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Effective Tips That Would Make Any Website Faster

We’ve become used to instant. Tablets and Smartphones don’t require time to boot up. We become exasperated when an application takes a few seconds to load. The spread of fast internet connections has led us to expect web pages to load instantly, and our tolerance for delays has all but vanished.

There is plenty of research suggesting a visitor’s patience doesn’t last long. When asked, over 80% of people expected a site to load in under three seconds and would abandon it if it took longer. We’re a bit sceptical about these claims, but the golden rule is certainly faster is better, although exactly how fast is open to debate.

In addition to keeping your visitors happy, Google has stated speed is a factor (one of many) in how they rank your site in their search results. A higher ranking certainly increases the chances of people visiting your site, so everything you can do to boost your position is beneficial.

Here are some effective tips you can use to make your website faster:

Code from scratch or choose the right framework

The code that controls the appearance of your website can have a substantial impact on performance. That way, you can tailor all of the code to your specific site and not include anything superfluous. Frameworks (such as Bootstrap) and themes (paid or otherwise) are lovely ideas and can save a lot of time, but they need to be all things to all people, which means they have bells and whistles you probably aren’t using so your visitors are downloading things that will never be used.

Sometimes building from scratch isn’t an option. In that case, you can make use of one of the lightweight boilerplates designed to provide just enough to get you started without adding bloat.

Make sure your site is mobile-ready

Adapting your site to mobile devices doesn’t just mean making it look nice. It also allows you to deliver an optimised version that may be lighter on images and other media, thereby speeding up the download for anyone on a slow connection.

It is commonly referred to as making your site responsive, but there may be some benefits to having a completely separate mobile site and using some JavaScript (or server-side script) to push the visitor to the appropriate version based on their device.

Make use of services hosted on a CDN

A lot of common fonts, JavaScript libraries and frameworks require the same files to be included on your site as are used on every other website that utilises them. As such, many offer a hosted copy of the file(s), usually on a Content Delivery Network (CDN).

Aside from the benefits of using a CDN (having the files physically closer to your visitors), using these shared resources can mean your visitors don’t need to download the file(s). If they’ve visited another site that uses the same utility they will have already downloaded it, and the browser will use the locally cached copy instead, which saves you bandwidth and makes the visitor’s experience faster.

Pick a fast host

Hosting packages come in an ever-increasing variety. The cheapest option is usually referred to as ‘shared hosting’ because your site shares a server’s resources with several other sites. Having dedicated hardware that serves only your website tends to be faster (certainly under load), but the rise of cloud services has made this distinction far more complex. Having a correctly configured web server can save you a lot of work in boosting performance.

Optimise your images

Images are often the largest component, by size, of a web page. Whether you’re following more recent trends for vast, full-width images or simply using them for social network icons, they can quickly add up to quite a weight. Each one you include has to be requested and downloaded before it can be displayed, leaving holes in your pages and the cursor spinning.

To reduce the number of individual images a visitor has to download, consolidate as many as you can into a sprite – a single file that contains multiple images. It means only one file gets downloaded (reducing the overhead of multiple requests) and the local copy can be used for subsequent page visits.

One way to reduce the size of the files your visitors have to download is to compress your images as much as possible (while avoiding too much quality loss). There are numerous tools to do this, both desktop applications you install and online services.

Minimize the use of third-party services

You may want to offer your visitors the chance to ‘like’ your post, or pin the images or retweet straight from the page. It reduces the friction of social sharing. It also means including a lot of third-party scripts that will slow your site down. The companies that offer them have little interest in performance as it’s not going to affect them, so quite often these little snippets are poorly coded and can negatively impact the page (not just the loading time).

Romulus Dynamics is a Human-Centered Web Design Agency

We not only create elegant, responsive and mobile-friendly websites but websites that drive conversions and growth. Our design focuses on the end-user which bridges the gap between you and your visitors.

If you need help with a website or your digital strategy, go ahead and reach out to Romulus Dynamics today!

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