Website performance optimization is the process of increasing the speed at which web pages are downloaded and displayed on a user’s web browser. As you will read on, you will see that website performance is of paramount importance in the Internet industry today.
Large companies that thrive of their e-commerce earnings have teams dedicated to this specific process of performance optimization. No matter how great your business model or website design is, a slow loading site puts everyone off. In today’s article, we discuss the 5 things that professionals should keep in mind when optimizing website performance.
According to Web Performance Today, a greater delay in page load speed causes a significant reduction in metrics like page views, cart size and conversion rates. This is importance stuff to note here. Even 500ms delay has a major impact on the customer satisfaction and the damage of poor website performance is lasting. This is evident from another graphic by StrangeLoop, as shown below. You can clearly see the reduction in the number of returning visitors if the page-load speed is > 500ms.
Assemble a team
Before you start out optimizing the website performance, it is important to assemble a team. Without a well-qualified team, it is almost impossible to even recognize the issue’s importance, let alone optimizing it. Ideally, your team should consist of a full stack web developer/engineer and a front-end developer/engineer. At the minimum, these guys can easily fix two ends of your website, the backend and the front end. A web developer should usually be assigned with optimizing the databases, code refactoring etc. whereas a front-end developer should be responsible for reducing HTTP requests. If a strong team is assimilated, both of these can reduce page load time and make a website load faster!
Choosing the technology
There are hundreds of companies that build technologies to help you optimize your website better and increase the performance. There are tons of desktop and cloud based software that enable you to monitor your website performance on the go and give you recommendations for performance increment based on set benchmarks. Website monitoring software is pretty expensive for the enterprise, but some allow a free trial with an all-in-one solution. That means, you get to monitor not just your website, but your server and uptime too.
An industry popular product is called Monitis. It functions from the cloud, boasts
a unified dashboard, has a dedicated alert system, open API, mobile apps and the ability to check for bottlenecks in your website with a deep insight system. Therefore, choosing the right technology is very important, as it can be a deciding factor in the long run. In addition, it is important to keep in mind factors like ROI, budget and features too! It is always better to have more features for lesser costs.
Don’t forget Mobile
According to GuyPo, popular website performance evangelist, 72% of RWD (responsive web design) sites weigh the same as a large screen site. Most people think mobile sites don’t require optimization as they are already small, hence reduced requests, but that’s not the case. This is because even though the screen size is small, the content being loaded is the same as the bigger version. So remember to optimize your mobile site. This thing should be on the top of your checklist, because you might already be aware of how important mobile is!
Disable your cache
It is very important to disable your cache when testing your website for performance. Put it simply, you should never think of optimization while you have loads of cache stored in your web browser. Cache gives you false impressions. This is because when a piece of content is already stored in the browser, it loads faster but that might not be the case for the real user. Cache should be removed or at least disabled.
Images are the culprit
Images are a major cause of bad performing websites. You can optimize images by reducing their size and maintaining quality through lossless compression. Another alternative is to use image sprites, CSS, symbol fonts or SVG. It is important that you use Developer Tools in Chrome or Firefox to see how requests are made. Here’s a diagram that shows transferred size vs. real size. This is a screenshot from the network panel in Developer Tools, and you should be friends with this piece of software! It really helps.
Follow these steps and your website performance should improve significantly.