The website speed and page load time are the key factors when it comes to user experience. Low website speed is one of the most frustrating things that will result in a damaged reputation for the business.
High-performance websites result in high return visits, low bounce rates, higher conversions, and better user experience. By reducing the page load time you will positively impact marketing and sales processes. You’ll get higher traffic and attract more qualified leads that can be converted into customers.
How to Check Website Performance?
The recommended page load time is to be under 3 seconds. It means your website should load in less than 3 seconds or you lose a lot of website traffic and revenue if you do not meet the expectations.
Let’s take a look at the most efficient and popular options to measure your website’s performance.
Google PageSpeed Insights is a great tool for measuring a website’s performance. Get your PageSpeed score and use PageSpeed suggestions to make your web site faster. It runs a performance test on your site and offers possible solutions and recommendations on how to improve your website performance. It checks the performance of the web site based on a scale from 1 to 100. If you score 85 or above, your website is considered optimized and performing well. It works for both desktop and mobile versions.
GTMetrix offers a variety of reporting options. GTmetrix goes into great detail as it checks both PageSpeed and YSlow metrics, assigning your site a grade from F to A. GTmetrix also includes information on total page load time, page size and the number of requests. You can download this information as a report, which is convenient for further analysis.
Pingdom is a professional tool for marketing and overall performance monitoring. With Pingdom, you can monitor your website’s uptime, performance, and interactions for a better end-user-experience. Pingdom has features like rating a website’s performance and displaying browser requests, you can also store test results and track changes in website speed over time. Pingdom also provides the apps for website speed testing for Android and iOS. It has both free and professional paid monitoring plans.
Web Performance Optimization Techniques
After running tests to measure your website’s performance and identify bottlenecks, you can start optimizing it. There are a lot of different ways to make your website work faster and here is the list of the most effective ones.
According to Yahoo, 80% of a Web page’s load time is spent downloading the different parts of the page, like images, stylesheets, and scripts. An HTTP request is made for each one of these elements, so the more on-page components, the longer it takes for the page to render.
Reducing this number of requests will speed up your site. To prevent bottlenecks, the number of individual pages elements are bundled together into one file. This reduces HTTP requests and the number of round trips required to load a webpage. Making fewer HTTP requests turns out to be the most important optimization technique, with the biggest impact.
A content delivery network is a set of web servers distributed across various geographical locations that provide web content to end-users with regard to their location. When you host the website on a single server, all user’s requests are sent to the same hardware. For this reason, the time needed to process each request increases. On top of that, the load time increases when users are physically far from the server. With CDN, user requests are redirected to the nearest server. As a result, the content is delivered to a user quicker and a website works faster. This is quite an effective way to optimize load time.
In 2016, HTTP Archive conducted research that found that about 64% of a website’s page weight made up of images. Images slow down websites. Thus, optimizing images can be one of the best ways to improve your site’s load time. We need to consider which image format is more suitable. In order to pick the correct format, you might consider the decision flowchart provided by Google
Using tools like ImageOptim, JPEGmini, or Kraken is the best way to reduce the image size without compromising its quality. This procedure may take some time but it’s worth it. Another way to reduce the image size is to use the HTML responsive images and attributes that adjust image size based on the screen size and user display properties.
Lazy Loading (above-the-fold content)
You can improve user experience by having above the fold (top of the page) section load faster, even if the rest of the page takes a few seconds to load. This is called lazy loading and is particularly helpful for pages with lots of content below the fold.
For example, let’s say your webpage includes 20 photos. Normally, a browser would need to download all of those images before displaying anything on the page. But with lazy loading, it can load the content within view first, then load all of those photos later.
This way, the user doesn’t have to wait to access the page, and the images will load as they come into view. This can significantly reduce the page load time.
Move CSS to the upper part of a webpage. Putting CSS in the header of your website leads to step-by-step loading of the headline, logo, navigation, and so on. Users feel more comfortable when they can see bits of your site loading and can tell that something is happening.
If your scripts are in the upper part of a web page, a browser downloads them first and then shows content the user originally requested. Placing scripts at the bottom tells a browser to download the most relevant information first, then download the scripts.
Implement Gzip compression
Gzip Compression is an effective way to reduce the size of the files. It minimizes the HTTP requests and reduces the server response time. Gzip compresses the files before sending them to the browser. On the user side, a browser unzips the files and presents the contents. This method can work with all files on your website.
Enabling gzip compression can reduce the size of the transferred response by up to 90%, which can significantly reduce the amount of time to download the resource, reduce data usage for the client, and improve the time to first render your pages.
Web caching optimization
Page load time increases when there are more users accessing the same page at a time and thus need more time to deliver the web page to each user. Caching is the process of storing the current version of your website on the server or browser and presenting this version until your website is updated. This means that the web page doesn’t render over and over again for each user. A cached web page doesn’t need to send database requests each time.
Once the page has been loaded and the different components stored in the user’s cache, only a few components need to be downloaded for subsequent visits.
In the above example, it could be just three components and 0.9 seconds, which shaved nearly 2 seconds off the load time.
40-60% of daily visitors to your site come in with an empty cache, so it’s critical that you make your page fast for these first-time visitors. But enabling caching can save a significant amount of time of returning visitors and provide a better user experience. In general, static resources should have a cache lifetime of at least a week. Third-party resources like ads or widgets should have a cache lifetime of at least one day.
Reduce the number of plugins
Plugins can be very helpful to improve your website. You can use them to add custom functionality, improve user experience, and more. Unfortunately, the more plugins are installed, the more resources are needed to run them. As a result, the website works slower and also security issues can appear. As the number of plugins grows some of them may not be used anymore.
You need to check all the installed plugins on a regular basis. Any plugin that is outdated, inefficient, or incorrectly configured can have a negative impact on your site speed. Deleting unnecessary plugins can both improve your overall speed and make maintenance easier in the long run. Try to avoid plugins that load a lot of scripts and styles or generate a lot of database queries. The best solution is to keep only the necessary ones and ensure that they are kept up to date.
Reduce the use of web fonts
Web fonts, such as Google Fonts, have a negative impact on the speed of page rendering. They add extra HTTP requests to external resources. Try to prioritize based on browser support, choose only the styles you need, keep character sets down to a minimum, etc.
Go to Google Fonts and select the font you want to use on your site. Under “Embed,” you’ll see the HTML and CSS codes for that font.
Add the HTML code to your header, and the CSS to your site’s CSS stylesheet wherever you want to use your chosen font.
You can do this with as many fonts as you want, too. So you can fully customize how all of the text on your site appears, without a single plugin.
Website redirects have a negative impact on performance. A redirect will generate additional round-trip times and therefore doubles the time that is required to load the initial HTML document before the browser even starts to load other assets. Keep the redirects to a minimum or eliminate them entirely.
You can use Screaming Frog to quickly identify redirects.
Run a site scan, then sort by the “Status Code” column to see all of the 301 redirects on your site. Then you must check if they serve a necessary purpose and leave only the critical ones.
Database optimization is an effective way to increase performance. You need to check and clean old unused tables. Also, check if indexes are being created for faster access. And last but not least you need to have simple and fast queries to keep the performance-optimized.
Getting your website performance and page load times to where you want them to be is a challenging task but will have a significant positive impact on your overall site performance.
Spend some time looking through your site’s speed test results and look for the issues that have the greatest impact on your load times. Focus on those high-impact factors and take the necessary steps to optimize them.
Every small step toward reducing load time can make a difference and when you consider the impact that even one second can have on your conversions, they’re entirely worth it.