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4 Easy Things You Can Do To Increase Website Speed And Performance

3 Years Ago By Diana Adams

Website speed is a topic we’ve written about many times on Bit Rebels. As a blogger, you want to grow a large, loyal readership. However, with more visitors comes more sticky problems, and one of those annoying problems can be a decrease in website speed and performance. We know from experience that when it happens, you really have to sink your teeth into the problem to get it fixed. These are easy things you can do in order to get things back to being speedy.

There’s no doubt about it, using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) is going to get your website to your customers faster. That’s the second part of the solution though. The first part is making sure your website is already as fast as it can be. It’s not difficult. There are four very easy things you can do in a short period of time with little effort. These things will allow you to increase your website speed yourself…before you fire the afterburner by using the services of a CDN.

The Biggest Bump

If there’s one overriding thing you should remember about website speed and performance, it’s that the slowest thing a website can do is make the requests for files from servers across the Internet. By cutting down those requests, you’re surgically excising the “bloat” that causes most websites to load slowly. And slow is deadly.

Here are some sobering statistics from PhoCusWright, a leading market research and industry intelligence company:

• 57% of online consumers will abandon a site after waiting just three seconds for a page to load.
• 80% of those people will not return.
• 50% or so of them will go on to tell others about their negative experience with that website.

On the positive side, websites that have increased their performance have seen dramatic results. Everybody’s favorite shopping website, Amazon, discovered it only took improving their website speed by 100 milliseconds per page to boost sales by a full percentage point – and when you have quarterly revenue in the billions, that’s a pretty big “ka-ching!”

Keeping that in mind, here are those four easy things you can do to shrink the amount of time it takes for your website to load for your customers. Increasing your website speed will make you and your visitors much happier.

Increase Your Website Speed & Performance

1. Turn on HTTP Compression (“Gzip”)

Surprise! You actually may not have to do this because your host may have already automatically done this for you. If you don’t know, you can ask them – or you can just go to gzipwtf.com and enter your website’s URL for a quick Yes or No answer.

Gzip tells the server to compress the files being sent, which are then automatically unzipped by your visitors’ browsers when they arrive. You definitely want to incorporate this on your website if it’s not already in place.

2. Cache as much as you can – both server and client side

A rule of thumb is that about 80% of this is on the client side. By telling your customers’ browsers to hold on to certain assets you know they’ll be requesting over and over again, you’ll cut down on the overall number of requests. The server will tell the browser to hold on to the files, and the browser will honor that request. This is a monster boost to web performance, but the instructions to cache assets have to come from you as part of your website’s code.

3. Losslessly optimize images

Undoubtedly, the largest files moving across the Internet from servers to customers are images. The smaller the file, the quicker the transfer, but what you don’t want to do is decrease the image file size and lose the image quality.

There are easy ways to accomplish this balance, although a rule of thumb is that you should always make the physical dimensions of the image exact to the requirements in your layout. In other words, don’t scale.

If the image passes that litmus test, your next step is to make sure it’s optimized so its file size is as small as it can be. There are a bunch of great software programs that will do this for you, and they don’t cost much – but if “free” floats your boat, you can download a Windows program called PNGGauntlet; and for the Mac you can use ImageOptim. These are “one-click” programs for the most part. Select the image to optimize, and the software does the rest.

4. Combine your CSS and JavaScript files

Focus on your global CSS file and see if you can get it to house all of your CSS. These files are data-intensive and they slow the speed at which a webpage can be delivered to a customer. So imagine how that’s magnified when you’re using multiple CSS files that most likely could be combined. That’s not going to be possible if you have different sections or pages that have unique styles, so that’s where you’d start having multiple CSS files. Otherwise, combine where possible.

If you do these four things, you’re optimizing the data-intensive “heavy parts” of your website. Then, when those now-much-lighter pieces are replicated across the network of a CDN’s servers, you and your customers will really start to see a dramatic speed difference.

Remember, data is data, and the farther away it is from your customer, the more time it’ll take to get to them. So, even if you can control the optimization of your website’s assets, you can’t control latency. That is, until you employ the services of a CDN.

Once you have a CDN, those very elements you’ve just smashed down to the smallest size (in most cases, that’s going to be your images, CSS, and JavaScript) will now be in multiple places where they can be dispatched by the CDN server that’s closest to your customer.

And now it’s time for the second part of the solution…

Your CDN will truly make a difference at this point, especially if you’ve done your homework and made sure the CDN solution you’ve decided to go with is aligned with the physical location of your customers. MaxCDN has a global distribution of 500 peering partners creating a direct reach into over 90 countries. This distributive power means your web pages are nearly always going from a server directly to your customer in a single network hop. In some cases, that means the page load time could decrease from hundreds of milliseconds to only tens.

The MaxCDN solution will increase your website speed, and get you increased conversions and higher Google rankings. Most importantly though, it will make your customers happier because your website will be speedier. We’ve used MaxCDN here at Bit Rebels for a few years now, and they have continued to exceed our expectations over and over again.

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Via: [This Article Is Sponsored By MaxCDN]

From Around The Web

5 Comments

Mikel King

September 17th, 2013

One other important tidbit that many people over look is to test, test and test again.

[Reply]

Krystyn Chong

September 17th, 2013

Awesome and informative article, especially since many businesses aren’t aware this type of service is available and some may not even realize their site is not up to par in speed (or can benefit).

[Reply]

Seo Lysiak

September 22nd, 2013

Improving a websites speed not only prevents visitors from leaving due to long load times, it also carries with it value in terms of search ranking. Excellent article, you learn something new every day.

[Reply]

Maria Bailey

January 9th, 2014

Great article. Image optimization is honestly the worst part of design for me. I like to work fast when creating, so often times, I place images quickly to see the effect and them have to go back and optimize the ones I end up using. Ughhh. Any tips or is this just my own bad habit to break?

[Reply]

SEO Distortion

March 11th, 2015

The PNGgauntlet is a program I have never heard of but is an excellent! Been looking for a desktop program to compress images rather than use an online interface when having an internet connection isn’t permissible.

[Reply]

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