How to Improve Website Speed Dramatically in 10 Easy Steps
Did you know that five seconds can make or break your website’s performance?
For every additional second of load time a user spends on your site in the first 5 seconds, your conversion rate decreases by 4.42%.
Other research shows that every second delay in website load time also means an 11% reduction in page views and a 16% reduction in customer satisfaction.
No matter how well-developed your content marketing strategy is, if your website loads at a snail’s pace and your customers expect something closer to lightning speed, your ROI will suffer.
The good news is that improving website speed is not complicated. Even without a web development background, you can take a few simple steps to dramatically increase your website speed in no time. In this article, we’ll walk you through 7 of those steps.
- Now, more than three-quarters of web pages load in less than 5 seconds.
- The first step in improving your website speed is to measure the current performance of your website.
- Visual content is a necessity for a website, but if images are not properly optimized, it can slow down download times.
- Browser caching reduces additional load time for returning users.
- Taking a minimalist approach to website design can optimize your overall website speed.
Why is page speed so important?
Websites are getting faster and user expectations are rising. Research shows that 78% of website pages now load in 5 seconds or less. We already know that the first 5 seconds matter, and if your website doesn’t load within the target 0-4 seconds range, you’re likely to fall behind your competitors.
Site speed also affects user experience and brand recognition. As your site takes longer to load, the user’s attention shifts from their initial goal to the fact that they’re waiting – and they won’t be waiting too long. Just like the conversion rate decreases with every additional second of load, the bounce rate increases as people leave your site.
When you increase site speed, you can optimize their experience on your site and their perception of your brand by giving web visitors the information they need as quickly as possible.
- Now let’s introduce 9 simple steps to help you do just that.
- 9 Simple Steps to Improve Website Speed
- Measure your website speed
The first thing is: to increase your website speed, you need to understand where it is currently. You can measure your current website speed with these free useful tools:
- Google’s Page Speed Insights
- Dare to boost
Not only can these tools tell you how long your site takes to load, but they can also give you specific advice on improving your site’s speed, SEO, and security.
Even if you follow the steps in this article and improve the speed of your site, I recommend that you use these tools regularly to measure your progress and quickly resolve new issues as they arise.
High-quality, high-resolution images are a must to enhance your written content. Visual content helps tell the story you’re trying to convey in every blog post, landing page, and static page on your site. It also makes your content more attractive to users.
However, if you’re not careful, these same visuals can make your website heavy like a ton of bricks, slowing down load times significantly.
Here’s the problem: when you upload an image and then use the site’s CSS to make it smaller, the browser still loads the larger size image, slowing down your load time. So, don’t upload big pictures. Shrink them first.
Just because you set the image height and width parameters to 200px on your CMS doesn’t mean the file size is smaller. When you upload an image of 1000 square pixels, that’s the size your bandwidth has to handle.
Here is the solution:
First, use image editing software to crop and resize before uploading.
Next, compress the image. Free image compression tools like TinyPNG will reduce file size without compromising image quality.
Upload your image.
Try doing this for all images on your site. Test your page speed beforehand. Then resize, compress and reupload. Analyze again and check how fast your website loads.
Your site may already be set up for file compression. If you’re not sure, it’s worth checking to make sure it’s enabled. Simply turn this setting on to reduce the file size by 50% or more.
You can use this free GZIP compression tool to test if your site is enabled.
Next, follow the steps below to set it up, depending on your web server configuration. It’s usually as simple as adding some code to your website’s file manager.
Minify your code
Minification is another process of reducing file size by removing unnecessary content without affecting the look or functionality of the website.
In other words, you clean up your site’s code by eliminating spaces, newlines, unnecessary characters, and programmer comments from your files.
These extra characters and spaces were originally added to improve the readability of the programmer’s code. Taking them out won’t change your site, but it will shrink the file size.
Depending on how much extra space your programmers used when developing the site, minification may reduce file size – and subsequently increase page speed.
There are different ways to shrink. If you use WordPress, an easy way is to use a plugin such as BetterWordPress Minify, Assets Minify, WP Super Minify, or WP Minify Options.
Excessive redirects on your website can negatively impact load times. Every time your website redirects to another page, your web visitors experience longer wait times for the HTTP request-response cycle to complete.
While some redirects are of course necessary, you can improve website speed by eliminating unwanted redirects. There are some useful tools you can use to help you do this, including this Redirect Mapper or Screaming Frog’s website crawler.
Once you’ve identified duplicate redirects and those that aren’t serving their purpose, you can eliminate those redirects that you don’t need to speed up your site.
Choose a performance-optimized hosting provider
Your web hosting provider can have a big impact on your website speed. Your web host is the middleman between all your website pages and files and your end users.
A map showing how web hosts can improve website speed.
When you settle for mediocre (or worse) hosting to save your finances, you can face long-term performance issues that can have serious consequences. Trust me when I say it’s worth investing in a reliable, high-quality host that helps optimize website performance.
Use a Content Delivery Network
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a network of servers that provide faster and more reliable access to your website by storing copies of your website in multiple data centers around the world.
A CDN works with (not in place of) your web hosting platform. They increase website speed by reducing the distance between the browser and your website’s host server. There are many CDN providers you can choose from – here’s more information on how to discover a good CDN provider.
Use web page and browser caching
We know it’s important to improve site speed for first-time users, but enabling caching can improve already fast load times for returning users. Why not take advantage of it?
Final step: Make your website more minimalistic. Pay attention to how your visual content, plugins and widgets, and website redirects add value to your website.
Eliminate those that have no clear purpose. When it comes to design, consider that less is more. Don’t stuff your website with objects that need to be loaded if they don’t drive the prospect to the end goal.