Make Your Website Faster (and reasons to do so)

Admittedly speeding up your website probably isn’t at the top of your priority list but hopefully after you read what I have to say you’ll reconsider. There are quite simply a plethora of reasons to do so and we’ll run over some of the most popular reasons for doing so in this article. As well as that we’ll also touch on common methods to assist with increasing and optimizing your website code with a view to ultimately making your website faster.

A fast website is not just something that’s “nice to have” – it should be a priority once you’re done with the build itself. Given that the optimization of a given website can take literally 10 minutes of your time there is really no excuse for not doing so.

Why Do It?

There are lots of reasons. You really should want to provide your visitors with the best user experience possible and give them the information they crave as quickly and as easily as possible. But if we’re only talking a few seconds here or there then that side of things aren’t going to make much difference. The reason most people do it is for the rewards the likes of Google are now dishing out to fast(er) websites. It is well documented that Google takes site speed into account when deciding where to position your website in the rankings which has led to a lot of people going above and beyond the call trying to squeeze out every last millisecond from their load time.

WordPress

WordPress is a major offender in the slow loading website stakes. It’s extremely bulky in its own right and when that’s combined with third party plugins and themes it becomes extremely cumbersome and slow loading. Each plugin you install will typically require and call its own CSS or JavaScript file and given third party themes are designed and coded to be used for a variety of website styles you’ll often find the sheer physical size of the files used can be huge. Big files, lots of calls and every file being called on every page is a recipe for disaster. Thankfully this issue is not a secret and there are lots of plugins that can optimize the whole website with the click of a button such as W3 total cache etc.

Caching

Caching of any kind if you’re serving static content is a good thing. By static I mean pages which seldom change i.e. not dynamic data. You can also cache things that load on each page such as images etc. Take your website logo, it’s the same on every page, what is the point in calling and downloading it on every page. If you utilized caching you could cache elements such as this which didn’t change and have each new page load call the resource from the visitors local computer instead.

Minify

Another popular method of reducing file-size, particularly with regards to CSS and JavaScript is minifying. What is basically means is making the files smaller by removing all of the unnecessary whitespace from the files themselves. So any line breaks or spaces after new lines etc are stripped out. Whitespace = disk space and if you limit the whitespace in the files they will obviously be smaller in terms of physical size which will mean they’ll load and render much faster.

Modules

If you’re using WordPress you don’t need to worry about modules too much as there will be plugins that can do pretty much anything and everything you desire. If you’re running a custom build though you’re probably going to need to go down the module route. The go-to module in this case is typically PageSpeed by Google (there is a great tutorial here on how to set it up) – This will do pretty much everything you need to do in terms of page optimization and will walk you through the entire process.

 

The more calls your website makes the longer it takes to load. By calls I mean requests to additional CSS or javascript files that your website needs to load in order to render properly. Each request has a few milliseconds lost at the start and end of the journey which when multiplied by 10 or 20 calls across the board adds up to a significant amount of time bolted onto your overall page load time. You can get around this by combining all of your CSS into one file and all of your JavaScript functions into another. This saves a huge amount of time. You can also move all of your JS files to the footer of your website so they load last.

Hopefully the above gives you some food for thought and if you have been considering optimizing your website’s performance than perhaps the above will send you down the right path. It really is worth doing and hopefully if you do it right both you and your visitors will reap the rewards. You will be rewarded with better search positions and possibly a better conversion rate and your visitors will be able to access you content in a quick and timely manner.

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