According to research, visitors to websites are likely to leave a page that takes longer than 4-5 seconds to load. That’s not long!
For mobile device users, this impatience increases! Check out this infographic from Google’s research, and read our tips on how to optimise your website for speed.
Mobile users now make up more of the total internet users than desktop users, so this metric should be very important to us. Of course people on the go have less time to wait for website pages to load. We need access to information quickly and even split seconds can make the difference between a user seeing your website or not.
An ideal page load time to shoot for is 1-3 seconds. 4-5 seconds and you should be looking to speed things up. More than 7 seconds, and you will need to take serious action! But fear not, we’ve got some great tips to help you review your site’s page loading times and improve them.
Review Your Website – Page Loading Speed
Check your hosting
If you’re on a shared hosting platform, you might experience varying degrees of page loading speeds that range from very quick to horribly slow. This is because there are many other users’ websites on the same server. If other sites take up large amounts of resources on the server, yours will slow down too. So loading times will fluctuate with the time of day. You might also like to check what type of hosting you have. For example, cloud hosting eliminates a certain amount of this shared hosting phenomenon by limiting the resources that each site can use, and dynamically adjusting the resources available to the server in order for each site to not exert too much strain on the server. Cloud hosting is often more expensive than the average shared hosting account, however.
Check with your host to see if there is anything they can do to speed up your site. They may offer to move your site onto a different package or platform, or they may be able to make tweaks to the current setup to improve things. If they’re unable to help, you might consider moving hosts.
If you hosting package is decent and the hosting company says it’s more likely to be your website that’s the problem, you can look to some other ways to improve the speed of your site.
Check your website
If it looks like your website is causing its own problems for page load times, here are some things to check.
Image sizes – The biggest impact on page loading times is often media such as large images or video. Compared to text and code, these assets are much bigger and can really bog things down. This is the first port of call. Too frequently, people upload huge images to their websites that are then resized down dynamically by the site to fit into the page. So even though your image might look a perfectly normal size on your web page, it may actually be a monster that has been resized down considerably – but it’s still the same size on disk. Get into the habit of editing your images before you upload. Use an image editing program to resize your image to the appropriate size first. This will also give you the chance to crop and adjust the aspect ratio (the dimensions of the image with regard to width vs height) which will allow your image to better fit its intended location. When you save your image, export it as a JPG to enable you to set compression to shrink the image further.
Think about how you use media in your pages – this simply means: do you really need all those images on your page? Could they be shrunk, reduced in number, removed altogether? Thinking about how you use media on your pages has a big effect on page load speed.
Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) – These are media hosting services that copy your site’s images and serve them for you, thereby removing the burden from your website. CDNs are optimised for delivering content quicker than many hosting services can. Services such as Cloudflare can help if your site is image heavy.
Automate Image Resizing – If you’re running a WordPress site or similar platform that allows the use of plugins, try adding an image compression plugin that will resize all images to a maximum height and width upon upload. Some plugins can also apply further compression and even convert your files from PNG or BMP to JPG as required. On WordPress, take a look at the excellent Imsanity plugin. Also check out Smush, which can compress your images after upload as well as provide further optimisation features in the paid version.
Video – Rather than hosting video on your site, which will eat up your bandwidth allowance and slow down page loading, just host your video on YouTube or Vimeo etc and embed it from there. This is often a lot easier than self-hosting as you don’t need to worry about conversion settings as it’s all done for you.
Install a performance enhancing plugin – Check out Perfmatters, which allows you to specify which files should be loaded on a per page basis. For example, some plugins add a piece of code to each page that is loaded even if the plugin doesn’t need to run on that page. You can speed up your site a lot by only loading code where it’s needed. This plugin also allows you to disable WordPress options that might be slowing your site down. Perfmatters works alongside a caching plugin.
Try lazy loading – Rather than load an entire long page of blog posts, plugins like BJ Lazy Load only load the next part of the page when you scroll to the end of the page. This can get your page loading more efficiently.
Identify which WordPress plugins are slowing down your site – some plugins have a huge impact on page load times. The plugin P3 Plugin Profiler for WordPress, and others like it, will measure the effect that each of your plugins is having on load speed so you can ditch or change or tweak them.
Trim the fat – Are there plugins running in your site that you don’t need? Deactivate them. Better yet, delete them. Every plugin creates it’s own load.
Install a Caching plugin – If you’re running WordPress, try using a caching plugin that will store compiled versions of your pages to save the server dynamically putting them together each time they’re requested. This essentially makes your site static HTML which load MUCH quicker. We recommend WP Super Cache for WordPress. It’s good to install a cache once you’ve looked at the various other steps above because a poorly optimised site that is cached will never be as fast as once that is optimised.
Don’t forget to Measure the Results
You’re probably going to want to check how quickly your pages are loading so you can actually make accurate comparisons and ensure that what you’re implementing is actually helping, rather than just adding another lump of code for your site to execute. So here are just a few tools you can to check loading speeds:
- Google Page Speed
- Web Page Test
- Load Impact
- Advanced users can use Safari and Google Chrome’s page load profilers built into the developers consoles. Activate this in Safari in Preferences > Advanced. You can now access the Web Inspector from the Develop drop down menu. Use the Timeline tab to watch how the various components of your page load.
- Add the Google Page Speed Insights extension to Chrome
Does your website need a performance boost?
Deluxe web uses high spec dedicated servers running Litespeed and PHP7 to power its WordPress websites resulting in very fast loading times. We use Litespeed cache for WordPress to speed things up even more. Our designs are optimised for fast loading on desktop and mobile platforms, and we incorporate a range of plugins and techniques as standard when building and maintaining your site to keep it working at peak efficiency. Contact Deluxe Web today to see how we can help your local business flourish on the web.