Site Speed | Visitors Love Speed!

If you’re anything like me, you’ll have a feeling of disdain towards the loading ring you get when you click something on a computer and it has to process your call to action. The same goes for websites and load times. According to surveys as many as 30% of visitors will abandon a website that doesn’t load within 6-10 seconds. With that in mind, it’s clear that if you want any engagement on your website, you need to make sure it reaches the screen as quickly as possible – this is especially true if your business relies on your online presence.

With the costs that come with setting up a high-end website, you would be forgiven for thinking that making your website faster is a costly venture. Here are a few easy ways to get you a faster website for little or no cost.

Resource Compression

In the same way that you can compress large or multiple documents using programs like WinZip or 7Zip, you can compress the source files for your website. Doing this will reduce the size of those source files, meaning that they can be transferred to your visitor’s computer at speeds that are much quicker than if you had not compressed them. Modern browsers are able to process these compressed files, so once you’ve compressed your files, that’s it – quicker load times. You can compress your HTML, CSS and JavaScript files in your source folder.

Browser Caching

Browser caching is great for sites that have repeat visitors. When browser caching is not set up, your visitors will need to download the entire contents of your site each time the access it. With caching, you can give an expiration date to elements of your site so that their browser knows not to download the information and defer to the data it downloaded the last time they visited. If in the event that they visit after the set expiration date for an element, that particular part of your website will be re-downloaded. This means that only new information is being downloaded and your time to screen is then reduced as a result.

Image Scaling

When it comes to images on website, there’s absolutely no need to place very high resolution images for display on site. The fact is that regardless of the size of that image, it will only be displayed according to the space it must fit, and at the very most, the resolution of your screen. Even if you’re involved in photography, you’re probably better off displaying a smaller image and making high resolution versions available as a download if needed. The best practice with images is to scale them down to the width of the area that they will be displayed. If that image then occurs throughout your website in thumbnails it should be scaled automatically in the HTML code.

Consider a Content Delivery Network

Like browser caching, a CDN can vastly improve the load time for a visitor. It can also save you precious bandwidth, even in periods of high volume traffic to your website.

A CDN can be described as a number of servers placed in a number of locations around the world. Each of these servers mimic your personal webserver so that when your website is called, it can be served to your visitor from the network server that is positioned closest to their geographical location. Similarly to browser caching, the network server will check your webserver to make sure nothing has changed. If anything has changed, it will download and serve the most up to date version of your site. As the traffic, in most instances doesn’t reach your personal webserver, the amount of processing that this needs to do is significantly reduced.

CDNs are relatively easy to set up, with some hosting companies having relationships with CDN providers. It’s best to check your control panel or contact your hosting provider to find out what your options are. If you’re a larger site or business, you might need a paid service to meet your CDN requirements. Nonetheless, a CDN can pay real dividends if used on the right kind of website.

This article was written by Akin Fagbohun.

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