New research by Google has found that 53% of mobile website visitors will leave if a webpage doesn’t load within three seconds.
3 seconds is not a long time when the average load time for sites is 19 seconds on a 3G connection and 14 seconds on a 4G connection.
Sites that loaded within 5 seconds boast 25% higher ad viewability, 70% longer average sessions, and a 35% lower bounce rate.
These are considerably alarming figures when the average user spends around 15 seconds on a website before deciding if they’re going to stay or not!
With this in mind, do you know if your website takes longer than 15 seconds to load?
Let’s explore the 10 ways you can speed up your website and keep it loading fast in the future:
1. Optimise Your Images or Videos
One of the main reasons why websites load slow – are large, unoptimised image or video files. A lot of website owners upload large photos and videos because they want to present the best possible quality of their work, yet this compromises their site’s performance. Large files make their website pages heavier, which increases the time needed to load their content.
The solutions are simple:
- Optimise and prepare your images for the web, before uploading them. Reduce their size to the recommended size of the site section to which you will upload them (there’s no need to use a full screen image for a testimonials section that has a small photo of your client. Scale them accordingly). Run your photos through an optimisation tool, such as TinyPNG or JPEGmini. Only then upload them to your site.
- If you want to upload a video to your website, scale its dimensions to the appropriate size of the website section you plan to show it on. Then, run it through a video optimisation tool, such as VideoSmaller. Often, it makes more sense to embed a video from Youtube, rather than host it on your website. This helps save some page MBs.
- Let’s also talk about your existing website content. There are 2 ways you can reduce the size for the images that you’ve previously uploaded to your website. ONE is optimise and re-upload them. TWO is to use tools that do the work for you. If you have a WordPress website, you can use plugins such as Resmush.it or ShortPixel Image Optimizer. With video content – you can either re-upload optimised video files, or upload your videos to Youtube and replace them with embeds.
2. Curate Content
Another mistake is uploading thousands of photos or videos on your website. Even if they are reduced in size and optimised for the web, they still create a large amount of HTTP requests, which can contribute to your website taking longer to load.
Curate your work and upload only the best examples of your work and projects. Give your prospects just enough to make a decision. Yet don’t overwhelm them with everything you’ve got.
3. Recommended Plugins (for WordPress Users)
If you’re running a WordPress site you can improve its performance by using dedicated plugins. The 3 most important aspects that you need to look into, are caching, minification and compression. Here are 3 free plugins that we recommend using:
WP Super Cache for caching
This plugin generates static HTML files from your dynamic WordPress site. After an HTML file is generated your web server will serve that file instead of processing the comparatively heavier WordPress scripts.
Autoptimize for minification
The Autoptimize plugin can aggregate, minify and cache scripts and styles, defer CSS and JS files, optimise Google Fonts, etc. It’s a powerful tool that can help you improve your website’s performance and loading time. Note that the Image Optimisation option from this plugin can sometimes change the source of images and logos, which may overlap. Hence we recommend disabling this setting.
WP Performance Score Booster for compression
You can use this plugin to enable GZIP compression, remove any query strings from static resources like CSS or JS files, set expires caching to leverage browser caching, etc. All these will help you speed up your site.
Know that setting up these plugins requires some technical knowledge. You will also need to run some testing to find the best settings that work for your website. As an alternative solution, you can look into an all-in-one premium plugin like WP Rocket. It comprises all of the features listed above.
NOTE: The beauty of WordPress is that you can add a bunch of plugins to extend the functionality and features of your website. And while plugins can add a lot of value and benefits to your website, they can also slow it down if you have too many, they can cause security issues – if you have outdated ones, and they can break your website – if not configured correctly or if they conflict with other plugins/site settings. We recommend doing regular plugin checkups, to clean up any outdated or irrelevant ones.
4. Get Good or Better Hosting (for WordPress Users)
If you’re a WordPress user, you can choose whichever hosting company (server) you want for your website. This gives you more control over how your website works, and how fast it loads information for your clients.
There are 5 main criteria that you need to look at, when choosing the right hosting provider for your website – server speed, server location, pricing, customer support and the amount of monthly site visitors you have.
5. Use a CDN (for WordPress Users)
Alternatively, if you have a Hashtag NerdBird hosting account, you will have access to the CDN in your settings. To view our plans, click here.
NOTE: Using a CDN makes sense for those who have multiple website visitors from different parts of the world. If your business is local, use a reliable hosting provider with servers located closest to your city or country, no need for a CDN.
6. Implement Lazy Loading (for WordPress Users)
Lazy loading is a technique that allows websites to serve content when it’s needed, instead of loading it all at once and making the user wait for the page to fully load. At Hashtag NerdBird we implement this into our blogs.
7. Reduce the Use of Web Fonts
Of course, the temptation of using pretty custom fonts is always there. We work in the creative industry, standing out and showcasing our elegant branding through exquisite typography and design – that’s how we get clients. Yet too many fonts can unfortunately slow down your site. Consider using web safe fonts or reduce the number of fonts on your site to two. You can always use variations of those font families to add more depth and character to your brand.
Though, if using a custom font is an absolute necessity, we recommend preloading your fonts. At HNB we will integrate them into your website for you – like we have with our own site!
8. Reduce Redirects
Creating redirects for old, deleted pages is a common practice to avoid broken links and provide site visitors with a relevant and good quality experience. Yet, having too many redirects creates additional HTTP requests that can slow down your website. Google recommends minimising or fully eliminating redirects on your website. Also, avoid redirect chains, these are redirects that point to other redirected pages, which create extra requests and cause your pages to load slower.
To check your site’s redirects or identify whether there are any broken links that need to be fixed, you can use Google Search Console (go to Index – Coverage – Excluded report).
9. Reduce the Number of Requests
Every time you visit a website, your browser is requesting and receiving files. The browser requests different files from a web server to load the content of your page. These are also known as HTTP requests and the more requests you have the bigger your loading time is.
Reducing the number of files can help speed up your site, fewer files = fewer requests. You can do it by following some of these tips:
- Defer files you don’t need. In some cases, your site might load extra files that are not required and slow down your page. You can use the Asset CleanUp plugin to defer files you don’t need.
- Consider removing 3rd party tools that you no longer use. 3rd party tools (analytics, live chat, heatmap tools, etc.) can add extra requests to your site. Consider removing the tools that you no longer need.
10. Get an Optimised Website Template
Do your research before purchasing a website template, or signing up for a site platform. Yes, design options and customisation flexibility is important, yet try to find out how well this template/platform performs in terms of SEO and loading speed. Avoid bloated templates, that include hundreds of features and widgets that you don’t actually need. Because all that extra functionality that you’ll never put to work
, will impact the way your site loads and performs.
Here at Flothemes, we try our best to create tools that allow our clients to self-express themselves through their website design, ensuring at the same time that their site performs well and can be fully optimised for SEO and speed. You can read more about Flexthemes and their SEO features here.
Final Recommendation: Monitor your Performance and Results
Whether you choose to implement all the recommendations listed in this article or just several of them, remember to test your website before and after each single change. This will help you understand which steps are helpful and how much of an impact they have on your website’s speed.
If you haven’t already, get Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts for your website. Track your site’s performance, track your traffic and KPIs. Changes and improvement decisions should always be made based on hard data, rather than gut feeling.
Article taken from: Moyo Studio