Today’s world is all about speed: consumers know what they want and they know they want it now. (How do you think FedEx turned into a multi-million dollar company?) The same rule applies to websites—when consumers click on a page, they want it to load NOW. To optimize the online presence of your business, a website that loads quickly and efficiently is invaluable.
High-speed Internet connections have made vast improvements when it comes to speeding up page downloads, but there is still more you can do! A few simple steps will go a long way toward optimizing your website’s download time.
Make Images Efficient
Image files often slow down a site. Optimize your images by choosing the “save for web” option in your editing software and compress .jpg and .gif files. Specify image size by entering the height and width. This way, the page will know how much space the image will take and can leave that space blank while loading the text around it.
CSS formatting can effectively tweak your design to eliminate the need for an excessive number of images. Using CSS as a basis for layout can help clean up your code, reducing page loading time and giving you the additional benefit of potentially increasing SEO. Streamlining CSS through a site like CleanCSS will also help optimize the load time by getting rid of dead space and unnecessarily repeated coding.
Reduce HTTP Requests
Reducing the number of HTTP requests is another smart way to reduce website load time. You can reduce the number of components the site needs to load by using CSS formatting to reduce the number of images. You can also combine all the scripts into a single script, which will reduce the number of HTTP requests the site will have to send. This will cut down on the number of round trips to the server.
Cookies have to transmit each time a person browsing the website makes a request. By reducing the size and number of cookies on the page, there is less to transmit with each request. This will speed up the time it takes for a page to load.
Use Load Progress Indicators
While adding progress indicators will not necessarily speed up your website’s load time, it will at least help to mollify impatient browsers by letting them know the page is loading and is not frozen in Internet limbo. If there’s anything our modern society likes as much as speed, it’s information!
Additionally, putting stylesheets at the top of the page will give people an indicator that the page is loading and while also making it appear as if the page is loading faster. Since the stylesheet is generally quick to appear, it serves as a progress indicator while also displaying some of the site’s content as fast as possible. This appeals to people’s penchant for both speed AND information!
Specifying the DOCTYPE can also help a website load faster because your markup and CSS won’t validate without the DOCTYPE. If you have the proper DOCTYPE specified, your page will generally load faster.
Finally—and this may be the most simple tip of all! — Make sure to include a slash at the end of your links. (For example, http://www.website.com will not load as fast as http://www.website.com/) Granted, adding these slashes is not going to take your load time from 5 minutes to 5 seconds, but every little bit helps!
These simple tips are fairly easy to implement, yet will go a long way toward speeding up your website! The benefits are exponential: a fast, streamlined site means less work for you and your server while also creating a better browsing experience for consumers. In today’s world, everyone is looking for an advantage over his or her business rivals. Make a website that loads quickly and easily and you give yourself a competitive edge!