A pretty design and elegant content are pointless in comparison to your loading time – that’s a given that has been proven time and time again. Studies will show that websites taking longer than four seconds to load will already lose a majority of their visitors.
It’s quiet depressing to think that such a small factor could keep people from viewing the content and design that you slaved over; Your months of preparation could prove to be in vain.
Luckily, though, a slow website can be fixed – you’re not dead in the water, yet. There are many solutions that will strengthen your website to run at its full potential.
For a better reading experience, I have divided this post into three chunks:
Determining Site Loading Speed
Before even pondering upon the thought of speeding your website up, you must first know how long it actually takes to load. Luckily, there are hundreds of tools out there to help you, so you can put your stopwatch away.
A benefit of using multiple tools is simple – they most will give you a greater view of the average loading speed of your website. Timing your loading speeds yourself limits you to the capabilities of your own internet connection. Here are some free tools to try:
With this beautiful and accurate tool made by Pingdom, you can evaluate your website through (at the time of this article) three servers – one based in the Netherlands, one in Texas, and one in New York.
While you can’t view your loading speeds worldwide, it does a wonderful job of displaying the loading time of each element on a page (including the scripts behind them), allowing you to find areas that need improvement.
While you aren’t able to see the loading time of each element, you can view ten domain names per hour with IWebTool’s Speed Testing tool. In a matter of seconds, you can gather the loading time of your website, as well as the size of the page.
Google is, as always, stepping it up a bit with their tool – it provides tips to speed up your website. Using the tiers “High Priority”, “Medium Priority”, “Low Priority”, and “Experimental Rules”, Google outlines their suggestions to enhance loading times.
While some methods are helpful, they shouldn’t be taken completely to heart – some aren’t as essential when compared to the amount of time it will take to accomplish them.
Enhancing Loading Times
When you write code, you are almost never 100% efficient – you generally will leave extra spaces for organization or use out-dated codes. Each space adds up, though, leaving you with a slower webpage.
For that very reason, many tools have been developed to compress your code.
HTML is one of the easiest coding languages to learn, but you can easily use inefficient codes or add more spaces than needed. To solve that problem, I recommend:
TextFixer is a brilliant tool that has many helpful features such as the automatic removal of line breaks, double spaces, and tabs. It can also convert word and text to HTML.
A benefit of this tool is its options – you can easily tell it not to compress the header should you not want it to. Best of all, it takes virtually no time to compress the HTML.
CSS is an easy coding language, but is a lot easier to mess up than HTML, for there are many shorthand codes at your disposal that many do not take advantage of. It is possible to reduce 60 characters to 15 if you know CSS.
MinifyCSS comes feature-packed – you can remove outdated properties, enforce shorthand codes where possible, sort selectors and properties, compress colors, compress font-weight, and change the text’s case!
Upon submitting my CSS spreadsheet for compression, the tool gave me the compressed CSS, as well as this bit of information:
Input: 29.035KB, Output:11.641KB, Compression Ratio: 59.9% (-17394 Bytes)
While some view it as a bit extreme, GZIP Compression is an excellent way to compress your website. This is more of a last-case-scenario kind of thing, though – it has some cons.
With GZIP compression, the server will send browsers [who ask for GZIP compression] a “zipped” or compressed version of the file. That way, it downloads quicker, gets “un-zipped”, and is generally faster.
Since I haven’t made an article on using GZIP compression, I dug around and found two great resources to help you:
The idea behind caching is simple – store a copy of the website in the user’s browser after they visit the website. That way, when the user tries visiting again, the browser will simply pull the cached version out and ba-da-boom – you’re sitting pretty.
While there are hundreds of tools for caching, my favorites are CloudFlare and W3 Total Cache (For WordPress)
W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache is a do-it-all plugin for WordPress that will get the job done every time. It has options to allow complete control of what is cached – images, databases, the homepage, and an endless list more.
By default, it works magically, but you can enhance it with a bit of knowledge and research.
CloudFlare is a magical service that not only protects your website from threats, but speeds it up! Claiming (and being vouched by thousands of users) to speed your website by 60%, it’s as simple as a DNS redirect.
Upgrade Servers/Change Hosts
This is more of the last option – the fourth and thirty play at the end of the game. Should all else fail, it may be time to upgrade your server or migrate hosts.
If you are finding that you are getting more users than ever before, an upgraded host is key. If not, then your host is probably screwing you over.
How Do You Speed Up Your Website?
Photo Credit: Thumbnail | Slinky Compression | Art tools | CloudFlare Logo