Use Performance Optimization to Improve Your Website
We humans may spend countless hours browsing through pointless things on the internet but when it comes to waiting for a website to load, we become annoyingly impatient. According to recent studies, stats have shown that 50 percent of the users will leave the website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to launch.
A loading time lag of as little as 1 second will result in an 11 percent decrease in page viewers and a 16 percent decrease in user experience. Therefore, if you think that the speed of the website doesn’t matter so much… give it another thought.
We have so much online competition that a website’s performance optimization becomes as crucial as the website’s design. Performance optimization just refers to the actions you take to make your website function as efficiently and effectively as possible. Poor speed on your website can end up frustrating the user and they are likely to choose the competition’s site even if your content is more relevant.
By now it is clearly evident that the speed of your website is directly proportional to the success of your business. Therefore, to make your visitors stick around, you need to know the current pace of your website and numerous tips to boost it.
Test Your Website
Firstly you need to figure out your current loading time and assess what slows down your website before you start troubleshooting to improve the website’s performance.
For this process, there are numerous free performance evaluation tools available online which are definitely worth a shot:
Also, If you have a WordPress based website, then you may use the “WP performance profiler” plugin to increase the pace of your website.
Loading Time Testing
Loading time testing is done to determine how a website functions under stress when a heavy number of users are performing several transactions in a certain time limit. This test helps us to find an estimated number of users a website can handle at the same time without crashing. Following are some open-source tools that you may use to perform load testing.
Once you have determined the current speed for your website, the next step is to set something to aim for. It is always a good idea to have an end goal before starting a task. To set your targets and track your results you may also use Google’s recommendations and benchmarks.
Important Tips for Speeding up Your Website
There are tonnes of variables that may cause a delay in loading a website, Therefore, there are several different ways to maximize the efficiency and enhance the user experience.
In this article, we’ll go through some of the best practices that you can use to reduce your load times and boost the efficiency of your site.
1. Image Optimization:
What percentage of a website’s page weight do images consume? 30 percent? 40 percent? Just take a guess. According to an HTTP Archive report from 2016, images eat up to 64 percent of a website’s speed. Thus, they become the first target in this process.
To begin with, you first need to select the images which are purely essential for your website. If there’s an image that can be replaced with CSS colors, shades, and gradients, go ahead and craft it. These effects are indeed very effective and absorb a minuscule amount of load speed.
For images that can’t be replaced, we always have an option to compress them. Image formats such as JPEG 2000, JPEG XR, and WebP have relatively superior compression and resolution characteristics compared to their older JPEG and PNG predecessors.
By adding the following code in your .htaccess file, you can support WebP image format and use 25%-30% smaller images.
However, If you still want to use the JPEG and PNG formats, there are several free compressing tools available that you may find useful.
Some popular plugins:
Free online tools:
- ImageAlpha (for Mac users)
2. Content Delivery Network (CDN)
This is done by exporting static material from the website to these remote servers, so the media and style files are transmitted from the nearest server to the location where the user attempts to retrieve or access the content.
Now you may wonder how it helps in improving the loading time. Since much of the loading time on the website relies on loading static files such as media and stylesheets, it’s not really difficult to explain that the use of CDN would mean a better speed for the website. This is achieved largely by the concepts of caching files. As we often use various caching plugins for our wordpress websites, similar CDN also relies on caching to send the files more efficiently to users’ browsers.
Not only the speed but CDN also helps with lowering the bandwidth cost, enhancing website security as well as improving SEO ranking.
How do you choose your CDN Provider? Functionality and expenses are the two important factors you should consider before choosing a CDN provider for your website.
Before minifying, we need to figure out how many HTTP requests are made for each one of the elements such as images, stylesheets, and scripts. You can simply find it by using the browser’s developer tool and under the network tab, you can see size and time to load each file.
Once you know the size and number of these requests, you may now work on minifying and combining these files.
- White space characters
- Line breaks
- Block delimiters
Some of the suggested plugins for this task are:
4. Move Your Website to a Better Host
For hosting, mostly new webmasters prefer the absolute cheapest choice. Although this is always adequate initially, when the incoming traffic increases you will definitely need to upgrade.
Hence, we have three possible types of hosting:
- Shared hosting: Shared hosting provides you the cheapest option with monthly payment starting from $5 a month. Although shared hosting is ideal for low-traffic sites, it struggles to keep up with high incoming traffic. Also, your site may also experience the impact of high traffic on other sites which are sharing the same server.
- Virtual Private Servers (VPS) hosting: Though you still share a server with other websites here you get your specific allocated parts of the server’s resources.
- Dedicated server: Though you will have a lot more space in this option here you would also be responsible for technical setup, server maintenance and configuration. Also this would be the most expensive option.
5. Reduce the Number of Plugins
There are so many plugins that help you in performance optimization but too many plugins on your website can cause issues. If not maintained properly they can slow down the speed, cause security issues and even crash the entire website.
Some of the ways to handle this issue are:
- Test your plugins: For this you may use GTMetrics and run a speed test for all the activated plugins on your website. Now test by deactivating individual plugins and note which plugins you must disable to reach faster speeds. If you find this job tiresome, you may use P3-profiler plugin to find the performance of each plugin. Also you may delete this plugin from your website after you have the complete report.
- Detect feature overlaps: There are several plugins which could fulfill more than a single goal and therefore you may use those over the ones which serve only one purpose. This will help you eliminate and reduce the number of plugins on your website.
Achieving your ideal loading time can be a challenging task but it will definitely have a positive impact on your business. Always start with the high-impact factors and work your way downwards. Even minor steps can create a significant difference in reducing load time!