Speed on the internet is, arguably, even more of the essence than it is in the real world. As bandwidth rates exploded so, exponentially, attention spans dwindled and now if your website doesn’t load quickly and reliably enough you may not get a second chance to impress, as copious online studies will attest.
Improving page loading speeds is a fairly easy process and in no way means that you have to sacrifice the quality of your content. With that in mind, here are a handful of suggestions (though by no means a definitive list) to help utilise your content to keep your website as dynamic and speedy as possible.
- Image compression - one of the chief culprits of slowing downloading speeds is unnecessarily large image files. Be it a humble.JPG or a mighty.TIFF, size really does matter when it comes to slowing things down. One handy tip is to use the ‘Save for Web’ option in Photoshop, or similar photo-editing software, which saves it in a far more suitable ratio for uploading onto your site.
- Google Developers - Google’s PageSpeed Insights (https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights) is a comprehensive and very user-friendly one-stop resource that analyses your website then suggests improvements.
- The host with the most – perhaps glaringly obvious this one, but a little thought in advance about who you choose to host your website will help determine the site’s reliability when it’s running on their servers.
- CDN – it may sound like an American news network but CDN stands for Content Distribution Network, which is a network committed to reliably and rapidly delivering high-quality content to end-users. CDNs have grown profusely as technologies such as live-streaming and social networking have evolved on the net.
- Caching – one for the returning visitor, really. Allowing browser caching will let data reload more quickly because the end user's computer will have stored a version of the page.
- Plug-ins – invaluable to the modern website's content delivery, plug-ins should be regularly updated and de-bugged to keep everything running smoothly. It often only takes one missing update or patch to have a plug-in misbehave and slow proceedings down.
- Virus-free – again, this one seems pretty obvious but there are numerous pieces of malware that can embed themselves into website code and regular health checks will prevent them from doing any damage to your site’s speeds.
The web is awash with useful (and some not so useful) suggestions for maximising page-load speeds and there are, as you would expect, a large number of tools for testing and improving the overall performance of your website. Speed is not the be all and end all of the browsing experience but slow page speed certainly figures quite prominently in the list of things guaranteed to lose you visitors.