While I’m pretty sure I’ve covered this topic before, optimizing your website to load faster is a subject worth revisiting.
Everyone knows the loading speed of your website matters. It matters to visitors, and it matters to search engines, like Google. Optimizing a website for speed usually comes down to reducing the size of the page and it’s content. While there is no “golden rule” when it comes to load time, generally speaking this is a good guide:
Here are some areas that we focus on, when optimizing a website:
Images – The low hanging-fruit of the optimization world, images are typically the culprit when it comes to a slow loading website. This happens mostly when website owners (or amateur webmasters) add content to a website, and lack the tools to properly resize, and compress images. Check out our Image Editing post for help with this.
Minification / Compression – This is a task for your webmaster, and it involves taking the files that constitute the website and compressing them down to a smaller size using various techniques (think of a ZIP file). With minification, the white or empty space in the file is removed, making it as small as possible. We use CloudFlare to do some of this automatically.
Errors / Missing Files – Often times after the construction of a website, and some time passes errors or missing files start to slow the loading process. We inspect the page as it loads, identify and remove the problematic code, or replace the missing files.
Hosting – Your web hosting is one-piece of the speed puzzle, and making sure your web host responds quickly and consistently is vital. We use speed test tools like GTmetrix are great for identifying these and other issues.
Once you tackle the easy optimizations, sometimes you’re left with a baseline that still isn’t optimal. This is where you have to back up, and look at what content you’re delivering, and evaluate if it’s all still wanted or needed.
Simply removing content from your home page, and moving it to another page can help get you to a speed that is reasonable. This process forces you, the website owner to really focus on what is important to your customers, and will benefit you not only in regards to your load time, but also the customer experience.
Example: Slideshows – Most users don’t stick around for more than 1 or 2 slides. However if your slideshow has 6 slides, all 6 need to be downloaded, slowing your load time.
Lastly, your home page is not the only page on your website worth optimizing. If your traffic comes from Google, and through your blog, optimizing inner pages are just as important. Look at your visitor statistics and determine the most popular 5 pages and focus on those before making drastic changes to your home page.