The web is getting faster, and in turn, less patient. Making sure your website loads fast is crucial to getting visitors to stay on your site, and return to it in the future. While page load times of 5 seconds may have been acceptable just a few years ago, today’s Internet audience will often close the browser tab before waiting that long. If your site loads a little slow and you need to speed it up some, don’t worry. These 5 simple tips will cut your site’s loading time in half, or better.
- Get Fast Web Hosting
No matter how fast and efficient your website is, it can only load as fast as your host is capable of. Switching web hosts has been proven to decrease loading time by 50 percent or more on many websites. Check your potential host’s speed and load time specifications before purchasing any hosting contracts.
Factors that affect the speed of your web hosting include the equipment and servers your host operates, the software they use and how updated they keep everything. Physical location also plays a role in load times, so consider using a host with multiple locations, or one that’s central to your primary user-base. Also check for hosts that offer speed optimization, this may be in general terms or specific to certain Content Management Systems such as WordPress.
- Optimize Your Media
Media such as images and video are often the slowest part of a website to load. To decrease the loading time for media displayed on your website, make sure it’s condensed and optimized for web viewing. For example, most digital cameras including the ones on mobile phones take pictures in decompressed, large volume formats. All pictures should be compressed and properly formatted for the web before being uploaded to your site. This means using png or jpg format, and keeping the file size between 20kb and 100kb for most images. If you want to display high-resolution images, simply implement thumbnails to give the user a fast-loading preview of the image.
For faster loading video, use a media player that detects the user’s connection speed and adjusts the resolution of the video accordingly. This can be done on-site with advanced media player plugins or through video hosting companies like YouTube.
- Reduce Redirects and Inefficient Coding
While it’s sometimes desired to have landing pages with call-to-action buttons to draw visitors in, having too many redirects can frustrate your users and slow your load time significantly. Landing pages and redirects are often used with web advertising, sometimes to keep tracking of visitor traffic. Consider linking your users directly to your content pages, and using other methods to log and analyze your web traffic. Many web hosting companies offer traffic logging and analysis, so check if your host provide any such software before resorting to slower methods.
Inefficient coding is another area where you can eliminate increased loading time. If you’re not familiar with the coding behind your website’s elements, you can simply download a code-checker plugin made for your website’s platform. These applications looks for bugs, dead links, and improper coding and formatting to increase your site’s load time significantly.
- Take Advantage of Caching
Caching is the practice of storing information on the user’s local device so that it doesn’t have to be downloaded again the next time they visit. Caching can decrease your loading time significantly. You can even choose when the content you are caching should expire, so that your users never get stuck seeing an older version of your site.
- Fast Themes and Plugins
Sometimes the best way to decrease your website’s loading time is to upgrade to a faster theme. WordPress and Joomla both have repositories of tested, fast-loading themes and templates that will ensure your content loads in just a couple of seconds. Try looking for a theme that was built on a lightweight, fast framework and doesn’t have too many non-critical bells and whistles.
Plugins can work either for you or against you when it comes to loading speed. The first thing to do is make sure you’re not using too many plugins, keep it to just enough to include all the features your site needs. Disable any plugins you’re not using at the moment. On the other hand, some plugins are designed to keep your site load-time low. Try installing an optimization plugin to speed your site up. These often work by caching content, cropping and compressing images, and checking your site for bottlenecks in load time.
After implementing these tips, check your loading time with a third-party website load time tester. Make sure to log your results, and check how fast the site loads on desktop and mobile platforms. By comparing loading times, and adjusting your site’s features to give users a quick and efficient experience, you’re likely to see higher conversion rates and have more of your site’s pages visited.