In this age of instant updates, same-day delivery, and otherwise high customer service expectations, site visitors simply are not going to wait very long for your website to download. Web performance and download speeds are a growing science and research shows that milliseconds can make a real difference in customer behavior and getting those sales conversions.
Most website owners automatically assume they need all the “bells and whistles” on their site to get the most customers. But those extra features, such as parallax web scrolling and the trendy moving background are only fine as long as customers don’t have to wait 10 seconds for the site to load.
The major point to keep in mind is that a fast website comes with some sacrifices. You’re going to have to decide very quickly about what constitutes the core of your user experience, and then get rid of all the “extras” that don’t enhance that primary experience.
In order to provide the most optimal, fast, and efficient user experience to your customers, there are a number of quick tips you can follow to speed up your website.
Code your site for mobile-first quality and speed: Given the prominence (and dominance!) of the mobile web, it’s critical to ensure that your website is mobile first. The paradigm of making desktop sites responsive for mobile devices must now be switched. The strategy should be to code for mobile users first and then progressively enhance the experience for tablets and desktops. Doing so will help reduce the number of unnecessary dependencies.
Reduce image size: According to the HTTP Archive, 61 percent of a website’s page weight on a desktop computer is images. Make sure that your images are appropriately sized. Adopting new image formats, such as WebP and JPeg XR, can also help reduce image weight by 20 to 50 percent without sacrificing quality.
Cache as much as possible: You’ve probably heard this term before. Caching is a mechanism for the temporary storage of web pages in order to reduce bandwidth and improve performance. When a visitor arrives at your site the cached version will be served up unless it has changed since the last cache. This saves server time and makes things altogether faster. Make sure this feature is enabled on your website!
Combine images into sprites: This is a really useful technique that combines commonly used images into a single image file, thus reducing the number of HTTP request that are required to download the webpage. This feature is implemented through proper use of the CSS background-image and background-position properties.
Review your hosting service plan: If you’ve gone through the checklist above and still find that web performance is impacted, check with your hosting provider to see whether you have shared or dedicated hosting. A shared hosting account often involves sharing server space with dozens of other companies where website speed is impacted by the number of people using the servers. If this is the case, then it may be time to consider a dedicated plan where you have sole access to the server.
Always remember, the primary point of your website is to improve traffic and make money. The glossy images and trendy styles may seem well and good but they could prove detrimental if your visitors are waiting more than 10 seconds to access your site. Go through the 7 points above to ensure that everything is optimized and running as efficiently as possible. Your customers will thank you with many happy returns!