How important is the speed of your website? Put simply, it’s not just important, it’s absolutely crucial.
Think of how impatient people get when they are standing in line for something. Well, that translates to the online world too – people hate waiting! Time is precious these days, and none of us have much of it to waste. An Amazon study has shown the clear-cut implications of impatience, calculating that a page load slowdown of just one second could cost the company $1.6 billion in sales each year (www.fastcompany.com).
Users want things to move super-fast online and their attention span is decreasing day by day. And what with internet use on mobile devises on the rise, people on the go will simply abandon pages that load slowly…and we’re talking about a matter of seconds. In fact, many studies indicate that a huge proportion of users will abandon a web page that takes more than 3 seconds to load. The Aberdeen group have sited that each second delay leads to 11% less page views and a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction. So how do you make your website load as fast as possible to decrease traffic loss and increase website performance to keep your profits high?
1. Reduce ping, increase website performance
This is basic but very important. Traditionally, website owners picked their hosting company based on the price. But a better way to pick hosts is to identify your main target market and host your website in a centralised location. The closer the website is physically located to the user, the faster it will load. Another way to get your website closer to your users is to leverage CDNs (Content Distribution Networks). In a nutshell, CDNs provide you with the capability to deliver your web assets to your users through their network in the least amount of time by connecting them to a closer server.
2. Compress your Site
Much the same as when you compress files on the computer into a ZIP file, reducing its size, you need to do the same with Web page files. Configure Gzip on your hosting server by editing you htaccess file and it will automatically compress your website’s assets , saving bandwidth and speeding up page-loading times. When a user visits your website, their browsers will automatically unzip the files and decompress its contents.
3. Image Compression
So you’ve compressed the website files, but what about website images? Yes, that’s really important too! Images take up the majority of bandwidth on most websites. Use Photoshop or advanced photo editing tools to resize and save images as JPGs and set the quality to around 80%. As for your transparent pictures, try using SVG’s instead This will significantly reduce the image file size and save a great amount of bandwidth.
4. Enable browser cashing
In short, a cache is a component (hardware or software) that stores data so that future requests for that data can be served faster. When you enable and configure browser caching, expired headers reduce the need for users returning to the site to download the same files from the server a second time, while reducing the number of HTTP requests. And yes, you guessed it, pages will load faster!
5. Leverage object caching
Browser cashing takes place on the end user’s computer whilst object caching occurs on the website database. As the number of visitors to your website increase, the requests to your database will also increase. Object cashing will help reduce the amount of queries to your database by caching the database queries so they are accessible instantly without wasting precious time.
6. Host on SSD
Traditionally, Web servers were configured with HDD (Hard Disc Drive) which are extremely slow. SSD (Solid State Drives) outperform HDD in almost every aspect (specifically in its read and write speeds). What with the cost of SSD drives having dropped significantly, more and more hosting companies are offering SSD hosting services, which will greatly increase your website asset delivery times to your users.
7. Upgrade to PHP 7
Hugely popular, PHP (created in 1994) has grown in popularity so very much that today, over 80% of websites use it! And when it comes to PHP 7, it offers a 100% improvement in performance speed compared PHP 5.6. This means that web developers can create cool sites that meet the expectations of modern day web users with no time to kill!
To round off, the message should be loud and clear: internet users rarely have time to wait around. It’s as simple as that. Gone are the days when people were willing to spend ages behind a desktop to browse the net. These days, it’s all about a quick search on a mobile device, and users expect websites to load instantly. Increase your website speed, and you’ll immediately see a great difference when it comes to user interaction on your website, while you can expect lower bounce rates, more page views and, more importantly, higher conversions!