One of the first requirements my clients mention when they reach out to me for a new website is – “I want my website to load at lightning speed”
And rightly so.
In today’s world, no one has the time to wait for a slow loading website. The competition is so high – for every keyword search, there are 10000 search results vying for the top place on Google. If your website doesn’t load, your audience will just close the tab and move on to the next website that offers them similar content.
You don’t want to lose potential readers and customers because of a low-speed website. Do ya? The goal should be instead to capture their interest with your content and turn them into loyal subscribers and customers.
Don’t worry, if you are wondering how to get started with speeding up your website, I have you covered. Today’s article talks all about how to speed-up and optimize your website to load at lightning speed. Let’s get started!
How to speed-up your website?
1. Writing clean code:
Let’s start with the basics. Your website is basically a program that runs on the internet. It is usually built on a software platform like WordPress, Squarespace etc. But the essence of every software / program that runs on the internet is code. So writing clean code is a core essential for any website. Clean code translates to high performance which means a faster website and happy visitors. Clean code not only means code that is formatted and organized well, but also re-usable, efficient code.
Now there are two things you can do here. You can either hire a web developer to develop your website or you can do it yourself. Learning to code isn’t impossible, but it can take time. If you are tech-savvy and would like to experiment with code, I would totally encourage you to do it. But again, if writing code is not your cup of tea – its better to be safe than sorry – so hire a developer to do the work for you while you focus on your business.
Bad code can cost you a ton of money and time in the future. So ensure good coding practices from the very beginning so your website is robust, fast and semantic.
2. Efficient web design:
The design of the website is just as important as the code. Design is more about function than form. Sure, its important to make your website look beautiful and attractive, but if your website doesn’t serve purpose and function – then its practically useless for the growth of your business.
Creating a design that is structurally and functionally sound is key to a high-performance website. For everything that is on your website, there needs to be a logical explanation why and where it is on your website.
The key is to keep it simple. If a page can be designed with just two buttons and a menu, then do not complicate it by adding 4 buttons and 3 sub menus. Keep the essentials and cut out the noise as much as you can. Sure the noise can look pretty, but can pull down the performance of your site.
Again web design is a huge undertaking and if done wrong, it can cost you in the long run. Having unnecessary buttons, forms, links, banners and controls on your site can do more harm than good. So be extremely choosy with what and where you place things on your website.
3. Optimize your images
With visuals being such an important part of content marketing, we all go that extra mile to ensure that we use high quality graphics on our websites. But are we doing it the right way? If not, these visuals might be causing more harm to your website than good. Starting from image size to meta information, there is an array of things you can do to optimize the images on your website and reduce loading time.
Image optimization is a huge topic by itself. Click here to read the complete lowdown on how to optimize images for your website.
4. Use high-quality plug-ins
When it comes to plugins on WordPress, less is more. The WordPress plugin library has about ___ plugins which promise attractive features and fixes for your website. And its all too easy to get tempted and install as many of these, cuz most of these are duh! FREE! But you know what these plugins are costing you? A slow loading website. The more plugins you have on the backend, the more the loading time.
So be really careful and picky about the plugins you have installed. I would suggest doing a plug-in audit for your WordPress site.
How to do a plug-in audit?
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you go through and clean up your plugins:
- First, check with your website developer to see what plug-ins are essential to the theme. Don’t delete any of these essential plug-ins as that might break your code.
- Second, delete duplicate plug-ins. So if you have more than 1 plug-in to do the same task, pick the one that works for you and delete others.
- Don’t keep anything in the inactive category of plugins. If you aren’t using them, delete them.
If you have been using WordPress, I am sure you ‘ve run into the term caching. Caching seems complicated, but actually its really simple to understand and implement. Caching basically allows reusing of previously requested data on the internet to speed up current and future data requests. Let me explain with an example.
Step 1: Lets say you load the home page of a website for the very first time. Normally the page is generated by running a program on the website’s server.
Step 2: After a day, lets say you load the same page again. Now if caching is enabled, instead of re-running the code, the server simply returns the cached/stored version of the page. Until a change is made to the page, the server returns the stored version of the page thereby cutting down the execution time. This makes the page load faster on your browser as the time to run the code is being saved.
How to implement caching?
There are several plugins that help you implement caching for your own site. After trying out quite a few caching plug-ins, I ‘ve found W3 Total Cache to work the best. W3 Total cache plugin optimizes user experience for your site by increasing server performance, effectively caching your pages and decreasing download time. You can download the plugin here for free.
6. Too many ads?
If you are taking the ads route to monetize your blog, then you most likely have ads placed on your website. However you want to make sure that you are using optimal amount of ads that maximize your revenue without taking up too much space and loading time of your website. The problem is ads usually are equipped with Javacript and jQuery scripts that can take a lot of time to load, thereby slowing down the loading time of your website. So make sure to check your ads and evaluate if they are worth keeping on the website.
Often as business owners we are concerned about having an attractive website, but having a high-performing website is just as important. A low performing website can hurt our business in terms of losing visitors, low revenue and stunted growth. So make sure to have a website that powers and supports the growth of your business.