Quick Wins for a Faster Website
How often have you heard the adage “you only get one chance to make a first impression”?
Well, this expands past human-to-human interaction; it holds true for a human-to-website interaction too! In fact, when it comes to a website, not only do you get one chance to make an impression, but that impression had better be made in 2 seconds or less (if you’re asking “why 2 seconds?” it’s because websites that take over 2 seconds to load lose 47% of users!).
Web performance is how fast your website loads, and is measured by the speed of your web pages. A performant site means pages load quickly; an underperforming (or slow) site means pages load slowly. Web performance is important because if you want a site that loads in 2 seconds or less, you need a performant website.
How can I Determine my Website’s Performance?
Determining your website’s performance falls under two categories: absolute speed (how fast in seconds things load) and subjective speed (how fast things load when compared to peer or competitor sites). The ultimate goal is to have a website with smaller absolute speed than your peer or competitor sites, therefore making you subjectively fast.
To determine your website’s performance you’ll need to measure your website’s speed, as well as competitor and peer websites speeds. You do this by running performance tests (aka speed tests), which identify how long it takes for different parts of your website to load: from start render (how long it takes for a web page to first display something on a screen), to fully loaded (how long it takes every bit of HTML, styles, images, videos, etc. to load), and other parts too!
How to Improve Website Performance
In the experience of the team at Isovera, it’s often not just one or two things that slow a site down, but a build up of several things. Since we’re big fans of “quick wins” to jumpstart bigger wins, here’s a quick-list of some easy wins for boosting site performance:
- Clean up bad links — excessive or broken links can lead to slow web performance. Use a link checker such as brokenlinkcheck or screamingfrog to see if your website has broken links, and then fix the broken links!
- Cache — caching improves performance by allowing browsers to store the images, html, and other content that makes up your webpage. This allows a webpage to load faster when it’s visited it again, because it pulls that content from its “memory”, or cache. While caching is good in small amounts, you should avoid allowing for everything to be cached, as this makes a browser pull lots of information from its memory (which actually slows load times down!). Instead, focus on caching smaller site components, such as logos, headers, and footers.
- Optimize images — While some image files may seem interchangeable, certain ones use more space than others and therefore take longer to load. For instance, it would take much longer to load a .psd photo file than .jpeg, yet the files would look the same to the human eye. If you find unnecessarily large files, sub them out with smaller sized files or consider compressing them!
- Compress content — much like compressing a file on your desktop so you can send it via email without overfilling your inbox, you can also compress online content and files. This allows for websites to store more files without needing too much space.
- Check your hosting package — a website host is a company that “houses” the data that makes up your website. Website hosts offer different packages — some only house your website, some house your website and offer additional services, and so on. Depending on who hosts your site, and what packages they offer, you can actually change your website speed.
- Maintain your site — this is kind of like a “catch all”, but it’s important to maintain your website so it doesn’t slowly build up on small things that slow it down. Periodically clean up broken links, remove inactive users, or rewrite shoddily written code to make sure these little things don’t contribute to a big slowdown!
Tools For Testing Website Performance
This section is pretty self-explanatory, but here are a few tools our team likes to use to test or see how fast your website is.
To use these tools, check out the links above and enter your website URL into the boxes. This will tell the tools what site to run speed tests on and to generate a report of these speeds.
After using these tools to run tests on your website, run your peers sites too and compare performance numbers to see where you’re doing well, or where to focus to improve speed. For instance, if your website homepage takes 1.1 seconds to load and your competitors’ sites’ homepages take 0.8 seconds to load, you might focus on making your homepage more performant.
We hope you’ve found this article helpful! From understanding what web performance is, determining how to make a site more performant, and covering various tips for helping you improve your website performance, this post was designed to help you understand the need for website speed.
Interested in learning more, or want to take your site speed to the next level? Drop the Isovera team a line — our extensive experience with developing technically fast and robust websites with best practices allows for us to build sites made specifically for enhanced performance!