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Website visitors are becoming increasingly intolerant of the slow performance of the website. While the speed of the internet and all the other components that affect the loading of a website is constantly increasing, so is the amount of information on websites. Therefore, a slow website is the most common reason why a visitor decides never to return to your site. Various researches show that 40% of users leave a website if it takes 3 seconds or more to load.
Speed is also relevant for SEO (search engine optimization). For search engines, it is important that websites at the top of the search results load quickly. So slow websites are usually listed at lower positions, even if they are more relevant to the query submitted. Therefore, website speed is important for all websites, especially if it is an e-shop – the longer the pages load, the more likely a visitor is to purchase a product on your competitors’ website.
So, what steps should be taken to reduce site loading time?
Tools for Website Analysis
On the Internet you can find many different tools to find out which parts of your website take the longest to load and which ones need to be optimized. However, as far as we’ve noticed, our customers tend to trust the following tools the most:
Google PageSpeed Insights – this tool not only provides an analysis of your site’s content, but also offers steps you can take to reduce your site’s loading time as well as information on which steps should be taken first regarding your site.
Pingdom – an analysis tool that provides highly detailed information and thus has been used for a long time as one of the most informative of all. Not only does it provide site analysis, but it also shows you how your site’s load time has changed, so you can monitor your success in speeding up your site.
GTmetrix – also one of the top rated website analysis engines, which additionally checks the scores given by Google PageSpeed and YSlow analysis tools and includes them in its evaluation. You can also set up automatic notifications that will provide information if GTMetrix notices that a site has slowed down.
Each of these tools presents the scan results differently. Different measurement criteria are used and measurement is done from different parts of the world. Therefore, we recommend that you test them all to identify the root causes of slow performance and to obtain as complete information as possible.
After performing a site analysis, we suggest passing on the scan results to your site developers, programmers, or systems administrators.
Ways to Speed Up the Website
After the analysis, you’ll see which components of your site take the most time to load in the overall rendering process. Here are some ways you can help your site run faster:
Photo reduction. When you create a website, you want to use the highest quality photos, but uploading a high quality photo takes up more space. In order to be displayed to a visitor, it has to be downloaded and it takes a long time. Therefore, we recommend that you minimize the size and quality of your photo. You can use AdobePhotoShop, Pixlr, or online tools such as Kraken.io, Compressor.io, or the like to reduce pictures. Some content management systems (such as WordPress) have separate plugins that automatically optimize the photo to take up less space.
Caching of the site. When a visitor opens a website, the browser has to execute code every time, which often requires a lot of server resources. By using temporary data storage, or cache, on your site, your browser preserves the dynamic (PHP) content of your sites by converting it to static (HTML + CSS) content. This reduces the loading time of the site, as the data do not have to be regenerated when opening the site a second time. You can use various plugins to store temporary data, which are available in the CMS system you are using.
Removal of unnecessary plugins. When building a website, a large number of plugins are often installed, as they are necessary for the creation or operation of the website. All of them require some amount of resources, although some may no longer be needed or may use an old code that requires unreasonably more resources and thus prolongs the loading time of the site. We recommend that you regularly review your existing plugins, update to the latest versions, and remove any that you no longer need. The update will also help protect against outdated and insecure software that allows websites to be hacked easily.
Reduction of HTTP redirects. In order for the browser to get all the data needed to display the site, its files use static content redirects to other files to gather all the information. A large number of redirects unnecessarily loads the site and prolongs its loading time. We recommend checking these redirects with the Pingdom Website Analysis Tool. Once you’ve found all the redirects, we suggest you move on to another way to speed up your site.
Use of the CDN Service. CDN (content delivery network) – using the content delivery network is most useful if the majority of your website visitors live abroad. With CDN, static website content for visitors is loaded from the physical proximity server, which helps reduce loading time. CDN also helps protect against various types of attacks directed at a website or server. This service hides the real server address and filters requests to the website. The most popular CDN tools are CloudFlare, Incapsula, Akamai, Sucuri, and more.
Database optimization. Content management systems store data in databases for various websites. The data stored is such as visitor activity reports, registered users’ visit’s history, unapproved comments, inactive items, and more. Over time, these data increase and if left unchecked, the capacity of the database decreases and slows down. This also affects the site’s operation, so it is necessary to review the tables in the database regularly. We recommend that you save a copy of your database before optimizing it to avoid accidentally deleting important data.
Reduce / merge Flash content. If your site uses interactive Flash content, chances are it is running slower due to the large amount of resources required by the Flash plug-in. We recommend reducing the amount of interactive content or combining several separate plug-ins into one. To use interactive content that has the least possible impact on your site’s performance, we encourage you to take a look at the capabilities of HTML5.
Viewing external scripts. Some scripts refer to external sites in order to load the content they need. These can be a Facebook Like page, a Twitter plugin, individual commenting plugins, site analysis service scripts and the like. Using this content causes additional site loads and prolongs site loading time. While this is usually only a few hundredths of a second, this aspect should also be considered in order to substantially increase the speed of the site loading.
Changing your site hosting plan. The speed of the website is also affected by the amount of resources provided by the server. However, we recommend that you consider this solution only after you have already tried the methods listed above. If, however, you decide that the only solution is to change your hosting plan, we suggest that you pay attention to the following aspects before you proceed:
Upgrading plans on shared servers has no effect. The amount of resources that affect site speed is the same in these plans.
The site may run faster if you move it from a shared server plan to a separate Professional Hosting server. However, it also depends on the site itself. If this is a site with a small amount of information and no optimization work is done on the part of the site before the transfer, the visitor will not feel the change. For high-volume websites, a professional hosting server provides more resources than a shared server. Therefore, if the site developers found that the site was lacking resources, moving it to a separate server would increase the speed of the site.
The site will also be provided with more resources by moving it from a shared server to a self-managed dedicated server. However, if the server is not configured correctly by the server administrator, the site may run even slower than on a shared server. We recommend that you move your site to this type of server only if you have determined that your site requires more resources and have a competent server administrator who can provide ongoing server maintenance.
Because the website’s operation speed is so important to the visitor, it is very important to pay attention to this if you want to maintain traffic to the website. By following the website acceleration methods we provide, you can reduce your website load time by half or even more. However, bear in mind that not all of the methods listed may turn out to be helpful in your case. Additionally, we would like to warn you that some of the methods provided will require the intervention of website developers or programmers. And it is not necessary to apply all the methods at once – the most important thing is to choose the most relevant solutions for your site. Good luck!
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