We all know what it’s like to search for a while looking for the right bit of information, only to find that when we think we’ve struck gold and are about to have revealed to us exactly what we want to read, it takes aaaaaaaaages to download.
Speeding up your website can make a really significant difference to your user’s experience, and will help to keep them engaged with your content. That’s why it’s so vital, especially in this world of haste we are living in, to make sure that YOUR website is as speedy as it can be. So what can you do about it? Read on for starters!
1. Choose a really good website hosting provider.
Probably the number 1 cause of a slow website is a slow website hosting provider. No matter what else you do to speed up your website (see 2-6 below) if you choose to skimp on paying for decent hosting then you are totally at their mercy.
Over the last 20+ years I’ve changed hosting providers a handful of times, and sometimes that has as much as halved the time it takes for a page to load. Choose a website hosting provider that has a great track record, that has excellent word of mouth referral, and that specialises in the type of website you are running. Pretty much all of my websites are powered by WordPress (as are over a quarter of ALL websites) – so I choose a hosting provider that know precisely how to maximise the efficiency of a WordPress website on their servers.
2. Minimise your website’s code.
Also a good habit to get into if you are coding the website is to minimise the amount of comments you are making in the code (leaving enough to decipher it of course!) and try and keep it neat and tidy.
3. Cut out theme bloat.
There is nothing like a theme that promises everything to get a user to download and buy it! At the time it may even seem like a good idea “the theme has so many things it can do – wow we’ll be able to do everything and never need to buy another theme again”. What actually happens is that you end up using 10% of what the theme offers, so when your website is running 90% of the theme is loading in the background but not even being seen, and the extra bonus is that it is slowing down the performance of your website.
Choose your theme wisely – start with the basics, and then if you need your website to do something extra special, find the right plugin to add onto your minimal theme (or better yet get a developer to code that into your website.
4. Optimise your images.
I wrote another blog post to answer the question ‘What does image optimisation mean‘ not so long ago. Basically it means cutting the image down in size, and then reducing the quality enough so that it vastly reduces the (file) size of the image. If you have alot of images on your website then this becomes more important, as several un-optimised images trying to load at the same time will slow down any website, even if you’re a SuperFast Broadband customer.
6. Use (CSS3) code, and not graphics where possible.
“What does that even mean?” I hear you cry! Good point. What it means is that a designer doesn’t have to create clunky graphical images for things like shadow effects, backgrounds, rounded corners, or graphical gradients. Those techniques have had there day (now in the fairly distant past) and a good thing too, as the current day alternative is to add a few lines of well placed code that will then tell the user’s browser window where to place these graphics, without the need for the browser to go off, find, and then download multiple small cut up images.
I admit – there are some things in the above points that are a little ‘technical’. Sorry about that. But that’s part and parcel of the way things are, and why it’s a good idea, if you don’t easily lean towards a technical understanding, to have your web designer make sure these things are in place on your website. Funnily enough I happen to make websites that download quickly… so if you’d like me to look at how quickly your website is downloading, and what can be done to make it quicker, then get in touch.