As kids, we were taught that patience is a virtue. From endless grocery shopping trips to the mind-numbing assemblies in an overcrowded auditorium, much of our lives are built upon the principles of patience.
But, when it comes to the internet, this fundamental quality doesn’t seem to apply.
Modern internet users demand access to visual content in mere seconds. In fact, even if your website is one-second slower than a visitor deems appropriate, this seemingly inconsequential delay can result in a significant negative impact on revenue, conversions and even trust.
As our digital world accelerates, so does end-user expectations. On average, internet users expect an entire webpage to load in 2 seconds. Failure to meet this expectation can yield the aforementioned consequences, but that’s not all.
In the beginning of 2018, Google announced major algorithm updates for the current year and beyond. While the bulk of these changes place greater importance on user engagement, or the duration a visitor spends on your site, the fundamental shift in how Google ranks your site boils down to performance.
Essentially, an underperforming page load time not only diminishes income potential, but negatively impacts your site visibility.
As our world increasingly becomes a digital landscape, in order to compete within this fast-paced marketplace, you must narrow your sights on testing website speed and improving page load time.
5 Webpage Performance Enhancing Techniques
While there are many elements responsible for either helping or hurting page load time, some website components have greater influence than others. If you’re searching for a solid answer to the age-old question of how to boost page load speed, then you’ve come to the right place.
The following 5 tips are gathered from years of data and deep-level understanding of website infrastructure. If other methods fail to deliver acceptable page load time, then try and apply each of these 5 webpage performance enhancing techniques.
#1 | Image Optimization – Scale Pics Before Uploading
At this point, you’ve likely read about the importance of image optimization. While this topic is heavily discussed throughout the internet, it’s obviously still a problem as millions of websites are still plagued by the sluggish performance of non-optimized images.
Boosting site performance via image optimization isn’t rocket science. In fact, out of all the methods we’ll discuss, this is among the easiest to implement.
The fundamental principle behind image optimization for increase page load speed is scaling.
A common practice is to upload an original size image and then rescale, or resize, images using CSS. Unfortunately, this does absolutely nothing for your page loading times. Why is this? It all boils down to how web browsers interpret files.
Even when resized via CSS techniques, web browsers still download the original, or full-sized, image. This means, even for small thumbnail images, the large file size is still called upon and downloaded. For example, the original uploaded size is 1200 x 1200 pixels, but it’s resized to 600 x 600 pixels via CSS. While the visual design remains small, the browser must still download two times the needed file size.
Reduce the weight of this situation by scaling images to their desired size BEFORE uploading to your website. Afterwards, compress the scaled images using a trusted image compression tool, such as TinyPNG. In many cases, images can be compressed up to 70% without loosing quality and clarity.
#2 | Browser Cache – Boost Speed for Revisits
You likely understand the concept of caching, so we’re not going to dive into this topic. If not, this guide tells you everything you need to know.
One of the most powerful ways to reduce page load time, and increase visitor satisfaction, is to leverage the beneficial performance of browser caching.
Essentially, this method stores specific website data on your visitor’s computer. Next time they visit your site, these unique page elements are automatically populated. Ultimately, this results in faster page load times.
Configuring end-user browser caching is based upon choices determined by you. To establish browser caching, you must enable this function on your web hosting server.
This typically requires contacting your web host, or utilizing the option sometimes found in your cPanel.
#3 | Website Compression – The Speed of Small
You’re familiar with zip files, which are compressed files containing a vast amount of data without consuming an equally vast amount of bandwidth.
Website compression is basically like creating a zipped file of your entire website. As you can imagine, doing so results in exponentially faster load times as it reduces anywhere from 50 to 70% of CSS and HTML file size.
As with the aforementioned step, compressing your website is a server-side activity. Therefore, you should investigate acceptable methods offered by your web hosting provider.
#4 | CSS Optimization – The Frontline for Speed
When an end-user accesses your website, your CSS files load before the visual elements of each page are rendered. Therefore, slow loading CSS files results in a slow loading page.
Essentially, by optimizing your CSS files you set the stage for a high-performing website. While there are many ways to reduce the duration of CSS loading, the most important of these is via minimization.
Also known as minifying, this is a form of compression. In essence, when you minify your CSS, the actual file is streamlined for speed by eliminating unnecessary whitespace and refining its data. In some cases, this simple act can reduce total data transfer by up to 45%.
#5 | CDN for Speed – Activating Global Power
In some cases, page load speeds are negatively affected due to geographic distance between server and end-user. It doesn’t matter how optimized your site may be, there’s only so much compression can accomplish if data must travel thousands of miles and through multiple regions, or zones.
CDN, or Content Delivery Network, reduces the actual distance data must travel between your server and an end-user. The concept is fairly easy to grasp. Individual servers connected on the same network mirror your site. When an end-user browser accesses your site, the server that’s closest to them responds.
Ultimately, this reduces distance-oriented delay and also safeguards site availability due to unexpected server outages. Should one server go down, there’s a host of other servers capable of responding to requests.