6 Tips for Improving the Speed of Your Website
Remember the old days, when internet was first emerging and we all took for granted that getting on the internet so you can chat with your friends or read the weather report meant waiting for a connection – waiting for the site to come up – waiting for pictures to load…
Who could imagine working that way now? In the age of ultra-fast internet connections, getting better by the minute, we can’t stand it when a website takes too long to load. Nor can your clients and their website visitors.
You’ve put in the work, created a website – maybe even designed it with a tool like Webydo, which lets you design beautiful, responsive and professional sites without even having to code – you shouldn’t let anything else come in the way!
If you want to do a good job and if you want the website to serve its purpose well, one of the things you have to look out for is loading and responsivity speed. A fast website is a website where you don’t even notice how fast (or slowly) it works, but are instead free to focus on its content. Luckily, there are several ways to make sure this is the case – here are six useful tips.
#1 Improve the site’s performance
There are plenty of ways to improve your site’s performance by playing around with your infrastructure, coding and design. One way is to minimize HTTP requests. Every request like that means the browser has to take a trip to the server and back to get what it needs, and that adds work and just slows everything down. Use this HTTP request checker to know what’s going on in your own site.
Another way, while you’re already fixing the site’s code, is to keep it to minimum. Rather than code it to be easy to read by you, remove unnecessary characters. It might look messier from your point of view, but it will be lighter and much quicker to load. And finally, remember reduction is not only for characters but for files too: put all CSS in one style sheet.
#2 Optimize images
With all due respect to text – which can be as heavy in meaning as you’d like – in terms of code it’s light, and what’s really taking up space and slowing your site down is very likely images. Quality images can be extremely heavy, and the more you put on there, the longer they’re going to take to fully load.
There’s no one genius way to solve this problem, unfortunately. You’re either going to have to compress some images (for instance try RIOT – it’s a tool for optimizing images with a really friendly interface) or else, consider getting rid of some images altogether, to be replaced by vectors or CSS-generated graphics. GenerateIt has some awesome tools for generating things like buttons, gradients, menus and more.
#3 Improve animation performance
Like images, animations are a big concern when it comes to improving website speed. And like images, animations are quickly becoming super popular in websites – so better get used and try to work with them. One of the best pro tips with animation performance is to go simple: not every piece of animation needs complex gradients and shadows.
You can create CSS3 keyframe animations easily and quickly with CSS Animate, right there in your browser. Also check out Paul Irish’s great piece on why you should opt to move elements with translate() rather than pos:abs.
#4 Optimize web fonts
Fonts are a crucial part of design and this is not to suggest you should kiss them goodbye – just know how to make the best of them so they won’t weigh your website down. You can start with font variants. Your chosen font family has many different ones (bold, italic and so on).
Keep them to the minimum that you actually use and save on space. If you don’t know it yet, familiarize yourself with grunt-ziti, an optimization tool which converts large font files to smaller web fonts.
Another useful thing to do is to use @font-face, which tells the browser what variants to use and how and splits the information into different resources, rather than having to download the full font file and not even using most of it. Everythingfonts have a nice little font-face generator you can use for exactly that.
#5 Optimize the social feed
Another thing that’s very likely slowing your site down is everything to do with social media. If you’re using Facebook and Twitter feeds, Pinterest buttons, share options and so on, there’s a good chance they’re the ones responsible for the problem. Since you’re not going to give those up – social media sharing is obviously key in generating traffic – you have to find a way to make them work better for you.
Possibly the best solution is to make sure that whichever widgets you’re using, they’re being loaded asynchronously – without being dependent on other elements on the page. That way the site can load everything it needs and not get stuck waiting for your Twitter feed.
#6 Choosing the best web hosting for you
And finally, when all other options are exhausted, go back to the source (or rather, the host) – make sure you’ve got the best hosting service that will help your site be as fast as it can be. Firstly, know that location matters. If you can place your servers close to your users, for instance in case the website you’re working on is intended for a very specific audience, that can make a real difference. It doesn’t even matter that you yourself are away, because you can use data centers in other countries.
Secondly, keep hardware in mind – yours as well as the host’s. Make sure they’re using the best switches, bandwidth providers etc. A third recommendation is to invest in a CDN (CloudFlare’s for instance). A content delivery network is a distribution of servers across various locations which is designed to make content delivery more efficient. Every time a user tries to enter the site, the CDN calculates and decides which server to use, based on physical proximity, workload of the different servers, amount of hops needed to reach the user and more.