tips to increase website performance

Website Performance Affects Your Bottom Line

We all know that website performance is extremely important. Every website visitor’s experience should be as optimal as possible. With 75-80% of website visitors coming from mobile browsers, it is important that your website is as streamlined and efficient as possible. Also, your search engine rankings factor in your website speed. The slower your website, the lower you may end up in search results. Let’s take a look at some helpful tips for increasing website performance.

pingdom

Be Sure To Test Your Website Every Once In A While

With free services, such as Google Page Speed, Yslow, and Pingdom (my favorite), you can test your website’s performance for free. You gain valuable insight as to how fast your website is running, that you also learn where it is hanging up. Maybe there is a script that is taking too long to load, or maybe you have a lot of server requests. You may not know this is happening, unless you test your website using one of these services. It’s free, so why not?

Reduce Image File Size

It seems like images on the web are getting bigger and bigger. Mobile devices are beginning to be able to use more bandwidth as it is becoming available. Some web designers are forgetting that large images slow down your site. If you do decide to use a large image, make sure that it is optimized as much as possible for the web. There’s no point in using a 300 PPI image on your website.

It’s also important to remember to use the right file formats for the right image. For flat one or two color graphics, use a GIF or PNG 8. If your image requires transparency, but is still 1 to 2 colors, use a GIF with transparency enabled. If it is a full-color image that requires transparency, then use a PNG 24. If it’s a full-color image that doesn’t require transparency than a JPEG is the best choice. Make sure to save it for the web, don’t make it super high quality unless you have to.

If you’re using WordPress, use these image optimization plugins.

Minify CSS and JavaScript

Minification removes unnecessary characters and spaces from your CSS and JavaScript files. While this doesn’t seem like a lot, every little bit helps. You might also consider bundling your CSS and JavaScript files together. Remember when I talked about reducing the number of server requests? Combining CSS and JavaScript files will do that. The harder your server has to work, the slower your site will load. In WordPress, plugins like WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache handle minification well.

Use Compression To Reduce File Sizes

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a theme here. It’s all about making everything smaller and more compact. The way you compress your files is to use gzip compression. This type of compression will lower file sizes, dramatically increasing your website’s performance.

Use Amazon S3 For Your Website’s Images (Or a CDN)

There are pros and cons of using images off-site. This can be a real headache when something goes wrong. This is especially true with WordPress, because there are a lot of plug-ins out there to help fix image problems when the images are actually on your server. The problem is missing images is multiplied when your images are off your server and hosted on another site. The advantage of this is that your server doesn’t have to work as hard. Images are displayed remotely, and Amazons hardware is extremely fast. You have to weigh out the pros and cons for yourself and decide whether the payoff outweighs the possible risks and headaches that may come. Content delivery networks enable faster content to be shown.

Strip Down Your Site To Only What You Need

If you have an older website, you may have a lot of plugins installed. You’ll want to get rid of any plugins that aren’t activated. Then, you’ll want to go through your website to see what you really need. Strip away any plugins that aren’t necessary. You could also code some functionality or look for a theme that already has that feature built in. The less plugins you have installed, the faster your website will run. Also, you’ll have less http requests.

Stay Away From Script Heavy Sharing Buttons

I use sharing buttons on my website to promote social sharing and content promotion. I try my best to use the most lightweight solutions possible. However, there are some really script heavy social sharing plug-ins out there that cause your site to load an extra 3 to 5 seconds longer. This is murder for your page speed and rank. Consider using a more lightweight solution, such as sumo maze share plug-in. It’s fast, lightweight and gives you a ton of options. This is the case where features don’t necessarily have to equal size or bulk. You just have to know where to look.

There are some people who would say that you might consider stripping your social sharing buttons from your site altogether. I tend to disagree with this, because people are inherently lazy. They aren’t going to share your content unless there’s a button there to make it easy. Any extra effort you cause someone to have to take in order to share your content means that it is less likely to happen.

Lazy Loading

Lazy loading is a script that only loads the images that are visible to the user. The rest of the images load as you scroll down the page, or they load in the background. While this sounds like just another script that will bog your site town, it actually speeds up the amount of time that it takes for your site load.

Conclusion

Focusing on website performance will give you a blazing fast website that users like exploring. No one likes waiting for every page to load. Increasing website performance will also increase your rank. It’s not really difficult to do, but it’s definitely something you should take a look at periodically. You never know when someone will make a change to a script, causing it to bog down your site. Regularly checking your website’s performance should be something that you add to your weekly routine. You have any tips for increasing website performance? Feel free to leave your tips in the comments section below.

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I am a professional graphic designer and web designer with years of experience. I am also an illustrator and Wordpress theme creator and author of this design blog. I write tutorials and build custom websites. I do what I love, and I love what I do! You can: Follow Me on Twitter, Join Me on Facebook, & Or Follow James George on Google+