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How to speed up your website

Alexander Prokopenko
Alexander Prokopenko Chief Technical Officer
2 minutes to read

Is there anything more frustrating in life than a slow-loading website? This cardinal sin is one of the ultimate no-nos in website development; if you’re looking to swiftly take visitors from 0 to annoyed and ready to jump ship in just a few short seconds, slow site speed is certainly the way to do it.

Don’t just take our word for it. Research by Amazon found that speed is most certainly of the essence, reporting increased revenue of 1% for every 100 milliseconds improvement to loading times. A study by Akamai revealed that nearly half of website users (47%) expect a web page to load in two seconds or less and almost the same amount (40%) will abandon a web page if it takes more than three seconds to load. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that Google now factor site speed into their page rankings…

Here are our top tips for boosting the speed of your website:

Keep HTTP requests to a minimum

The more bells and whistles you have on a page – such as images, scripts and Flash – the longer it will take to download. This is because each of these elements requires an HTTP request, making the page take longer to render. The best way to avoid this is to simplify the design of your site, streamlining the amount of components on each page. Keep it clean by using CSS instead of images wherever you can too, combining multiple style sheets into one and reducing scripts, positioning them at the bottom of the page.

Compression is key

Again in the name of reducing HTTP requests, you can compress large pages that could be slowing down your site speed. Try using the tool Gzip which works with the majority of web servers to compress bulky files before sending them for download. A study by Yahoo found that this practice can decrease download time by approximately 70%.

Turn on browser caching

The first time a visitor arrives at your website they have to download all the elements – the HTML document, javascript files, images, the lot. However, with browser caching, these different components can be stored and saved so that less need to be downloaded on subsequent visits, thus reducing (you guessed it) HTTP requests to the server.

Use fewer redirects

To keep speed high, keep redirects low. Of course, this might appear easier said than done as, if you’ve done your optimisation homework, you’ll have redirects in place to shift users from your main website to the responsive version. However, this can be overcome by employing tactics such as using an HTTP redirect to send mobile users directly to the equivalent URL.

Ensure images are optimised

Unsurprisingly, oversized images will wreak havoc on your loading times so use image editing tools to keep them as small as possible. Crop images to suit the width of your page, reduce colour depth, remove any image comments and use JPEGs over TIFFs or BMPs. It’s also a good idea to check the code in order to minimise empty SRC codes and the added server traffic or potentially corrupt data that can come alongside.

Whilst there are quite a few tricks you can put in place yourself to speed up your website, getting some help from those in the know will mean no stone is left unturned. Contact us today to find out how our developers can help.

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