One of the key elements in the success of any website is performance. A nice, fast loading website not only vastly improves the user experience, it is also one of the factors that determines your search engine ranking. The faster the website, the better the ranking.
No-one likes a slow and clunky website. If you’ve ever been on a site that takes more than a few seconds to load, you can attest to how negative an experience it is. Why are some sites so slow?
Currently, a business websites credibility is directly related to how nicely the site is designed and the features it provides. Having an image heavy website, that offers a service such as e-commerce, can weigh heavily on the sheer amount of data being transferred between the site and the user. This causes performance slowdown. The amount of code required for an e-commerce site compared to a 4 page brochure site can be vast. Add to that the huge number of high resolution images often required by an online shop to sell their wares, you will start to push the boundaries of acceptable limits.
However, many e-commerce sites are not really in a position to compromise on this issue. They require the ability to sell goods online – which means more software and thus more data. Plus they actually need all those images – as good quality images are a key factor in making or breaking sales online. You can also argue a similar case for other types of site – especially if they are selling a service that requires lots of high quality images – photographers, builders, architects to name just a few.
Fortunately there are many ways to mitigate these problems. It’s more a case of doing lots of small things which when added together, make a big impact on loading times. Some of the main methods are as follows:
- Code minification – where you take the back end code of the website and eliminate any white space – thus saving on loading time.
- gZIP compression – decreases the size the of the website files and images in much the same way a zip file does.
- Use optimised images – using images specific to where they appear on your site – re-sized to the correct resolution. Using Photoshop or something similar to cut down on the file size.
- Leverage browser caching – specifies how long your visitors’ browsers should cache (hold in memory) your website files. So if the browser has loaded a particular image on a previous visit for example, it will remember and not try to re-load it again.
There are lots of other factors involved with improving speed, such as on a wordpress site, making sure all your plugins are up to date. The speed and location of the web server the site is hosted on is also a big factor. The good news is that if you are an Inner Circle client, all of the above methods are already deployed on your site.
However there is always room for improvement! What can we do to make our site even quicker?
Employ a Content Delivery Network
A content delivery network (or CDN) holds copies of your site files and content in different places around the world – so if someone accesses your site from London in the UK for example, the site files will be sent to them from a location close to them – this can vastly improve load times. The version of this technology that Inner Circle uses has many other advantages as well – including better website security, optimised content loading and improved reliability.
Since we deployed the CDN onto the Inner Circle website, we’ve seen a big improvement on site performance. Loading times were halved and we got a nice boost in our search engine rankings. If you would like us to look into doing the same for your website, please get in touch.Back to notes