How to Save Time, Costs, and Maximize Site Performance

 

Websites of all types should load as fast as possible – a study revealed that conversions happen the most on pages that take between zero and two seconds to load.

On the contrary, slow loading websites can harm user experience and lead to increased bounce rates. Consequently, they will struggle to appear on Google’s first page, as site speed is one of the search engine’s ranking factors.

With that in mind, having first-class performance is vital for a site’s growth. For that reason, website developers constantly work to ensure their website speed optimization efforts pay off.

In this post, you’ll learn eight steps for improving a site’s performance. Let’s get started.

1. Reduce Server Response Time

Server response time measures how quickly website hosting servers respond to a request.

It uses the Time To First Byte (TTFB) to measure it, indicating how many seconds until users’ browsers receive the first byte in response to their requests. The faster a web server is, the lower its TTFB will be.

A study shows that anything under 217 ms is great to ensure a lightning-fast website speed. It also reveals that this TTFB would put a website in the top 10% best sites.

Since the response time depends heavily on the web servers’ configuration, one of the easiest ways of getting excellent performance is choosing a reliable web hosting provider.

If you don’t know where to start your research, consider using Hostinger. Its global speed average is 136 ms, making it one of the fastest web hosts in the market.

2. Use a Content Delivery Network

A Content Delivery Network is a group of globally distributed proxy servers and their data centers. It enables users to store their website’s static data on different servers in numerous geographical locations.

Server locations affect how fast a request travels from one place to another. Consequently, users around the world may experience different page load times on the same web page.

Installing a CDN is an excellent solution to reduce latency. It helps ensure incredible page speed for a site’s target audience wherever they may be.


Some of the best CDN services are offered by Cloudflare and Sucuri Security. Signing up for them, users will also get caching plugins to boost their site speed.

3. Use Caching Tools

Caching enables web browsers to retrieve a website’s information from an intermediary location faster. Therefore, they won’t have to send an HTTP request every time users want to access a specific website.

If you use WordPress, W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache are great caching plugins to reduce page load time.

The former is a better option for advanced users, as it comes with multiple settings to minify CSS and JavaScript files, while the latter is more beginner-friendly. Comparably, both are easy to integrate with a CDN.

Caching tools work perfectly for high-traffic websites, such as streaming and eCommerce sites.

4. Minimize HTTP Requests

HTTP requests refer to any query that users make to a site’s web servers, enabling users to access a website’s resources. For example, using a site’s search bar for reaching a product page will trigger the user’s browser to send HTTP requests.

Too many HTTP requests can make web servers overwhelmed, especially when the destination URL contains many files, including multimedia and redundant code.

For that reason, site owners need to reduce the number of HTTP requests to maintain fast page load time.

Removing unnecessary visual elements can be a significant first step for minimizing HTTP requests. For this, site owners may start by exploring their site’s media files. Chances are high that they will find unemployed images and videos.

Next up, review installed themes and plugins as they can double the page loads if poorly coded. Query Monitor is among the best tools to locate less effective website extensions so that users will be more confident in removing them.

5. Reduce File Size

Reducing file size is another must-do to minimize HTTP requests. Like bad coding in themes and plugins, redundant data in a web page’s code can add to HTTP requests. To solve this, site owners should learn to minify their code.

Code minification involves removing extra characters, such as comments and breaks, in a page’s source code and markup. This process will result in a more compact CSS and JavaScript file size. Hence, improving the site’s loading time and user experience.

MinifyCode is an excellent example of a beginner-friendly code minification tool.

With this tool, all users need to do is click through the links on the navigation bar. It will then display a text editor, where users can copy and paste their code – click Minify to commence the action.

6. Optimize Images

Although images bring SEO benefits, they are often the biggest culprits of making a web page heavy. However, thanks to image optimization practices, site owners can display beautiful photos in a way that doesn’t harm their site’s performance.

Among the most popular ways to optimize images is to compress them before uploading. With lossless compression tools, like Kraken.io, site owners can reduce image size without losing quality.


Alternatively, installing a plugin like Smush enables WordPress users to automatically compress their images as they upload them.

7. Keep Your Systems Up to Date

It’s no secret that updates bring performance and security improvements. Therefore, there’s no reason for postponing them.

Click the Update button every time your site’s content management system releases a newer platform version. If you use WordPress, be sure to use the latest CMS version, WordPress 5.8.

On top of that, site owners should also keep an eye on PHP updates. PHP versions before 7.3 no longer receive updates. Therefore, it’s recommended to use PHP 7.4 or greater.

A study also found that a website using PHP version 7.X can handle more than twice the requests of the 5.X versions. Regarding latency, the former also performs way better.

8. Utilize Accelerated Mobile Pages

Mobile devices account for 54.8% of global website traffic. Meanwhile, the average page load time for web pages on mobile is 27.3 seconds.

If a website can outperform others in the same niche, it will yield a more superior mobile UX and increase its chance to stand out from the competition.

To boost website speed on mobile devices, a group of developers launched an open-source project called Accelerated Mobile Pages. AMP helps a web page load instantly as Google AMP Cache automatically stores the page’s information for faster retrieval on Google Search.

Mobile web pages on AMP formats are a deconstructed version of the desktop pages. AMP throws away any extras, making a web page as minimalist as possible. To distinguish an AMP-optimized page, Google will show a small lightning bolt icon on users’ mobile browsers.

Conclusion

There are several page speed optimization practices you can adopt to maximize site performance. Let’s have a short recap of what you’ve learned in this article:

  1. Reduce server response time. Opt for a web hosting service that guarantees a response time under 200 ms.
  2. Use a Content Delivery Network. It helps reduce latency so that a website can reach its target audience wherever they are.
  3. Use caching tools. Both browser and server caches can help improve a site’s page loading time, especially for high-traffic websites.
  4. Minimize HTTP requests. Too many requests can slow a website down. Thus, users need to delete unused images from their site’s media files and uninstall poorly coded third-party software.
  5. Reduce file size. This process involves minifying a web page’s code and scripts to reduce its load time.
  6. Optimize images. Some alternatives for image optimization are using a lossless compression tool or an automated compression plugin.
  7. Keep your systems up to date. Check for updates for the website’s CMS, PHP version, plugins, and themes.
  8. Utilize Accelerated Mobile Pages. Improve a site’s speed on mobile devices.

We hope this tutorial helps you optimize your website’s speed to its maximum potential. Additionally, keep in mind that page speed optimization is an ongoing process. Therefore, check your overall performance regularly.

Good luck!

 

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