5 Steps to Increase Website Speed

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Site speed has become an important factor not only in search engine rankings but also in user experience. For every one-second delay in page load, customer satisfaction decreases by 16 percent and conversion rates drop by 7 percent, according to Aberdeen Group research.

Additionally, with mobile traffic surpassing desktop, mobile users demand fast load times over cell data connections. Statistics show that 85 percent of mobile users expect pages to load as fast or faster than desktop.

Here are six steps you can take to increase your site’s speed.

1. Check Your Speed

Pingdom checks your website's speed.

Use Pingdom to check your website’s speed.

First, check your site’s current load time. Pingdom.com offers a free speed test that will show a complete breakdown of how long each asset on your site takes to load.

If your site takes longer than 3 seconds, you clearly have some room for improvement. Anything more than 8 seconds, and you are most likely losing visitors.

Pingdom will provide a page analysis of your site, to find any potential slowdowns. Another tool, Google PageSpeed Insights, will score your website on both mobile and desktop and provide a list of items that you should fix, to increase speed.

Google PageSpeed Insights checks both mobile and desktop.

Google PageSpeed Insights checks both mobile and desktop.

2. Optimize Images

One of the quickest ways to decrease load time is by optimizing your site’s images. Ensure that your images are in the best possible format: PNGs for graphics and icons, and JPGs for photographs.

Save the images for the web and make sure that they are the smallest file size possible without sacrificing quality. There are applications for OS X and Windows that will optimize images automatically.

Another, more technical approach is to convert small icons or other small images into Base64 code, which you can add to your HTML or CSS files. The user’s browser can decipher this format easily, resulting in a decrease in the overall page size.

3. Compress Files

Images are not the only assets on your site that can be compressed for faster load time. You can compress HTML, CSS, and JavaScript as well, shaving hundreds of kilobytes off of the site’s total size.

When a user visits your site, the browser will check for compression and attempt to download the site for optimal speed. For websites running on a Windows server, have your developer facilitate compression under IIS. If you host with providers such as Bluehost or HostGator, submit a ticket requesting that they enable gzip, a compression utility, on your server.

4. Minify CSS and Javascript

CSS and JavaScript files that have unnecessary spaces or line breaks can add to the file size, thus reducing speed.

Refresh SF, a JavaScript and CSS compressor, provides an online “minify” tool that allows you to paste your website files code and copy out a minified version. Retain a copy of your original files when conducting this process, to make edits in the future. Name the new files with a “.min.css” or “.min.js,” for easy identification.

5. Use Content Delivery Networks

CDNs like CloudFlare speed up your website.

Use a CDN like CloudFlare to speed up your website.

After trying the five options listed above, if you still feel that your site could load faster, set up a Content Delivery Network (CDN).

You will need to utilize a CDN pay service such as CloudFlare or Amazon CloudFront, both of which hosts files on a variety of servers around the world. When a user requests your site, the server nearest the person’s location serves the files, for the fastest possible load time. Many hosting companies have begun offering one-click services via the hosting control panel to enable these services.

Resources: webmarketingtoday.co

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