Website Speed

A few tips to reduce load time

You have just spent a good amount of money on a new website. It looks nice. The web design company has built it to the specs you wanted. The website has launched, and you are excited to show it to your friends. Unfortunately some people mention to you that the site loads a bit slow, especially on their mobile device. So now what? You go back to the web designer and see what can be done. You end up realizing that all of the “pretty” factors of the site are really slowing things down.

All too often, when a new website is built, very little time is actually spent on the User Experience portion of a site. Business owners often build a website according to what they think is best, not what the website visitors actually want. Rarely are customers asked what they want from a website, much less pulled into the design process. To learn more about our process for building sites, click here.

Believe it or not, most websites are completely over built. Time and time again we have found that website visitors want a simple, effective experience. They don’t want to hunt for things. Visitors go to your site with a specific purpose in mind. It is your job as a website owner to provide this information to your visitors as quickly as possible.

From a technical perspective, there are specific things we recommend any developer should do to speed up the load times of the site. Here are some of those items:

  • Combine Images Into Fewer Files using CSS

    Placing images into as few files as possible using CSS coding reduces the total number of times a specific image file has to be called. In short, it reduces the amount of info that has to be loaded. You should also place small external CSS files inline. If you don’t want to do that, you can combine the external CSS files. Finally, you will want to compact CSS code. This will again speed things up.

  • Place CSS in the Head of the Site

    This is definitely an optimization trick we have used on the past.  Placing inline style blocks and <link> elements into the document head improves rendering performance.  A quality web developer should do this as part of their job.

  • Provide Scaled Images

    Make sure your images are loaded onto the website in the appropriate size. Serving appropriately-sized images can save many bytes of data. This will dramatically improve the speed of your website, especially on mobile devices. You can also reduce the file sizes based on where images will be shown. Make sure to resize image files themselves instead of using CSS to do it. You want the core files to be smaller in size.

  • Use a CDN

    Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a great way to speed up your site without making many changes to the site itself. A CDN utilizes servers around the world to deliver your website information from the closest server possible. For example, if your website host is located in Chicago but many of your customers are in California, then you could utilize a CDN that hosts your website in Los Angeles. Now the distance the data has to travel to your customers is reduced, thus increasing the speed at which it is delivered.

  • Review the Order of Styles and Scripts

    Here is another item that should be done by a developer from the get go. By placing style sheets in the correct order, scripts can be downloaded simultaneously which speeds up browser rendering time.

  • Minimize Cookie Size & Request Headers

    You should always keep cookies and request headers small.  You want to make sure you can fit your HTTPS requests into a single call.

  • JavaScripts

    Place all JavaScripts into Inline. If you don’t want to do that, consider combining external JavaScript files.  You also want to compact Java code. This will speed up downloading, parsing, and load time.  Additionally, you want to minimize the amount of JavaScript needed to render the page, and defer parsing of unneeded JavaScript until it needs to be executed.

  • Run Keep-Alive

    Running  Keep-Alive allows the same connection to send and receive multiple data requests.  This will reduce the latency for any additional information calls. Latency is the delay any website has before a transfer of data begins following an instruction for its transfer.

  • Enable GZip Compression

    GZip is a product you can run on the server.  It’s a software application used for file compression, reducing the size of files sent from your server.  This increases the speed to which they are transferred to the browser.

  • Avoid Page Redirects

    Redirecting landing pages adds delays to the load time of a page.  Assure you are not redirecting any important pages.

  • Kill Bad Requests

    Assure you don’t have any 404/broken links on the website.  These requests are loading things that are already broken and thus are a complete waste of resources.

  • Specify Cache Validation

    All static page components should have either a Last-Modified or ETag header. Having these components added will allow browsers to take advantage of all caching benefits.

  • Leverage Browser Caching

    Page load times can be significantly improved by asking visitors to save and reuse the files included in your website. Browser Caching accomplishes this.

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To check the load time of your website, we recommend tools like https://gtmetrix.com/ or https://tools.pingdom.com/   Both are great tools and provide you with a checklist of items needed for your website developer to fix your site.