Learn how to improve site performance and load times with these 4 quick optimization tips.

Having a slow website can be frustrating and, more importantly, could be affecting your business. A recent survey from Forrester Research suggests that online consumers start getting frustrated if your website takes just two seconds to load. That frustration translates into lost revenue as each second of delay results in a 7% loss of conversion according to a study by Akamai.com and Gomez.com.

What can you do about it? Plenty, actually. Keep reading to learn more.

Tackling Factors Affecting Website Load Times

 

Below are four specific ways you can improve the performance of your website:

  1. Reduce the number of connections to the server - One major slowdown of webpages is that establishing connections requires extra time and puts additional load on a web server. A modern webpage has numerous images, style sheets and JavaScript files. By reducing the number of files a client has to download, the number of requests can also be greatly reduced, reducing page load time and the load on your servers.
  2. Reduce the size of the content - The less a user has to download the better. There are a number of ways to do this either by removing or minimizing white space or leveraging compression methods.
  3. Reduce calls to dynamic scripts for static content - Using a content management system is great when dealing with lots of content, but the cost is speed. Code that generates webpages can be heavy and slow and put a large load on the hosting server. Reducing this load can allow more simultaneous pages to be delivered and static content can have less latency.
  4. Distribute connections to other servers - If everything has to be delivered from one server it can become a bottleneck under heavy loads. Using multiple servers to deliver content through load balancing or CDN use can help speed up your site.

Website Performance Optimization Techniques

Now let’s get to how you can actually achieve the goals above and improve your website’s responsiveness.

  • Aggregate CSS and JavaScript files – For most sites, several style sheets and JavaScript files can be reduced to two files. 
  • Minimize CSS and JavaScript files - Many content management systems will provide options to automate aggregation and minimizing of files.
  • Sprite images - Creating image sprites for theme images is another way to reduce connections. By creating sprites you can reduce numerous images to one single file. The number of calls to the server can be drastically cut by spriting images.
  • Base 64 encoded images - Images can be base 64 encoded and included directly as text in style sheets and pages, this reduces the need for creating additional connections. Caution should be taken in doing this with repeated images, in content as they won't be cachable. They can also create additional load for people who disable images in their browsers.
  • Use caching / a reverse proxy - When you have a dynamic website, chances are there is still a good amount of static content, but all of the dynamic code can slow things down. By using something to cache static pages, such as a reverse proxy like Varnish, you can deliver static content at lightning speed and greatly reduce the load on your web server at the same time. Using caching with a CMS can also reduce infrastructure costs as it can allow greater connections with less hardware.
  • Load Balancing - Some sites just have far too much load for one server to handle everything, by having multiple servers running in tandem they can deliver files in parallel, allowing users to get content faster. The reduction of resource usage per server allows each server to do its job more efficiently.
  • Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) - There are many levels of complexity to this. The simplest could be putting images and files on a separate server in order to distribute load and also provide the ability to use a web server optimized for image, file, or video delivery. More advanced CDN's use automatic load balancing and involve networks of worldwide servers allowing for the choice of the fastest performing server for the user.

These optimization tips will help to curb load times and ensure that your site is performing optimally to boost conversion rates. Have questions about anything here or want some professional advice on how to improve your site’s responsiveness with performance optimization? Contact us today to learn more.

 

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