After endless hours of planning, designing, and pouring your heart into building your brand's online presence, you finally have a website that you're proud to call your own. But when you pull up your latest creation to show it off to a friend or perhaps a prospect, you're met with that dreaded spinning icon of a slow-loading website.
What happened? As it turns out, creating a website is easy today. What's not so easy is having a website that's as fast as the modern consumer's screen-swiping abilities.
The Importance of Website Speed
People don't like waiting, If it takes more than 2 seconds, you'll likely lose a big chunk of your visitors to that notorious “back” button.
Not to mention, a slow website can kill your entire SEO strategy too. Google has explicitly declared that good performance is one of the factors they consider when ranking a website. While it may not the only piece of the puzzle, it still matters considerably.
Putting the two together, you can see how damaging long and tedious loading times can be to your online presence.
In today's post, we're going to highlight the four easiest tips you can follow to immediately slash seconds off of your page load time and take your website's performance to the next level.
The best part is that these are so easy to implement that you can do these on your own right now. So without wasting any time, let's jump right in.
1. Set Up Caching
Every time someone accesses your website, the server has to go through the scripts, pull some database wizardry, and put together the page that users eventually get to see in their browser.
However, almost all of those steps can be avoided using a process called caching. Instead of building the page every time a visitor tries to open it, the server can maintain a pre-built copy and simply forward it to all users.
As you can imagine, this can immediately cut the load on your machine's resources by a double-digit percentage figure and speed up your website. Not to mention, you'll also experience a significant uptick in the maximum number of visitors your website could handle.
It is worth noting that caching is suited for static websites. So if your website shows dynamic content tailored to each user, then you'll have a hard time reaping the full benefits of caching. Whereas if you run a blog or informational website, you stand to gain the maximum boost in performance from caching.
2. Use a CDN
CDN, short for content delivery network, is a service that lets you put all your static files across a global, distributed network of servers. This is a big leap from the typical hosting package where all your files are hosted on a single server in a single location.
What makes CDNs particularly powerful is the drop in “ping” times your audience will experience. While the internet allows data transfer speeds impressively close to the speed of light, it can still add up when we're talking about thousands of miles of back-and-forth transfers.
Long distances between your server and the systems of your audience can add a delay of 500 milliseconds or even more in extreme cases. While that may not sound like a lot, even split seconds matter in today's fast-paced world.
Some of the best CDN providers are Stackpath, Sucuri and CloudFlare
But there is one major concern with these two technologies - they can slow down your website or app.
Minification is the process of removing all unnecessary characters from code, like white spaces, new lines, and comments.
You can use tools like Minifier.org
5. Size images properly
It is important to size images on a website properly because it can affect the user experience in a negative way if they are not sized appropriately.
Images that are too small can make the website feel cluttered and unorganized. Images that are too big will take up too much screen space. Properly sizing images on a website ensures that they will look good on any device and in any browser, as well as being more user-friendly for the end-user.
6. Use modern image formats like WebP
There are two main reasons why you should have next-gen image formats: the first one being that they are more efficient, and the second one being that they can be used on any device.
WebP lossless images are 26% smaller in size compared to PNGs. Comparing to JPEG, WebP lossless images are 25-34% smaller in size and WebP lossy images are 25-34% smaller in size.
7. Compress your images
Images are the most common type of content on the web, and they can be a large file size. This can cause problems for your website, as it takes longer to load and may not work on mobile devices. Compressing images is a great way to solve these issues and make sure that your website is user-friendly.
When you compress an image, you are reducing the file size without sacrificing quality. This means that your website will load quicker and will be more accessible to all users. There are many tools available to help you compress images such as compressor.io, GIMP, or TinyPNG
8. Keep Your Installation Lean
WordPress is a solid content management system that derives its power from its endless supply of plugins and themes. You'll never run out of new packages to install. But just because you can install as many of these packages as you want, it doesn't mean that you should.
When it comes to add-ons, the simple rule is “the fewer, the merrier”. You have to embrace a minimalist approach when it comes to all these extras because that's exactly what they are—extra layers of resource hogs that will slow your website down.
Of course, this is easier said than done. With every plugin and theme having a different impact on your loading times, it can get tricky to figure out which ones to keep and which to let go of. That's why, among other reasons, we recommend regularly backing up your website.
If your website suddenly starts feeling sluggish after installing a new plugin, you know who the culprit is. Fixing the issue then becomes as easy as clicking a few buttons to revert the changes.
9. Pick the Right Hosting
For starters, the type of hosting you use can have a massive impact on your website's performance. While shared hosting may suffice for small, unknown blogs, growing and resource-intensive applications will be best served with a VPS or even a dedicated server.
Furthermore, you have to consider the quality of the hosting provider too. A reputable provider with fair practices may offer a shared hosting that outperforms the VPS hosting of other providers.
Last but surely not least is the team of your website host. A reputable company with a track record of success will have a team of experts ready to implement the latest improvements to its hosting systems. These improvements will pass on to your website too since it will be powered by their infrastructure.
While you can always splurge on a professional website optimization service, you can still go a long way with a DIY approach. The four tips outlined in this post will help you get 80% of the optimization benefits with minimal effort.
If the speed of your website matters to you (which it should), be sure to check our suite of hosting plans and pick the one that best suits your needs. All our servers are optimized for industry-leading performance.