In case you haven’t noticed from your own online browsing habits, internet users are an impatient lot. You might be surprised exactly how this impatience translates into abandoning slow-loading websites. While there are all kinds of statistics we could throw around, here’s one that stands out. 47 percent of visitors expect a page to load in two seconds or less. After that, they click away and you lose conversions and money. If your page load time gets into the 4+ second range, you might as well quit. Luckily, there are ways to make quick improvements.
3 Tips to Improve Page Load Time
#1. Optimize Those Images
We list this one first because it is a HUGE drain on bandwidth, especially if your website is graphic/image heavy. If you, like most bloggers, include an image or two with every post but don’t properly re-size it, you’re asking for trouble. The problem is that too often people think they can re-size the image inside their CMS (like WordPress) and everything is hunky-dory. Unfortunately, this method only changes what the end user sees. It still requires the full-size image to download every time a page is viewed.
What you want to do is open a full-size image in whatever graphics program you use – Photoshop, Gimp, Pixlr, etc – and make the thing smaller there. Then it’s safe to put into your blog or content safe in the knowledge now takes up less bandwidth.
Most websites consist in large part of static elements that don’t change over time. Caching allows a visitor’s browser to download these elements (like headers, forms, etc) the first time they visit and then automatically supply them for subsequent visits without requiring another full download from the server.
Through caching, only dynamic website elements require downloading. This puts the static elements in place for the visitor to see almost immediately, making them less impatient while waiting for the rest to arrive. It’s okay if you don’t know the first thing about caching. For WordPress users, a W3 Total Cache is a good option. Otherwise, check with your web host for recommendations and help to get the process going on your website.
When you compress your website, it reduces the size of HTML and CSS files by as much as 50-70 percent. That’s a bunch, in case you were wondering. The process of compressing is like putting the website into a zip file. When a visitor arrives, it downloads from the server to their browser more rapidly and then is unpacked. As with the caching strategy, don’t worry if you don’t have the first clue on how to achieve this. A call to the technical support line of your web host should get things moving quickly. If not, it might be time to find a different host.
If you suspect you have a slow loading website, better do something about it quickly. As users demand more bells and whistles with their browsing experience, file sizes tend to grow exponentially. Unless you get proactive about the issue, you’re going to fall so far beyond you might never catch up.
Your first step should be to ask geographically diverse friends and family to test your website’s loading speed. If it’s lacking, implement the three tips just mentioned. Of course, there are more things you can do but this would be a good start.