The role of user experience in growing an online business cannot be underestimated. A smooth, fast, and responsive website is essential to providing a positive user experience, leading to increased conversions and higher customer satisfaction rates.
This blog post will provide 15 tips on improving website performance and speed so that users can have the best experience possible when interacting with your site.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your site runs as efficiently as possible, helping you grow your business online.
What is Website Performance?
Website performance is the speed and responsiveness of a website. It is important for both users and search engines.
A fast website will improve the user experience, increase conversions, and rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). Many factors affect website performance, including server response time, page size, image optimization, and caching.
Luckily, you can do a few key things to improve your website’s performance. And we are going to talk about them in this guide.
Why Website Performance Matters
Website performance matters to your business for three primary reasons:
a. Website speed is a ranking factor
One of the factors that Google and other search engines use to rank websites is page load speed.
In general, fast websites will receive higher rankings than slow sites. This is because faster loading websites provide a better user experience, and search engines want to direct users to websites that will give them a good experience.
So, if you want your website to rank well in search engine results pages, it’s important to ensure that it loads quickly.
b. Website speed impacts user experience
Visitors to your website will likely have a better experience if your website loads quickly. A slow website can frustrate users and make them bounce from your site.
c. Performance impacts conversion rates
Your website’s performance plays a big role in your conversion rates – that is, the percentage of visitors who take the desired action on your site, such as making a purchase.
If your site is slow or difficult to use, potential customers will likely give up and go elsewhere.
On the other hand, a fast and user-friendly website can help you convert more visitors into customers.
d. Brand perception
Your website’s performance is directly related to your brand’s perception. If your website is slow or difficult to use, potential customers will likely perceive your brand as being similarly unresponsive or unprofessional.
On the other hand, if your website is fast and easy to use, customers will likely perceive your brand as efficient and trustworthy.
Imagine you own an online store that sells shoes. If your website is slow and difficult to navigate, potential customers may get frustrated and decide to buy shoes from a competitor with a faster, more user-friendly website.
Or, if your website frequently crashes or is unavailable, potential customers may conclude that your business is unreliable and not worth their time or money. In either case, poor website performance can damage your brand’s reputation and cost you potential sales.
e. Visitor retention
In addition to affecting your brand perception, website performance also affects visitor retention. If your website is slow or difficult to use, visitors are likely to leave your site and may not come back.
On the flip side, if your website is fast and easy to use, visitors are more likely to stay on your site and come back in the future.
Ways To Improve Website Performance
#1. Use A Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A content delivery network (CDN) is a system of computers that delivers web content to users based on their geographic location.
The idea behind a CDN is to shorten the distance between the user and the server, which can speed up the delivery of your website’s content.
How does a CDN work? A CDN stores copies of your website’s content on servers worldwide.
When users visit your website, the CDN directs them to the server closest to their location. This reduces latency (the time it takes for data to travel between the user and the server), improving website performance.
In addition to reducing latency, using a CDN can also improve website security and reduce bandwidth costs.
#2. Optimize Your Images To Load Quickly
Images are an important part of any website but can also significantly contribute to slow loading times.
There are a few things you can do to optimize your images and help speed up your website’s performance:
- Optimize your image file sizes. Large image files can take longer to load, so it’s important to ensure your images are as small as possible without sacrificing quality. Many tools can help you optimize your images for the web.
- Use proper file formats. JPEG is generally best for photos, while PNG is better for images with fewer colors, like logos or illustrations.
- Use a content delivery network (CDN). A CDN can help deliver your images faster by hosting them on multiple servers worldwide.
- Use responsive images. Responsive images automatically adjust to the size of the device or screen they’re being viewed on, so they load quickly and efficiently.
If you are using WordPress, there are several plugins that can help optimize your images for performance, like WP Smush or EWWW Image Optimizer.
#3. Minimize HTTP Requests
One way to improve website performance is to minimize HTTP requests.
HTTP requests are the foundation of how the internet works. When you type in a website’s URL and hit enter, your computer sends an HTTP request to the server that houses that website.
The server then sends back an HTTP response, which is typically the website’s HTML code. Your browser then renders that HTML code and displays the website.
One way to improve website performance is to minimize the number of HTTP requests that are made.
This can be done using techniques such as file concatenation, CSS sprites, and image maps.
File concatenation is the process of combining multiple files into one. This reduces the number of HTTP requests that need to be made and can improve performance.
CSS sprites are images that contain multiple images within them. Using a CSS sprite, you can reduce the number of HTTP requests needed when loading a page.
Image maps are another way to reduce the number of HTTP requests that need to be made.
An image map is an image that contains links to other parts of the website. By using an image map, you can avoid making unnecessary HTTP requests.
#4. Put Stylesheets At The Top And Scripts At The Bottom
Regarding website performance, one of the key things to keep in mind is the order in which your HTML elements load. Specifically, you want to ensure that your stylesheets are loaded first, and your scripts are loaded last.
There are a few reasons for this.
First, loading your stylesheets ensures that your pages will render correctly from the beginning. If your scripts were loaded first, they would execute before the stylesheets were even loaded, resulting in broken and unfinished pages.
Second, loading your scripts last means they won’t interfere with the rest of the page-loading process. If scripts were loaded first, they might block other elements from loading or cause other issues.
