Whether it’s a simple blog or a large online store, we all want our website to run smoothly and enjoyable. However, research has shown that website owners often underestimate the impact of webpage load time, but the visitors have a different perspective.
Data compiled in this infographic illustrates the discrepancy. While the average loading times for desktop and mobile pages are 9.3 and 22 seconds, respectively, about half of the visitors tend to leave if those times exceed 2 and 3 seconds.
It is clear, then, that if you wish to appeal to your audience, your websites must hold up to a certain standard. The good news is that there are often fairly simple ways to speed up our websites. Here are some quick suggestions on how to make your content reach your audience much faster.
Minimize HTTP Requests
Pages consist of different elements that require the browser to make an HTTP request. So, the more components the page has, the longer it takes to load. It is estimated that downloading these elements takes up about 80% of the total page loading time. It makes sense, then, to shorten load times by reducing the number of elements and, consequently, HTTP requests.
The simplest way is obvious – delete all unneeded elements. However, making a webpage as lean as possible is not always an option.
Fortunately, another way to do this is by minifying and combining the elements. Minifying refers to removing anything unnecessary from the website code. There are many tools available to remove superfluous code and formatting, comments, and whitespaces, thereby reducing the code’s size.
Compress Your Website
One way to reduce the sheer size of your website, and therefore load time, is to compress the images. Images are large files and tend to take up more space than the rest of the elements put together.
A manual way to do this is to crop the image to the desired number of pixels. A simpler way, however, is to find an image compression tool. These tools can be used to automatically reduce the size of all images on your website.
Another thing to do is compress your entire website. Using Gzip is considered a typical way to reduce a website’s total size. Yahoo estimates that using Gzip to compress a website can decrease its load speed by 70%.
Find the Right Provider for Hosting and CDN
If you are sure your site is well-optimized, but you are still having speed issues, you should find the right host and pick the right hosting option. The cheapest plans are usually adequate for starters, but as your website grows you might need more bandwidth and server power to accommodate all your visitors.
Also, if you have a wider audience, you can try a Content Delivery Network. CDN services make copies of your website on servers in many different locations. Therefore, visitors who are physically far away from you can access your website from a closer server, making the loading time much shorter. Another benefit of CDN is that the extra servers can help pull some of the weight in case of traffic spikes. That way none of the visitors have to endure prolonged load times.
In the end, the tools and techniques for improving website speed are too many to enumerate. However, this little guide should provide you with some starting ideas. If you implement what you have learned here, you should have no trouble getting your content to its audience in record time.