address.
Cheaper hosting providers tend to stack hundreds and sometimes even thousands of websites onto the same server.
The problem this creates is that you will typically have tens of thousands of requests coming from browsers all over the world trying to download information from the same server.
This inevitably, will cause your web pages to take a longer time to download onto the users computer.
The more expensive hosting providers however, will typically provide more ‘space’ on the server, making it easier for browsers to find the information they are looking for.
To put it into simple terms, the better servers are like living on a large plot of land, with a large house with only 1 or two people as the tenants.
Whilst the poorer quality servers will have your website located within a high rise apartment block, along with hundreds, if not thousands of other people living with you.
How do I Know Which Hosting Provider to Use?
This is a difficult question to answer because it can be challenging to put all the hosting plans side by side to find out exactly what you are getting for your money.
I would suggest taking your time to do some online research and checking out what others have been saying on online forums.
Whichever one you decide to go for, I would recommend finding out the location of their servers and making sure that they are close to where the majority of your visitors will be coming from.
Obviously this is more relevant if your website targets a specific area, for example, a plumbing business in Sydney.
Reducing the Amount of HTTP Requests
Every webpage is typically made up of several components including, text and images.
When a user enters a URL and hits enter, the browser searches for the location of where the files are stored (the server).
Once it has found the location it will begin requesting information from the server.
It will then download the files necessary to render (display) the page onto the users screen.
Throughout the process of downloading the web page files it is doing so by sending many Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) requests.
Each HTTP request will add to the time required by the browser to download a page.
To put it more simply, think about every time you do the shopping. Imagine that each shopping item is a HTTP request.
Generally, the more items you need to put into your shopping basket, the longer it will take.
Every time the browser needs to download an image or video these are all separate HTTP requests.
Now that you understand what a HTTP request is you can take a closer look at your website. I suggest removing those HTTP requests which you don't require and combining others where possible.
Doing so will help the browser to download your webpages quicker.
Make Your Images Faster
“A picture is worth thousand words” - This is an age old saying and yes, it will make your website aesthetically pleasing.
Images also have the advantage of helping to keep visitors engaged.
However, images generally take up a large amount of a webpages size. The larger the size of the image, the longer it will take to download them.
You can help make your images as small as possible by compressing them, or preparing them for web.
An image is generally made up of hundreds, thousands or even millions of dots.
The process of compressing an image is done by removing dots from the image.
The more dots you remove, the lower the file size however the quality will also decrease.
This is where it can be tricky because you want to reduce the size of the image as much as possible. However, you also want to maintain the image such that everything is still clear and easy to interpret.
As a general rule, most images should not be above 100kb (there are 1000kb in a megabyte).
Minimise the Use of Plugins (Wordpress Sites Only)
Plugins are good for many reasons but unfortunately one of their drawbacks is that they add ‘weight’ to your website.
A common problem I find many people doing is that they will typically have too many plugins installed. By 'too many', I mean the plugins that are no longer being used.
I suggest going through all your plugins and removing the ones you no longer require.
By removing all the ones that you no longer need you will instantly make your webpage ‘lighter’. This will help make your website quicker to download, thus, enhancing your websites speed performance.
Combining External Scripts
What is an external script?
An external script is a document separate to your main html file which typically adds function to your website.
For example, probably one of the most common external scripts is a Cascading Style Sheet (CSS).
A CSS helps style the individual elements on a page. They set the colour, font size, padding and margins to name a few.
You could eliminate using a CSS altogether by using inline CSS, however this is very labour intensive and not recommend for anything other than a one page website.
Often though, a website will have many separate CSS scripts adding to the amount of HTTP requests a browser needs to make when downloading a page.
You can resolve this issue by combining all CSS script files into one style sheet. This would reduce the amount of files the browser will need to download.
I suggest checking all the external scripts of your website and applying the same method.
If you are not using some of the scripts then I suggest removing them all together.
Optimising Your CSS and JS files
The most common scripts on any website will be the CSS and JS scripts.
There are two methods for compressing them - minifying and gzipping.
For best results I suggest completing both.
What is Minifying CSS or JS?
Minifying CSS and JS files is effectively removing things not required by the browser to complete the task of rendering the web page.
How to Minify a CSS or JS file
Minifying CSS or JS files is as easy as copying and pasting.
Now you should gzip your CSS and JS files.
To learn more about what gzipping is and how to do it I suggest reading the following article: Enabling gzip compression.
Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is basically a variety of servers located in locations all around the globe. These servers interact with users based on their geographical location.
This can create large improvements to your website performance especially if it has been designed to serve customers globally.
For example, if someone from Germany is visiting your website the browser will download the content from a server based in Germany.
However, there is a downside to using a CDN, they can be pricey.
I use one for free which comes as part of my hosting package (another advantage of using a more expensive hosting solution).
I hope you have found the information on this page helpful.
If however, you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Please note: Any link that I have provided within this post has been added solely to help you in your quest to make your webpage faster.
I have no affiliation with any of the companies.