Website performance has become more important than ever in recent years. Specifically, a website’s loading time is a big factor that dictates a website’s success. In a previous post, we discussed why designing your website with loading times in mind is extremely important. Most users will abandon your website if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
Providing a fast web experience is one of the best ways to retain users, which in turn can lead to more engagement, conversions, and therefore website performance. On the other hand, poor website performance may result in a higher bounce rates and potential loss of sales. In this post, we’ll cover the first crucial steps to optimizing your website for speed.
Step 1: Identify the worst performing web pages
The first step to properly solve a problem is to identify the cause or source. Using tools like a free tool like Google Analytics or Pingdom, you can pinpoint which websites are having loading issues and what the cause is. What are the usual culprits for slow website performance?
– Large web page sizes: Putting too much content on one webpage will definitely slow down your webpage. Try to keep your web pages below 2MB.
– Unoptimized and large images: The file size of an image can be greatly reduced by saving the image at a lower quality or compressing it properly. Before uploading your images to your website, run them through a service like tinypng.com. Doing so can greatly decrease the file size of most images, large and small.
– Too many WordPress plugins: If you’re using WordPress as your web builder and CMS, then you already know you have access to a host of different great plugins that help with all kinds of things. Having too many plugins that do the same thing or are not really essential, little by little, take up a lot of your web servers loading resources and ultimately negatively impact your website performance. Weigh the benefits of each plugin and decide if each one is really essential or not, and delete the ones that aren’t.
Step 2: Implement caching
Caching is one of the best ways to see huge impacts on website performance. Without caching, websites send queries back and forth from the database every time a page is rendered or images are loaded. With caching enabled, most of the website is stored and pre-loaded so that the only new loading that will need to happen is incase a new change was made on the website. These pre-loaded versions of a website load substantially faster than the normal ones without caching. If you’re using WordPress or Wix, check out and download one of the many great caching plugins available. If you’re looking for a different approach for caching or have another type of website and need help, let us know!
Step 3: Check and improve your hosting plan and server
Your hosting plan plays a very important role in overall website performance. No matter how much effort you put into improving your site, if the server is slow and you got the most basic hosting plan available, no amount of website optimizations will matter. Rule of thumb when it comes to hosting and web development in general: You get out what you put in. A good server and web design can not only increase load times out of the box, there are many server configurations that can be enabled to further see performance boosts. Ask your hosting provider about the PHP, HTTP, and GZip versions they have available.
Step 4: Continuously improve
Optimization will never be a one-time thing. Good site performance and maintenance is an aggregate of good practice, diligence, the right server hardware, and proper front and back end web practices. Keep in mind: By optimizing your website performance, you are minimizing the number of users who’ll become impatient and decide not to wait around and buy your product or sign up to your website — and in this scenario, every fraction of a second counts!