First Past the Post: How to Make your Website Fast on its Feet

Website expert Jack Bedell-Pearce discusses how to make your business website faster

First Past the Post: How to Make your Website Fast on its Feet

When shopping, research has shown that people expect a web page to display in no more than two seconds, and 40% of online shoppers will abandon your site if it takes longer than three seconds. Moreover, Google will penalise your ranking if any page takes longer than 1.5 seconds to load. The result of such poor performance is likely to have a dramatic effect on your bottom line. So how do you make a website fast and dynamic?

The best and quickest way is by reducing the number of HTTP requests.

Each unique object in a web page will require a round trip to the server (an HTTP request and a reply). Minimising the number of objects in the web pages cuts the HTTP requests required to render your page. With fewer requests, the server can turn them around faster, and visitors in turn will enjoy a quicker browsing experience, so they are more likely to buy.

Try these tips to decrease HTTP requests:

Review images

  • Reduce the number of background files by combining them into a single image
  • Reduce the quality of your images. Websites do not need high resolution photos so reduce the resolution to about 65% of the original.

Control the cache

Caching is the process of storing your web assets (images or elements of the web page) along the way to your visitor’s browser.

  • Caching elements of your website which will not change regularly is a great way of speeding up your loading times as the browsers do not have to request that information every time a user visits your page
  • Typical assets that can/should be cached:
    • Company logo
    • Favicon
    • Core CSS files

Use Gzip

Gzip is a compression method which compresses a web page and style sheet before sending them to the browser in an HTTP request and thus reduces transfer time.

Reposition style sheets

A style sheet is a file that holds information about your web pages. It will define the layout such as the page size, margins, and fonts.

  • Put them at the top of the page and the content will render progressively (i.e. display as soon as possible) which will reassure people that something is happening. ()
  • Use less style sheets, keep them simple and your webpages will load quicker.

Redirect links manually

Sites with too many redirect links will have slower loading speeds. You need to redirect a page for these reasons:

  • When you move content from one domain to another and want to redirect visitors from the old to the new site
  • Where you have multiple domains directed to a single website
  • To direct a website without the www to the proper site.

It may seem like it is detrimental to the user experience, but building manual redirect links is best. It means that for a short time the old page/ domain will continue to gain traffic, but by getting visitors to click on links, search engines will start to index the new pages instead.

Taking these steps to improve the load speed of the website will improve SEO and browser conversion. This is only one of many tactics to make your site convert sales and jump up the Google rankings.

Jack Bedell-Pearce is the Managing Director of 4D Hosting.

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