By loading them last, you can be sure that everything else on the page will have already finished loading before they even start executing.
#5. Implement Gzip Compression
Gzip compression compresses files (making them smaller) for faster network transfers. It is commonly used on the World Wide Web and enables web servers to send pages to users more quickly.
This technique can help improve site performance in two ways: first, by reducing the size of files that need to be transferred, and second, by compressing multiple files into a single file (known as bundling).
By doing this, gzip reduces the time it takes to transfer files from the server to the user’s browser. This can lead to faster page loading and a better overall user experience.
#6. Reduce the Number of Plugins
Too many plugins can slow down a website. That’s because each plugin has to be loaded into memory and run by the server every time a page is loaded. This can take up a lot of resources, especially if the plugins are poorly coded.
Reducing the number of plugins is one of the best ways to improve website performance. Every plugin you remove will make your site faster.
So, if you don’t need a plugin, get rid of it!
#7. Use Website Caching.
Website caching is a process of storing website data in temporary storage so that it can be accessed more quickly the next time a user visits the site. This can help improve site performance by reducing the time required to load pages.
Two types of caching that can be used to improve website performance: browser caching and server-side caching.
Browser caching stores website data in the user’s web browser, while server-side caching stores data on the web server itself.
Both types of caching can help reduce the time required to load pages, but server-side caching is generally more effective at improving site performance.
For a WordPress website, plugins like W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache can be used to implement caching.
#8. Minimize The Use Of Iframes
An iframe is an HTML element that allows you to embed another HTML document inside the current document. Iframes are often used to embed videos, maps, and advertisements on websites.
While they can be useful, they can also negatively impact website performance. Here are some ways to minimize the use of iframes on your website:
- Use iframes sparingly. Only use iframes when absolutely necessary.
- Avoid using too many iframes on a single page.
- Reduce the size of iframes. The smaller the iframe, the faster it will load.
- Load iframes asynchronously.
- Defer the loading of iframes.
- Place iframes at the bottom of the page.
#9. Avoid Redirects
Redirects are often implemented to improve website performance by sending users to the most relevant page.
However, too many redirects can have a negative impact on website performance. Redirect chains, for example, can cause delays in page loading time.
In addition, each redirect adds an extra HTTP request-response cycle, which can also slow down page loading.
To avoid these problems, it is best to keep redirects to a minimum.
#10. Configure ETags
ETags are a way to determine whether or not a cached version of a file is the most recent version.
When a browser requests a file from a server, it checks to see if there is an Etag for that file. If there is, the browser compares the Etag to the cached file version.
If the Etag matches, that means the cached copy is up to date and can be used. If not, the browser will request a new file copy from the server.
Configuring ETags properly can help improve website performance because it allows browsers to quickly determine whether they have the most recent file version without requesting a new copy from the server.
When configuring ETags, setting them is important, so they are only valid for a certain time.
This ensures that browsers will eventually request a new copy if a file is updated on the server rather than using a stale cached copy.
#11. Choose the Right Hosting Service Plan
Your hosting plan can have a big impact on your website’s performance. If you’re on a shared hosting plan, your site will share resources with other websites on the same server. This can lead to slow load times and downtime if another site on the server is experiencing high traffic.
A shared hosting plan may be sufficient if you’re running a small website with low traffic.
However, if you expect high traffic or need more control over your server resources, you should consider a VPS or dedicated server. These plans provide more resources and allow you to customize your server environment to optimize your website’s performance.
#12. Use a Web Application Firewall (WAF)
A web application firewall (WAF) is a type of firewall that filters, monitors, and blocks HTTP traffic to and from a web application. It can protect against common web-based attacks, such as cross-site scripting (XSS) and SQL injection.
A WAF is deployed between a web application and the client requesting resources from the application. It sits in front of the web application and filters traffic based on a set of rules that are designed to block malicious requests.
One of the best WAFs on the market is Cloudflare’s free offering. It’s very easy to set up and has many features, including a web application firewall.
When it comes to website performance, there are a lot of factors to consider. You must ensure your site is fast, responsive, and easy to use. Here are some ways you can improve your website’s performance:
1. Use a content delivery network (CDN). A CDN can help deliver your content faster and improve your website’s overall performance.
2. Optimize your images. Large images can slow down your website, so be sure to optimize them for the web.
3. Minimize HTTP requests. Every time a user visits your website, their browser has to send an HTTP request to the server. By minimizing these requests, you can speed up your site.
4. Use caching. Caching can help reduce the load on your server and improve website performance.
5. Minimize redirects. Redirects can cause delays and increase page load times. Try to avoid them whenever possible.
7. Use a faster web host. Your web host can have a big impact on your website’s speed. Choose a host that can give you the speed you need.
8. Optimize your database. If your website uses a database, be sure to optimize it for performance.
9. Use a content management system (CMS). A CMS can help you manage your content more efficiently and improve your website’s performance.
10. Use a static website generator. Static website generators can help you create a fast, lightweight website.
11. Use a performance monitoring tool. Performance monitoring tools can help you identify bottlenecks and improve website performance.
12. Use a web server that supports HTTP/2. HTTP/2 is a newer, faster version of the HTTP protocol that can improve website performance.