4 ways to get your website running faster

You create a website with the goal of sharing information, selling a product and/or soliciting visitor feedback. The better the experience of visitors to your website, the more likely they are to return. Few things are more important in this regard than your website’s speed.

The average internet user is incredibly impatient. If your site takes more than 3 seconds to load, about half of users will abandon it and opt for a competing but faster website. In addition, since 2010, Google includes speed as a factor in its search results ranking algorithm. Ergo, the faster your website is, the more likely it is to be successful.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to increase your site’s loading speed.

1. Optimize Images

Whenever a user visits one of your website’s pages, their browser has to load every element of the page. The elements that will usually gobble up the most bandwidth and thereby significantly constrain your website’s loading speed, are the site’s images. Optimizing your images should therefore be the first thing you should look at doing. There are several ways to achieve that.

First, adjust the images to the right size. Photos uploaded to your website direct from a camera tend to be fairly large. Use an image editor to adjust the size before you add images to your site. Second, use compressed image formats. If you have BMP and PNG files, consider converting all or most of them to the compressed format JPEG.

2. Review and Delete Plugins

There are numerous scripts and plugins you can download for free that can help enhance your website’s functionality. While these elements can make your website more sophisticated and visually attractive, they require server and network resources to work. This means that with every new third-party plugin and script, your website grows slower.

Go through all the plugins on your site and find out which ones you can do without. If this doesn’t yield the desired improvement in page loading speed, disable all plugins then enable them one by one.

You can use a site speed testing tool to check loading speed after enabling a plugin. Note that if you are testing the site’s speed from within your corporate LAN, you could use a network monitoring tool as well just to be sure the performance issue isn’t due to problems with the enterprise network itself.

Every plugin will cause a drop in website speed but what you are looking for are the ones that cause the greatest deterioration. If the problematic plugin is providing an essential service, find out if there’s one that can do the same thing but levies a much lower price on your site’s loading speed.

3. Confirm Your Scripts and Plugins are Up-to-date

Developers regularly release new and improved versions of their plugins and scripts. This is out of a realization that a poorly performing plugin is at risk of being permanently uninstalled by website owners. So whereas the current version of a plugin may be slowing down your site, it’s possible that there’s a newer version that has taken care of the speed problems.

So before you start the plugin review we mentioned in the previous point, make sure you are running the latest version of every script and plugin on your website. For example, if your website runs on WordPress, go to the Updates tab in the CMS dashboard. You don’t have to check for updates every day. Once a month is good enough to capture any major updates.

4. Enable Caching

Browser caching allows the user’s browser to store locally part or all of the content of a page they visit. Therefore, if the user returns to the page in the future, the content will be retrieved from the browser cache as opposed to reloading the entire page afresh. Since the page is loaded from cache, it is displayed almost instantaneously after the user calls for it.

These are some of the techniques you could use to speed up your website’s speed. Nevertheless, stay open minded and always keep an eye on your site’s metrics including the stats that aren’t directly associated with loading speed. For instance, if you notice that people are leaving one of your webpages almost immediately they visit, chances are that the page has a speed problem you need to address.

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