With all of the attention placed on web design, very few understand the importance of optimizing for seamless performance. This is unfortunate, since today’s users are incredibly fickle and impatient.
4 Steps to Better Website Performance
While the visual appearance of a website certainly matters, there’s so much more to success than simply designing an aesthetically pleasing website and then stepping away. Even more important than design is performance and functionality. An inefficient website with poor user experience will render a page completely useless and unable to drive conversions.
Every website faces unique challenges and restrictions, but there are a handful of ways to actively improve website performance and increase conversions. Let’s check out a few of the top tips and techniques.
1. Minimize HTTP Requests
Did you know that 80 percent of a page’s loading time is dedicated to downloading and presenting the various parts of a page? This includes things like Flash, scripts, images, stylesheets, and more. The quickest way to speed up page loading time is by reducing the number of individual components a user’s browser has to load in order to render the page.
The best way to reduce the number of HTTP requests is by simplifying your design. Tips include streamlining the number of elements on an individual page, reducing scripts and placing them at the bottom of the page, combining various style sheets into one, and using CSS instead of images (when possible).
2. Optimize Images
Images are used with the intention of enhancing a website’s overall user experience, but sometimes they do the exact opposite. If images aren’t properly optimized, they can actually hurt website performance. When considering the images on your site, think about the following three things:
Size. Large and oversized images take a long time to load, so you need to keep images to a reasonable size. Crop them, reduce color depth, and make sure to remove image comments. If you have lots of images to show, consider using thumbnails – such as in this example. Thumbnails allow you to incorporate lots of images, without negatively impacting the page loading speed.
Format. You should focus on using the JPEG format, but there are other options. PNG can be good, but this format can have issues on older browsers. BMP and TIFF formats should be avoided.
Src attribute. Finally, the Src attribute needs to be correct. The HTML code for an image includes the following section: <img src="">. You must include the source inside the quotation marks or the browser will make additional requests that may overload your servers and/or corrupt user data.
As you can see, it’s not always as easy as slapping some images into a website and moving on to the next step. There’s a lot more to think about from a website performance perspective.
3. Enable Browser Caching
As previously mentioned, HTTP requests increase the average page loading time of a given page. In addition to simplifying site design to increase page loading speed, you can enable browser caching to provide a seamless experience for visitors who have already been to your page in the past.
The very first time someone visits your site, they have to download all of the files and HTML documents associated with your webpages. However, by enabling browser caching for your website, you can actually store these components in a user’s cache. This means they only need to download a handful of files on subsequent visits. According to one test, enabling browser caching was able to reduce page loading time by more than 60 percent.
If you’re unsure of how to enable caching, then check out this helpful guide on the topic. It’ll walk you through some of the different methods and practices. Depending on your current setup and/or experience, one option may work better than others.
4. Minify Resources
Make the Necessary Tweaks
A website is designed to facilitate a seamless connection between the business and the customer. If your site fails to establish this relationship, it’s ineffective and low returning. However, the good news is that it only takes a few small tweaks to get back on the right track. Identify your weaknesses and actively work to improve performance in a way that resonates with your specific user base.