An insight into site speed

We live in a digital world that is constantly evolving and changing. Consumers expectations are forever growing and information must be available instantaneous. We are now at the point where waiting is an unreasonable request. 

In this article, we’ll give you an insight into site speed, and explain how to increase your site speed and ultimately, increase your conversions and sales.

Benefits of good site speed

User Experience: According to Kissmetrics 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less, which may result in increased bounce rate on your site, due to an increasingly impatient audience.

Increased Conversions and Sales: 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. This means that if your website takes a long time to load, you could be losing revenue regularly.

Organic Page Ranking: Since 2010 Google has incorporated pagespeed into its organic ranking algorithm. You may be paying thousands for paid ads, but if all you need to do is increase your site speed, you could be missing a trick.

How to improve site speed

Optimise your images

It might seem menial, but optimising your images is a hugely important part of site speed. Every time a user loads your web page they have to download the images. If you have an image heavy website the user may have a long and frustrating wait for all images to download. Firstly you need to ask yourself whether you even need all of those images or if can you use an alternative?

Google suggests using CSS where possible, such as in gradient backgrounds. When you have decided whether or not images are necessary, you need to decide which format to render them in. Vector images, for example, are zoom and resolution dependent, meaning that no matter how much they are stretched or squashed, they will always be perfectly in focus.

Compress HTML, CSS and JS

Another way to improve site speed is to minify your resources. HTML, CSS and JS can all be compressed and minified to reduce the file size, which means they will be quicker for users to download. There are plenty of tools out there which can help you minify your code, and if you are using a CMS like WordPress, there are hundreds of plugins that will do this for you helping to improve your site speed. Google has also produced a PageSpeed module for Apache and NGinX servers, which will do the compression server side, saving you the trouble.

Browser Caching

Leverage browser caching can be found on most PageSpeed Insights reports as it is a small deliverable that can often be overlooked. Browser caching in its simplest form, stores wweb page resource files (such as images, css and javascript files) on the user’s computer when they visit a web page.

Essentially files do not need to be loaded again because your local computer has already remembered them, and can refer to to the stored version if necessary. The simplest way to do add browser caching is to change the request headers of your resources to use caching by adding ‘max age’ to your resource files, this can be done in the .htaccess file. Simply add the following code to the top of your .htaccess file tells browsers how long to keep a copy of it for. There are a few ways to do this, but the most efficient ways are outlined here by Varvy.

Serve Files From A CDN

A Content Delivery Network or a CDN is a very efficient way of delivering resources to the users of your website. A CDN is effectively a central location that stores resources that are used on many websites. This means that if you visit one website using a resource such as jQuery; then when you visit another website using the same resource, you won’t have to load it from scratch again. Google and Amazon offer CDN services and also have a large library of resources already available.

Reduce HTTP Requests

Reducing HTTP requests is also a good way to speed up your website. Each time your website ‘requests’ a file (which just means to download it), it has to wait until that download is finished until it can download the next. Yahoo suggests combining files to reduce the amount of HTTP requests necessary. For example if you have multiple css files which control different modules, you could compile all of those files into one master file before deployment. 

The same technique works with javascript. Small images like icons can also be added to a sprite sheet which means that they are all on one image file, and using css you can position the image relatively only showing the icon needed.

Conclusion

To conclude, pagespeed can have a major impact on your business, both from an SEO perspective as well as sales. Compress and minify everything to reduce file size this is most useful in javascript files and images. Reduce the number of files your website relies on by combining modular css and js files into master files which you can then minify. Cache your files within a user’s browser by adding a max age in your .htaccess file, and use a CDN where possible to cache popular files.

A list of Tools to Test your Site Speed

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