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12 June 2019

7 Quick Tips to Improve Your Website Performance

While it is tempting to think that after creating and launching a website that you are done, that would be  inaccurate.

Once your website is live you need to get eyes onto your content. This is done by optimizing for Search Engines, in a practice called SEO. There are a lot of things that can be done to improve SEO; most common among them are link building, creating SEO optimized content, on-page SEO improvements, as well as others.

But, there is another factor that is also very crucial for improving your website SEO. That is optimizing your website as a whole.

When we are talking about website performance, we are not only focusing on your end users computer device (PC vs Mac) but we are also referencing if they are using a tablet and/or a mobile device. No matter the device that they use if your website is optimized it will load quickly and provide a more enjoyable experience for them.

Below are the top 7 tips to improve your website performance.

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How to Improve Your Website Performance

1. Go for Cloud Hosting

There are so many advantages if you host your site on a cloud server. The most common advantages include the cost, scalability, improved performance, and freeing your time to focus on growing your organization, amongst others.

Having a reliable cloud host is the first step for optimizing your website. Many first time users make this mistake by preferring a cheap hosting company instead of a premium hosting company. Although premium hosting price can be high, it is worth the money, especially as your organization scales up.

According to research done by Neil Patel, it’s important to note that users expect a website to load in 2 seconds, or less. A premium hosting site will allow you to feature glossy images and a trendy and accessible designed website while also loading quickly for your users, no matter their device.

If you are interested in a more technical article on how to choose the right web hosting company, please read our quick guide.

2. Use a CDN Service

A content delivery network (CDN) is a geographically distributed network that delivers web sites and any other web content to the end user.

Basically, it delivers a website’s static content like HTML, CSS, images, and also JavaScript through web servers that are closer to a user’s physical place.

For example, if an origin server is located in the USA, and a user opens the website from Singapore, the website will take longer time to load as it needs to funnel that information further. A CDN has many data servers in different regions throughout the world. Allowing you to open the website from Singapore and have the website load from the Singapore data center instead of the USA one.

3. Reduce Image Size

According to a late 2018 Hubspot report, 32% of marketers say visual images are the most important form of content for their business. It is clear we all love images. They grab user’s attention and with strategically placed images your site looks beautiful.

However, using excessive photos, or photos that are large in size, can slow down your website’s loading speed.

It is easy to rectify this issue. To optimize you can:

  • Use brand-new photo formats, such as WebP and also JPeg XR, to help reduce picture size by 20 to 50 percent without compromising the original quality.
  • Alternatively save the photo as PNG or JPEG
  • Decrease the total picture size in any editor, including in PhotoShop
  • Crop the image a little bit

You can also use any plugin for compressing images quickly, such as WP Smush.

4. Minify HTML, CSS and JavaScript Files

Minification (minify) is a programming process which removes all the unnecessary characters in the source code. These unnecessary objects include white spaces, comments, line breaks. Although the spaces, comments, etc are helpful for coders to read and more easily understand, for machines, the file is larger due to the unnecessary objects and therefore takes a bit of extra time, ultimately slowing down your website.

It is important to note, it does not change the source code’s functionality. Rather minify reduces the size and allows for more efficient transmission over the internet. So by minifying those files such as: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, web browsers will be able to read your website faster and transmit that information to the end user.

5. Make your website mobile responsive

Optimizing your site for a computer is no longer enough; you also need to make your website responsive for mobile and tablet devices. According to a February 2019 survey by statista, in the North America mobile makes up 38.21% of mobile internet traffic.

If you’re redesigning your website from scratch your strategy ideally will be to code for mobile devices first, incorporating designs for tablet and desktop devices later. If you budget won’t be able to include all three devices we recommend designing for mobile; if possible then you can include desktop too. Designing for mobile first will help in reducing the number of unneeded dependencies.

To check whether your website is mobile responsive, go to Google’s Mobile friendly checker and enter your website URL there. For our example we used PPMD.org, and from the results you can see it is mobile friendly.

PPMD.org passes Google's mobile friendly checker and is displayed with this "page is mobile friendly" displayed in green.

If there are any page loading issues it will highlight them on a separate page so you, or your developer can address.

After the examination, if your site’s rating by choice of usability requirements, like perspective setup, plugins, and text readability are revealed as ‘not mobile friendly’ you will also receive a list of things you can address in order to potentially fix it.

Error from Google's mobile friendly test saying the page is not mobile friendly in red.

6. Use of Web Caching

While it’s possible you’ve heard this term before, you may not have a clear definition of what it is. So, what is Web Caching?

According to Wikipedia Web Caching is a method for the temporary storage of web documents including webpages and images to reduce server lag and minimize bandwidth.

An added benefit is that it enhances efficiency. When a returning visitor arrives at your site, the cached version will be provided instead of the original files. This conserves server time and makes the website much faster to load. If you don’t already have it enabled we recommend doing that now. Many web hosting providers like WPEngine has a built-in cache function, which drastically speeds up your website.

7. Reduce the number of HTTP(s) server requests by combining CSS & JavaScript

HTTP(s) is a request/response method used by a web browser to bring files from the web server. It may be unknown to many users, so we will break it down.

For each page that a user visits on your site their browser puts in a request to your website. It is then your website which needs to send each and every file that your website is made of. A simple example is to look at social sharing buttons. Let’s say you have added social share buttons to the header of your site for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. These buttons are visible across every-single page. Here the number of HTTP(s) server requests, per page, has increased by 3. If you have Google Analytics or other analytic software you need to add another 1 (or more).

The more external requests your website makes the more number of HTTP(s) server requests. Little by little, your site slows down.

Now, we are not telling you to remove social share buttons, social follow buttons or anything. But we do recommend that you, or your web developer, combine the CSS for those items that repeat, and place it into the header. Then you can also combine your JavaScript files and place it into the footer.

Note: It is our recommendation that before you install new plugins or request new features because the nonprofit down the street has them you to simply ask, what is the benefit to my organization by adding this.

In Conclusion

There are a number of things that can slow your website down. Luckily there are also a number of things that can be done to improve your website’s speed.

Have a specific question? Drop us a tweet @amdeellc.

Jyoti R.

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Elyssa Respaut

Elyssa works as an occasional writer when not otherwise managing projects.