As web developers we see a lot of sites which have slow load times, creating a huge knock on effect on bounce rates, conversions and enquiries. Google reports that every second it takes your site or products to load, it will increase the number of people who drop off, with 53% of mobile site visitors leaving a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.
So what can you do to reach that optimum 3 second or less load time? There’s several things you can do to improve load times and in this blog post we cover a few of the main ones.
Reduce Image Size
Images are key to an effective website, but the smaller your files, the faster they’ll load and the lower your overall load times will be.If you can get your files to the smallest they can be, without sacrificing quality you can make big improvements to your load times. Prepare your images (reduce the physical size and file size) to ensure the dimensions are no larger than required, and the file sizes are reasonable for your purposes.
Reduce the Number of Content Pieces Per Page
When it comes to your website, less is more. Removing unnecessary formatting, whitespace, and code from files, as well as combining them are a good ways to improve load time. If all that sounds too complicated, reduce the number of elements on a page. The fewer elements on a page, the fewer HTTP requests a browser will need to make the page render and the faster it will load.
Optimise the Way Files Load
Loading files asynchronously (rather than loading synchronously, or one at a time) can speed up your pages. When a browser loads a page, it moves from top to bottom, so if your files load asynchronously the page will look fully functional, even if lower down content is still loading. If you have a WordPress site you can change the settings quite easily, otherwise you might need to contact your web developer for advice.
Reduce DNS response times
A DNS (Domain Name System) is a server with a database of IP addresses and their associated hostnames. When a user types a URL into their browser, a DNS server is what translates that URL into the IP address that indicates its location online.
One of the biggest factors in how quickly your page loads is the amount of time your DNS lookup takes.The amount of time this step takes depends on how fast your DNS provider is. Try this free DNS speed comparison tool on your website and if your DNS provider is slow, it may be time to switch to a faster DNS provider.
Compressing files is one of the easiest ways to reduce load times and enabling compression with Gzip means you can reduce download time significantly.Most web servers can compress files in Gzip format before sending them for download, either by calling a third-party module or using built-in routines. If you’re not sure if your site has Gzip enabled use this online tool to check.
Whilst redirects are often necessary when you move and delete pages, having too many of them can negatively impact speed, particularly on mobile devices. Ideally, site owners would eliminate them entirely, but since this is often impossible it’s best to keep them to a minimum.
Use Screaming Frog to identify all of the redirects currently on your site and make sure that they serve a necessary purpose. If you find any redirect chains (redirects that point to other redirected pages) you can then edit your .htaccess file to point all of your redirected pages directly to the most recent versions of that page.
Today, it’s critical that marketers design fast web experiences across all industry sectors to satisfy customer’s ‘right now’ expectations. A few extra seconds load time could have a huge impact on your ability to engage visitors and make sales, so it’s worth taking the time to make improvements. If you need help creating a website with faster load times get in touch.