Simple Ways to Improve Your Website Speed

Nobody enjoys visiting a slow website, and that feeling of dread is amplified when it’s your site that isn’t loading. Studies have shown that a slow website can lead to a loss of conversions — not to mention some very frustrated customers. Keeping your website snappy and smooth doesn’t require much. Even if you don’t have time to monitor your website regularly, you can still use these simple tricks to speed up your website in no time at all.

Diagnose Your Website Speed

Before you begin making changes to your website, the first step is to determine how slow your pages actually are. Google offers a free Page Speed Insight tool that allows you to get a quick diagnosis of any URL.

Once you enter your website, you’ll receive a score and some suggestions for how to improve your website speed.

While these suggestions don’t always automatically improve your score, they will help your website pages load faster, which is the main goal!

So what is the optimal speed for your website? As fast as you can make it go. The ideal page load speed for mobile is 1–2 seconds. Studies have shown that visitors lose interest in your site after approximately 3 seconds. The longer your site takes to load, the more visitors you will lose.

Now that you have a diagnosis of your website, it’s time to dive into some simple solutions for getting your site up to speed.

Optimize Your Images

This is one of the first things I recommend to any website owner with page load issues. Whether it’s images you’ve added to your blog or the main graphics on your homepage, it is important to optimize every single image you use on your website. There are several ways to do this:

  • Make sure your images are the appropriate size. Don’t upload a photo that is 4200 pixels wide when it will only be displayed at 420 pixels. Instead, use a program like photoshop to size your images to fit your website design.
  • Compress your photos. There are plenty of free platforms out there that will help you compress your images before you upload them to your site. If you use WordPress for your website, consider a compression plugin like Smush to make compression even easier (and less time-consuming).
  • Use JPEG whenever possible. When saving image files for your website, make sure to stick with JPEG files as they are already slightly compressed (without losing quality). You can use PNG for logos and images that require a transparent background, otherwise, try to stick with any variation of a JPEG.
  • Use CSS Sprites. Okay, I know this lingo is a little funky, but the gist of it is that Sprites turns all of your images on a page into a single sheet of images. This allows your page to load faster. You can create a CSS sprite using a tool like Toptal.

Limit the Use of Video

While video is a huge trend right now, try to limit how many videos you use on your website. Even a short video taken on your iPhone can add up to several MB of space, dramatically slowing down your website.

When video is necessary, use a video compression tool such as FreeConvert, or consider embedding your video from a third-party platform such as YouTube or Vimeo. In fact, sharing your videos on YouTube is a great idea for SEO and marketing purposes. So consider embedding videos from YouTube as just another content marketing method.

Utilize a Caching Plugin

Website caching is a quick way to improve your page load speed without too much fuss. Caching, in simple terms, is similar to saving a backup of your web page. Instead of querying your database every time someone needs to access your site, the cache serves up a static HTML version of your web page. If your page content doesn’t change often, caching can help speed up user experience and page load speed while lowering server load by up to 80%.

The easiest way to implement caching is using a plugin such as WP Super Cache. If you use a content management system other than WordPress, a quick search should bring up plugin options or tools that will help you implement caching on your site.

Clean Up and Minify Your CSS and JavaScript

If you take a look at the PageSpeed Insight example above, you’ll notice one of the recommendations is to remove unused CSS and JavaScript. One of the downsides of using a CMS like WordPress is that every time you change your theme, add a plugin, or add an element to your site, a new CSS or JavaScript file is created. This starts to get very clunky, not to mention slow.

The first thing to do is to go through and remove any of these files that aren’t actually necessary or in use. If you aren’t sure which files apply, this is a great time to get the support of a web developer or designer who is familiar with your CMS.

Another way to increase website speed is to minify your code: make the files smaller, remove whitespace, and in some cases, combine all your files into one. Regardless of the platform, you use for your website, you can use a tool like minifycode.com to manually minify your files. Another option is, of course, a plugin. WP Minify is a great option for WordPress websites.

Turn Off Plugins That Aren’t in Use

This is an easy solution that anyone can implement, regardless of your website knowledge. If you have activated plugins that you no longer use on your website, simply switch them off to help speed up your site. An even better solution is to delete them entirely. When a visitor comes to your site, it requires much less “work” to pull up a page that isn’t bogged down by unnecessary plugins and data.

The Importance of Website Speed

Page load speed on your website is not just a nuisance to your visitors (and potential harm to your sales), it also impacts your search engine ranking. A video published by Google back in 2010 shared how eCommerce sites should load in no more than 2 seconds. At Google, they aim for under half a second. That was eleven years ago. In order to keep your search engine ranking, keep your customers, and grab the attention of new customers, website speed should be one of your top priorities. While the lingo can be confusing, there are simple ways to get your website up to standard. For the more complex issues slowing you down, I recommend finding a local web designer you trust to get your website running swiftly.

Freelance Developer | Designer | Girl who knows Code | Coffee Lover | SAHM

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