Jessica Kane takes over our blog this month to discuss page speed. Thanks Jessica!
In our world today, everything moves fast, from same-day delivery to instant updates. With extremely high expectations of customers, you do not even have 10 seconds to convince visitors to stay while your website loads. No one wants to spend time waiting for a page when they can just press the back button and go to another site.
The competition is getting fiercer each day and users are demanding for websites to be lightning fast. According to stats, the average load speed of retail sites is more than seven seconds when the ideal load time is three seconds at most. The few second differential costs retailers to lose billions. In fact, a delay of one second in page response can easily lead to seven percent sales reduction.
Page speed has even more implications aside from the loss of revenue and poor user experience. Your website’s slow loading also affects your Google rankings. It’s no longer a matter of wanting to improve your site’s speed; it is a need. The good news is that you can improve your website’s loading times in many ways. The top five ways are listed below:
Start optimizing your database.
Not all sites have databases, but you use one if you have a blog, e-commerce store, or any website with dynamic features, such as internal search. You utilize the database to store information, and unfortunately, it can impact the way your page loads.
One of the best techniques in optimizing your database is to add an index, which can significantly boost your page speed. When indexed, the database can locate information quicker, so it does not have to scan numerous records. Instead, it can narrow down the available data up to at least a few hundred, which aids in returning the data to the page faster than ever.
Reduce HTTP requests.
When the browser fetches a page, picture, or file from a web server, it is a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) request. Yahoo has disclosed that these requests take up to 80% of your site’s load time. Browsers typically limit requests from four to eight connections at the same time for every domain. The more HTTP requests that you have to load for your page, the longer it will take for your site to retrieve each of them. As a result, your load time increases.
To fix this problem, you have several tactics to choose from in decreasing the HTTP requests, including:
Lowering the number of images on your website
Utilize queries for loading what you only need, such as certain images or a specific script for mobile users
Uniting images that frequently appear on your site using one sprite sheet
You do not have to perform all the methods above but following at least one or two of them can dramatically decrease the time for loading each page.
Reduce the size of your images.
Some sites, including retail, require images, which are helpful in enticing customers to engage with the content and make a purchase. More than 60% of your site’s page weight though comes from the images you have uploaded. While removing them can increase the speed of your website, most of the photos may be necessary for e-commerce, for instance.
You do not have to get rid of the photos because making sure they are appropriately sized can help significantly. A few ways will allow you to accomplish this goal, including using new formats, such as JPEG XR and WebP. These formats allow you to lessen the weight of the images by up to 50%. The best part is that the methods below lower image size without sacrificing their quality:
Use an image editor and reduce the actual size before uploading.
As with above, taking your commonly used images and combining them into CSS sprites minimizes HTTP requests required for downloading the page.
The container property’s max width should not exceed 90% of the boundary width
You can also set the images to auto resize to the maximum width (100%) and have the height set to auto.
Many of your site’s users are not close to your web server. You can try to spread your content across different servers in various geographic locations, which can reduce the distance but it is too complicated. You need a viable option to implement, which comes in the form of a content delivery network or CDN.
CDNs are a group of web servers that are situated across varying locations. They help in delivering content more efficiently to the users. CDNs are frequently used for files that do not need editing (static content) once they are uploaded.
When users visit your site, the elements on your page are stored in their hard drive’s temporary storage or cache. The next time they go to your site, the browser loads the page faster because it does not have to perform another HTTP request as before.
Up to 60% of your site’s visitors have an empty cache. When you enable browser caching, the first page they see will be much quicker because the elements will be stored in their hard drive. Make sure this functionality is activated on your site for improved user experience.
The primary reason why you own a site is to gain traffic and of course, make money. The flashy images and eye-catching buttons may seem trendy, but they can be detrimental. If they cause your visitors to wait more than 10 seconds, you need to optimize your site, so it runs as efficiently as possible.
Jessica Kane is a writer for Every USB, where you can create your very own custom usb drive for your brand or company.