Is your website running slower than usual or has it always just been irritatingly sluggish to load? You’re not alone! Tuning your website, whether it be WordPress, Joomla, or static can be a daunting task especially if you have a lot of content on your website. Learn about the top 5 methods you can increase the usability and speed of your website and increase customer retention! I don’t know about you, but whenever I land on a page that takes more than 5 seconds to load I’ll just move on. In this day and age with rapid information being relayed to the user on a daily basis, we have shorter attention spans and the need for SPEED.
Method #1: Optimize your images
One of the major issues I run into a lot with my clients is poor image optimization. Having larger images than necessary or large file sizes can bring your website to a crawl. You can actually see this in action if you open up dev tools in your browser and monitor the network tab and see which images are the biggest abusers. So how do you fix it? There are a couple of ways that are relatively easy but can take time if you have a lot of images. The first and most obvious method is to reduce the size of the image. This can be done by both compressing the image and reducing the resolution. I see a lot of websites sometimes use 4k images for banners on websites or as a background image for section header that wreck the website’s performance. This is totally unnecessary and reducing the resolution / compressing will result in the same look and feel at a way faster response. Another method is to use images that are optimized specifically for the web, this includes formats such as SVG or WEBP. The great thing about SVG images is that if implemented correctly, can scale to any device size and retain its quality. Finally, one great tool I like to use that is free and easy is BIRME which allows reduce images resolution and size in bulk: https://www.birme.net/
Method #2: Switch or upgrade your hosting
An often overlooked reason why a website could be slow is a poor hosting provider or choosing the wrong tier of hosting. A lot of businesses when they just start out they go with the cheapest option there is just to get their website live not taking into account growth and bandwidth. If you are a small business just starting out you can get away with this and it probably makes more sense. But as your business grows and more traffic goes to your website, you’ll need to upgrade your hosting. Upgrading your hosting will allow for greater bandwidth, ability to load your website for larger audiences at once, and priority over lower tier hosting websites. This is especially true if you go from shared hosting to a dedicated server for your website.
Method #3: Monitor your API calls / Choose the right plugins
Another way you can increase the speed of your website is ensuring that you are calling API’s or using plugins that are quick. If you use the network tab in dev tools you’ll see there are usually a ton of requests, some taking significantly longer than others. This can be fixed by making sure you are calling an API that is fast and can handle multiple requests. If you are using WordPress, then make sure you are using plugins that are well optimized. This may take trial and error finding the right ones.
Method #4: Minify your vendor files
A great way to speed up your website is to ensure that the vendor files you are using are minified. What does minified mean? This essentially means to reduce the size of your JS and CSS files that you use from various sources or vendors. A large majority of the time the vendor has a version of their library or plugin that is “minified”. This can be seen by the extension of the file. For example with bootstrap you could use either bootstrap.js or bootstrap.min.js. Using the latter will improve the performance of using that framework. If you are using WordPress, you can use a general purpose minify plugin such as this: Fast Velocity Minify Improve your speed score on GTmetrix, Pingdom Tools and Google PageSpeed Insights by merging and minifying CSS… wordpress.org
Method 5: Caching and CDNs
Last but not least, using caching and CDN’s in your website is going to improve your website performance enormously. What caching essentially does is store assets from a website in a temporary storage, which allows the user to load the website MUCH quicker the next time they visit. This is especially useful for repeat visitors of your website. Here is a WordPress plugin that will handle this for you with some basic configuration: W3 Total Cache W3 Total Cache (W3TC) improves the SEO and user experience of your site by increasing website performance and reducing… wordpress.org In addition to caching, using CDNs in your website will greatly improve speed as well. This will reduce the latency of your website by loading your site’s content on various servers and when a user visits your page it will find the server closest to them. For instance, if you live in San Antonio, TX but your hosting provider’s server is located in New York, you’ll experience a significantly higher latency than if the server is located in say, Houston. Signing your website up for a CDN is a great way to ensure that the content of your website is served FAST and very low latency. In my opinion however, I would only explore this option once you have gone through the above and you are still experiencing slowdown.
Thank you guys for reading my article and I hope it will help speed up your website! Don’t forget to use a tool such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights to actually check the before and after and see the difference. It will also help offer suggestions for you such as the ones above and rank the suggestions in what would help you out the most!