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Website Speed Optimization: 10 Methods to Improve Page Load Times

The time it takes to load your web page can make the difference between a sale and a lost customer, which is why it’s an important thing to consider when you're designing your business website. Many business owners are willing to accept a slower loading page to accommodate a cooler design or trendy function. But is it really worth it?

Unless you’re a creative agency or a temporary microsite, the answer is probably no. Visitors to your site prefer speedy loading than fancy gadgets and shoppers won’t put up with slow loading times, they will simply skip to another, faster site.

Benefits to Fast Page Load Times

So just how fast should your website load? According to Maile Ohye from Google, the acceptable threshold for an e-commerce website is two seconds. Obviously, when it comes to e-commerce page load times, literally every second counts. A faster loading site gives users a good experience and satisfied leads turn to successful conversions.

Site speed is not only important for retaining users, but it is also an important ranking factor. For example, Google is currently ranking sites based on their mobile experience. This means that your business must focus on delivering the fastest mobile and desktop experience they can. If you don’t, you’ll be missing out on organic rankings and paid ROI. 

Ways to Decrease Page Load Times

Here are some methods you could use to speed up your webpage loading time:

Optimize Images

Images are powerful tools for your e-commerce website, but they are also the number one cause of slow page load times. When you are working with images on the web, make sure you are using the correct file types. Choose SVG or WebP files over PNG or JPG as they are smaller and more malleable. Also, check that you have the most efficient image size. When you’ve got these two right, compress your image to optimize it fully.

Enable Browser Caching

There’s no need to make users download the same things each time they visit your page. By enabling browser caching, you can temporarily store some data on your visitors’ computer. Your pages will load faster. How long the data will be stored on your visitors’ computer will depend on your server cache settings and their browser configuration.

Optimize Your CSS

The CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) load before visitors see your site. The longer they take to load, the longer your visitors will have to wait. There are several ways you can optimize your CSS to give your visitors quicker access to your pages. First of all, dump the superfluous codes in your files; wasted data will slow down your loading time. Next, you need to reduce the size of your CSS files. Unnecessary spaces in your stylesheet will increase the file size and make it take longer to load. You should make your CSS files as small as possible.

Check Your Website Hosting

Your web host could be contributing to slow page loading. If you use a cheap web host, you will usually be on a shared server. This means you will be sharing space and resources with many other websites. If your server’s performance is poor, its response time will be longer because you will be waiting in line with lots of other websites.

Eliminate Unnecessary Plugins

Unnecessary add-ons and plugins can drastically cut your website speed. In some cases, up to 80 percent. It’s important to check not only the number of plugins that you are using, but also their quality. Eliminate plugins which load excessive styles and scripts, ones that increase the number of database queries, and ones that perform many remote requests.

Use a CDN

If your website is hosted on an American server, it will load quicker for U.S.-based users or users with an American VPN service. However, visitors from other countries will experience a longer load time. You can solve this problem by using a CDN (Content Delivery Network). A CDN will redistribute your website data across a network of services located around the globe. This means faster web page loading for users in other countries. Using a CDN may increase your website speed by as much as 60 percent.

Enable Compression

If you utilize GZIP compression, then you can handle content encoding to minimize the number of server requests your browser makes. This is because GZIP compression shrinks your file sizes so that they load quicker. You can find out how your current compression looks by using this online tool.

Minify CSS3, JavaScript, and HTML5

To do this effectively, you will need to eliminate unnecessary code, excessive white space, and unneeded comments. All these strategies will significantly improve your website loading performance as they will reduce the files sizes. You can also make CSS and JavaScript external, which will make pages load faster because their files will be cached by the browser.

Apply AJAX to Speed Up your Website

AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is a set of web development tools which can be used to make faster web applications. The main purpose of AJAX is to update web content asynchronously. This ensures that the user’s web browser does not reload the content of a complete web page when only a small percentage of the page’s content needs to change. AJAX is commonly used to update features such as online forms, polls, surveys, comments sections, and status and notification bars. The result is speedier loading times.

Select Your CMS Wisely

When it comes to content management systems (CMS), all are not created equally, which means there are a number of factors which you need to consider. A good CMS, such as Zesty.io, will enable you to create and maintain your website without need assistance from technical support. It should allow you to easily manage or update site content efficiently by means of an interface that is simple enough for non-technical persons to use.

It should include security features which will protect your website against security attacks and password compromises. Additionally, you should be able to assign roles throughout your company to allocate who can update specific pages or sections of your site. This will prevent accidental or unauthorized content update.

A good CMS can also improve your website’s performance by optimizing page loading and using multiple servers. Furthermore, a quality CMS should provide you with tools which will help to drive more organic traffic to your site. Such tools include advanced URL management, and auto redirects. If you keep these issues in mind, it should make it easy for you to choose a CMA that’s just right for your business.

If you’re still not convinced that speeding your website is important, take a look at what it did for some the most successful companies out there. For example, for every 100 milliseconds Amazon improves their speed, they increase revenue by 1 percent. When Shopzilla boosted their landing page load time from 6 seconds to 1.2 second, their revenue increased by 12 percent. See how much you can shave off your website loading time and what it does for your business. 

By Gisele Blair

A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

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