Improving Your Website Performance
When building a new website (or re-evaluating your current one), it’s key to keep performance in mind. Seconds matter when it comes to user retention, and a slow-loading website can make the difference between a sale for you, or a win for one of your competitors.
If you are looking to brush up on your knowledge, or are looking for some quick tips to boost your website performance, read on. You’ll find quick and easy ways to improve your site performance below.
How Do I Test My Website’s Performance?
As standard, you should be testing your website across as many devices as possible, the big three comprising of:
- A desktop PC or laptop
- A mobile device
- A tablet
If you don’t have access to these, an emulator can produce a similar job. Testing on these devices will also help to test website UX ( user performance) and responsiveness, ensuring critical elements aren’t hidden or constrained by different device sizes.
Below I have outlined some of the most critical factors to improve your overall website performance.
Move To a New Hosting Company
The simplest fix, move hosting companies! Some hosting companies just have slow servers, some of them have slow servers at peak times and some are great all around. Do some research or reach out to websites with rapid server response times to see what they recommend.
Alternatively, if you feel like splashing out – hiring your own dedicated hosting server will ensure that your site speed will not be compromised by other high-traffic websites.
Minimise HTTP Requests Where Possible
Imagine you’re in a restaurant, you’ve ordered your food and your waiter is on their way to your table to serve you your dinner. The food is your website and your browser is the waiter. Now, imagine every single table pulls the waiter aside to ask a question, complain about bad service or ask for the bill – these are your website’s scripts.
Your aim is to reduce the number of customers bugging the waiter, so they can serve you your food as quickly as possible. Each time a script must be loaded, it’s called a request.
Minifying a script means removing any unnecessary whitespace or bad formatting, to ensure that no space is wasted in the code. While these may seem like small changes, they can add up and save you seconds on your load time, which is a big change.
Another method of reducing your HTTP requests is to use queries or conditional statements. These will allow you to select which scripts (this includes images) load in specific environments. This could mean only running certain scripts on mobile or hiding certain images for individual viewports.
This will prevent browsers from running unnecessary scripts that aren’t relevant, giving you a faster website.
Reduce Your Plugin Reliance
My previous suggestion segues perfectly into this one. Not all the scripts you have are essential and some can definitely be removed. Users of CMS’s such as WordPress will know of plugins all too well. Plugins are essential pre-written scripts designed to perform actions on your website. Be it to add Social Media icons to your footer or help transform your site into an E-Commerce powerhouse, they can complete most tasks at the click of a button.
However, some people find themselves becoming rather trigger happy with these plugins, using them for anything and everything, when more often or not, a simple piece of code could suffice. Using my previous example – Social Media Icons, these can be added with some HTML and a bit of CSS styling, this means one less script (or request) that needs to load before your website arrives.
Rather than using a Google Maps plugin, embedding them directly into your website will produce the same effect and reduce requests again. When building your site, try to consider:
“Am I using a plugin for a problem that could be solved by something simpler?”
Keeping this in mind will help minimise your unnecessary plugin use, keeping your site clean, minimal and slick.
Optimising your website speed can seem a never-ending task, but by following these quick fixes, you can soon see your web performance boost for all the right reasons.