In an era of 4G and LTE, who would prefer waiting for a web page to load? Who would be eager to take a glance even at the finest of the websites if it takes the time to load?
The obvious answer to both the above questions would be ‘No one’!
A research report on the performance of Web applications performed by Aberdeen Group says that a 1 second delay in the page loading time yields to 11 percent fewer page views, 16 percent fewer customer satisfaction complimented by a 7 percent loss in conversations.
“It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It is that they can’t see the problem.”
The above words by Gilbert K. Chesterton truly describe the situation with the slow websites. We often keep on experimenting solutions to our problem without knowing the cause of it. Hence, in this blog, we will not only discuss the solutions to speed up a website but will also focus on the primary reasons for the delay in website loading and functioning.
Innumerable factors need to be considered while we are searching for reasons to justify the reduction in the speed of page loading. These factors include the server chosen to host your website, content elements which include the redirects to another page, specifying a character set, optimising your codes, avoiding bad requests and minimising DNS lookups, the various semantics of CSS, JS and Images inserted into the web page. Let us consider and elaborate few of the important factors below.
First and foremost factor is that where is your website hosted? To check the speed issues, one must be aware if the website is hosted on a dedicated hosting platform or a shared one. Well, shared hosting is one in which many websites are hosted on the same server. Contradictorily, a dedicated hosting has a dedicated server for hosting a single website or a group of the same company’s websites. Website hosted on shared hosting will have some impact on speed, as resources are shared among the websites. The dedicated host provides full resources to the single or a limited number of websites.
Another way to boost the speed of our websites is to minimise the number of redirects. Redirects introduce a considerable amount of latency to fetch the HTTP request initiated by the user. Hence, it is highly advised to assign redirects to any page only if no other solution works for the same.
Small things, if taken care of while working with coding can also increase the speed of a website. For example, introducing a character set in the HTTP header will also push the website’s performance. Moreover, removing unnecessary data like comments, white spaces and empty elements will also uplift the website’s throughput by decreasing network latency and speeding up loading time.
Also, introducing proper validations over the elements and saving the processing count can also be of great help. Here, reducing the number of DNS lookups will also contribute towards speeding up the website as a statistic says that on an average, a DNS lookup can take up to 3 seconds to load the page. Hence, increasing the number of unique hostnames will indirectly decrease the response time.
CSS & JS
The backend is the backbone of the website for sure; nevertheless, front end impacts the users to great extend! And so does it affect the functioning of the site. Images, CSS and JS behind it; all need to be better understood and corrected while speeding up the website. The foremost remedy is to mention the size of the image. Dimensionless images will cause the browser to reflow even after the site is loaded.
Moreover, always make it a habit to optimise images wherever possible. This typically helps where the users with a slower connection. Nowadays, images can be easily optimised or compressed using free online tools such as compressjpeg.com, jpeg-optimizer.com, JPG Cleaner and many others.
Further always resizing images whenever needed because scaling images using HTML burdens the bandwidth. Also, putting the CSS file link in the header section of the document will stop the progressive rendering of the web page. It is always recommended to put CSS and JS in external files.
Caching is one of the very important things that needed to be taken an account of while speeding up your website. Externally specifying JS and CSS files will ensure you can easily set caching on the client’s side. Along with this, you can also alter the way certain pages are cached. Certain tags in the header can specify how pages are cached. For example, if a certain page is static and will not depend on user input, you can provide a “never” value to the “Expires” header. “Expires” header fosters the speed of the website in two ways. Firstly, it reduces the need for the user to download the same file from the web server twice and secondly it cuts down upon the HTTP requests that need to be made; indirectly saving the time taken to load the page.
In a nutshell, while looking out for ways to increase the speed of a website, you must not only find out various tactics and sneak outs but also search for the flaws in your work and try to work on them with specific solutions.
Please share your experience, how you worked around to make your website fast loading?