“47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less,” said Sean Work, Minister of Propaganda, KISSmetrics.
Thus, no matter how great your web design, impatient visitors will not wait around for slow-loading pages. Yahoo Developer Network reports that 80% of users’ time is spent on the front-end, further amplifying the requirement for faster loading websites.
Here are five methods, which you may find helpful in boosting site speed.
- Minimize HTTP Requests
- Content Compression
HTTP requests are important for load testing. Visitors use browsers to visit your website which creates an HTTP request on the server, where the server responds to each request. Each CSS stylesheet, script, flash component or image adds to a new HTTP request which impacts site speed. Thus, the fewer requests, the faster the page loads.
By combining all scripts into a single script and merging all CSS into a solitary stylesheet translates into precious gains in speed.
Data compression plays a major role in website load times and is a standard feature in modern browsers. However, browsers can’t compress all content so it’s still important web developers and designers take necessary steps to compress their content.
“Uncompressed content hurts all users,” said Arvind Jain, Engineering Director and Jason Glasgow, Staff Software Engineer, Google.
“For bandwidth-constrained users, it takes longer just to transfer the additional bits. For broadband connections, even though the bits are transferred quickly, it takes several round trips between client and server before the two can communicate at the highest possible speed.”
There are four main reasons why uncompressed data occurs:
- Anti-virus software
- Browser bugs
- Web proxies
- Misconfigured web servers
Make sure you ask your web developer or web designer to modify the necessary scripts to speed up your site’s loading time.
It is highly recommended that you use GZIP compression, which both Google and Yahoo use.
“Simply put, GZIP compression works by finding similar strings within a text file, and replacing those strings temporarily to make the overall file size smaller,” said Kevin Khaw and Eric Higgins, Google Webmasters.
“This form of compression is particularly well suited for the web because HTML and CSS files usually contain plenty of repeated strings, such as whitespace, tags, and style definitions.”
Watch this video from Google on GZIP compression;
Web pages load faster on repetitive visits if the resources come from the cache. Caches are local copies of static website files that rarely change.
“When a browser can reuse a local copy, it saves the time to set up a connection as well as the time to download,” said Steve Lamm, Engineer on Web Performance, Google.
“The key to making the cache work effectively is HTTP caching headers, which are sent by the web server to specify how long a resource is valid and when it last changed.”
Here’s another from Google on HTTP Caching;
Specifically for speeding up a WordPress website, changes in appearance and function are inevitable. If you are running a WordPress website or blog, installing cache plugins to optimize the performance and speed provides better user experience.
With several from which to choose, here are a few tried and tested ones WordPress cache and performance plugins to consider:
- W3 Total Cache
- WP Super Cache
- WP Smush.it
- WP Optimize
W3 Total Cache is highly recommended for WordPress blogs. Some report W3 Total Cache increasing site speed by up to 10 times.
“While researching performance at Yahoo!, we discovered that moving stylesheets to the document HEAD makes pages appear to be loading faster,” said Yahoo. “This is because putting stylesheets in the HEAD allows the page to render progressively.”
Web pages with massive amounts of content should implement this method. Remember, the Internet is a two-way connection, no matter how fast your server loads, you also need to consider your visitors’ Internet connection.
“When the browser loads the page progressively,. the header, the navigation bar, the logo at the top, etc., all serve as visual feedback for the user who is waiting for the page. This improves the overall user experience.”
Always consider your visitors’ experience when they visit your site.
Here’s one more video on increasing website speed from the folks at Google;