It is imperative to give your visitors an optimum experience when they navigate to your website.
Slow-loading websites can be detrimental to search engine rankings, organic traffic, and conversion rates. They are especially harmful to mobile users, who depend on fast-loading sites when they are accessing information on-the-go.
A user-driven website is more likely to turn leads into conversions, particularly when it loads quickly.
It can be difficult identifying solutions for sluggish sites. In this post, we discuss five tips you can implement today to get your website to load faster.
Read on for enlightenment!
1. Consult Your Web Host
The first place to begin when addressing a slow loading website is your web host itself. Web hosting platforms play a huge role in informing website loading times.
In most cases, you won’t have to change website hosts in order to ensure a fast loading site. However, you may have to choose hosting options to suit your site’s needs.
A lot of business owners invest in an affordable, minimal-cost hosting solution. This is ideal for startups seeking ways to reduce initial costs or businesses with limited marketing budgets.
However, sometimes the “cheapest” option isn’t ideal, particularly when it comes to hosting.
Take a moment to evaluate your hosting needs, and determine if the type of hosting you have is ensuring a fast-loading site.
One of the most affordable hosting options for website owners is shared hosting. Your site, along with countless others, is hosted on a single server. All sites on the same server share a number of resources.
However, shared hosting can reduce loading speeds. Think about a number of apartment tenants who are all using the same kitchen.
Even if the kitchen is industrial-grade with lots of supplies, if it is always in high demand, it may experience congestion and delayed cooking times.
As such, websites that are hosted by a shared server may experience lag, particularly if other sites on the server are data-heavy.
In this sense, you may wish to upgrade to VPS hosting or a dedicated server.
VPS and Dedicated Server Hosting
VPS hosting is one step above shared hosting, in that it still involves the use of a single server but portions out individual resources to individual sites. For this reason, VPS-hosted sites are likely to load faster.
The premium web hosting solution is dedicated hosting. It offers websites a purely individual server and set of resources. Nothing is shared.
Certainly, businesses may face financial constraints when navigating hosting options. However, given the fact that loading time can directly influence conversions, upgrading server options may be key.
Consult your web host to ensure that it is meeting your speed needs and review upgrade possibilities.
2. Modify File Sizes and Types
After you’ve reviewed your web hosting needs, addressing site files is the next step.
Websites may load slowly simply because their files are too large or in the wrong format. In fact, image-heavy websites may have over 100KB of data to upload every time a visitor drops by.
That’s a hefty amount of data! However, we wouldn’t advise getting rid of these images, particularly if you are an e-commerce site that depends on product images.
If you are a photographer developing a website, sacrificing images for the sake of a fast loading site is also not feasible.
Luckily, there are several things you can do to ensure fast-loading content.
Reduce File Size
Begin by physically reducing image size. Before uploading images to a site, reduce their sizes according to how you want them to actually appear on the screen.
Simply squishing a large image into a site’s parameters isn’t equivalent. This actually retains the image’s total pixels, which can tax loading times.
Reduction in file size may be sufficient, but we also recommend compressing files further to ensure they load quickly. If you are unsure if compression is right for you, you can always run a compression audit.
An audit gives you a sense of how compressed your site currently is and what compression is likely to do to it.
If your site is a WordPress site, you can download a plugin designed to compress photos automatically before they are uploaded. Check out the plugin Smush, for example.
If you don’t use a WordPress site, a variety of free online tools can compress files for you. CompressNow or Kraken.io, for example, offer image optimization and compression services.
Optimize File Type
Finally, ensure that all of your images are uploaded in the right file type. For the most part, JPEG images will load quickly and enable high image quality.
PNG images, however, often deliver the crispest image quality and also aren’t likely to lose data.
Website owners may also wish to investigate total-site compression through a software application like GZip.
GZip works at code-level to ensure that all of your content is uploading in the smallest size possible.
3. Set Up Browser Caching and Limit Redirects
The first time a visitor drops by your website, her device has to download a bunch of files in order for her to access your site. This may take several seconds.
However, to prevent visitors from having to download all of this content every time they navigate to your site, you can enable browser caching.
Caching enables devices to remember the files that they downloaded when visiting a site so that each subsequent visit is less work-intensive. This can ensure an optimized website experience for return visitors and fast loading content.
To be fair, it’s critical to offer first-time visitors a high-speed experience. That’s why you should enable browser caching after implementing the other tips in this post.
WordPress-run sites have the luxury of a WP plugin when it comes to browser caching. Check out W3 Total Cache, for example.
Non-WordPress sites may require some code manipulation to ensure browser caching.
Lastly, reduce the number of redirects that your website offers visitors to improve loading speed. Redirects occur when you get rid of any online content. They send visitors to a different page to receive the content they need.
However, too many of these can hinder site loading speeds. In fact, we recommend that your website has absolutely no redirects.
Of course, this may not be possible, particularly if you constantly update and reorganize your content. At the very least, eliminate redirects that are unnecessary to improve loading time.
4. Monitor Site Performance
A variety of factors influence your site’s loading speeds. These extend beyond web hosting types and site content.
What’s more, as your online content shifts and adapts to a growing customer base, your site speeds are likely to change.
The best way to ensure that your website loads at its optimum speed is to constantly monitor your site performance. Begin by getting a sense of how fast your content is loading right now.
You can do this easily by using Google Analytics if you have linked your website to an Analytics account. If you use WordPress, JetPack should be of assistance in this department.
You may also wish to invest in professional site monitoring services. This can help anticipate issues before they become dilemmas, and identify ongoing solutions to slow-loading content.
5. Invest in Professional Web Design Services
Your site’s design itself can influence its ability to load content quickly.
For example, responsively-designed sites prioritize mobile users, shifting content to adapt to screen size. These sites arguably offer faster loading times to mobile audiences.
Dynamic websites, however, incorporate constantly changing content. As such, these can load more slowly.
It is possible to achieve a dynamic, responsively-designed site that loads quickly for all users.
As such, you may wish to invest in professional web design services. Experts will have the knowledge and tools required to craft a user-driven site. They can also help you derive a design that is most likely to load quickly, no matter your hosting type.
Tips to Help Your Website Load Faster
User-driven websites keep user experience at the fore, ensuring that every visitor finds the information that they require in an interactive way. The most competitive websites, in particular, load content quickly so that users aren’t kept waiting.
If your website is slow-loading, this could be harming your online reputation and increasing your bounce rate.
You can take several steps, however, to enable your website to load faster. Begin by identifying your web hosting needs. This may involve upgrading from a shared server to a VPS or dedicated host.
Optimize your website’s images so that they are more likely to load quickly. Do this by reducing image size and compressing them.
Enable browser caching and always monitor site performance to keep tabs on your site’s loading speeds. When in doubt, consider investing in web design services to help your website load faster.
At Bourbon Interactive, we are committed to giving our clients the digital marketing solutions they need to get ahead, including web design.
Reach out today to let us know how we can be of assistance!