The internet is used more than ever for just about any imaginable business transaction. Having a slow-loading website that times out often is frustrating for the customer and can potentially do irreparable damage to your brand. Fortunately, the tools used to build websites have evolved, and there are many optimization practices and procedures that can ensure your website loads fast and give an enjoyable experience to the end-user. Read on to know more about how to achieve a screaming fast website.
Content Delivery Network
A content delivery network (CDN) works by way of a network of servers that load common content to millions of websites around the world. For example, there are fonts, cascading style sheets (CSS), and various scripts stored on a server that loads these specific elements and pushes them down to the end-user’s machine. You can create your customized CDN and have it integrated as part of your hosting solution.
Optimize image loading
Most of the massive content on websites is images, and by improving the way you use images as part of your site will drastically improve the loading and page transition times on your website. The next thing you can do to increase the speed of a website is to upgrade images to newer file formats. Switching from GIFs to APNG, MNG or FLIF will make a huge difference. There are also tools available such as Adaptive Images, which help your website load content based on the user’s device.
The cache memory management is probably the single most powerful thing you can do to add speed to your website, specifically the loading process. Cache is a type of memory that is used to increase speed by storing scripts, images, and instructions to remove the need to query the server each time it loads the web page. The cache is stored on the end user’s local machine, right next to the CPU. There are speed optimization tools that can be integrated via an API to instruct your website to store static content such as images and entire web pages, and other redundant content.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and Cascading Style Sheets Sprites
Image loading is very taxing on the server’s resources and can slow things down on your website. Cascading style sheets assist tremendously with the web page loading process at the presentation layer. Cascading style sheets sprites take every image from a web page and combine them into one image file. The large file created by Cascading style sheets eliminates the need to call the server multiple times for each image making unnecessary trips and bog down the server’s resources.
Website building involves lots of redundant content and resources, as discussed in the topics above, and compression is another tool you can use to speed up your website. Large files such as music and video files are heavy on server resources. Compression algorithms work by reducing the number of bits in a file. Some compression algorithms even eliminate white space from the scripting code. Compressing the files that make up your website will make the process of moving data back and forth from the server to the end user’s machine much faster.
Create smaller images
In addition to compression algorithms and cascading style sheet sprites, reducing the size of images for your website and will have a positive effect on website speed. Image reduction is a surefire way to increase speed, but you have to be careful because images are what makes your website “pop.” Image reduction evolves, lowering the resolution of pictures, so there are fewer pixels per inch. Less pixel per inch means the image is not as sharp. A better way to create smaller image sizes is to crop an image to the exact size you desire the image for your website. HTML does allow you to specify the border size of the picture, but by doing this, you have not saved any file space. Cropping images, when possible, will reduce file size without sacrificing quality.
Leverage external hosting platforms
Video files are extremely large and can cause your website to load very slowly. Typically, you will add video content to your website and upload that video file on the server you are using to host your website; this is a very inefficient process. It is better to embed video files and let them run from an external platform such as YouTube or Vimeo. With YouTube or Vimeo, you can create your unique content, upload it there, or use content already loaded depending on how you plan to use the video on your website.
Website speed the effects more than just user experience, but it also plays a critical role in the success or lack thereof our site. With the ubiquity of high speed internet access, a slow loading website can undermine the effort and investments made to build it. The website optimization process discussed are excellent guides to ensure your website is experienced as desired by the end-user.