Improving the speed of your website

9 Simple Ways To Improve The Speed Of Your Website For Faster Loading Times

Improving the speed of your website

Improve the speed of your website

The performance and usability of websites, in general, have become increasingly more important over the past years. Visitors will not tolerate slow loading websites these days, neither will (perhaps our biggest friend) Google. Luckily for us, Google created a tool which focusses solely on improving the performance and usability of your website, called Pagespeed Insights. Running Pagespeed Insights on your website results in a list of possible improvements, which often can be easily implemented. Want to improve the speed of your website? Take a look at the most common improvements as well as an explanation listed below:

1. Optimize the file size of your images

One of the most common causes of a slow website I've personally encountered is the loading of images with big file sizes. People easily neglect the fact that every single visitor of your website will have to download the content of a webpage. This mostly isn't an issue for desktop visitors, but your mobile visitors (which probably contains more than 50% of your total traffic) won't appreciate big file sizes. The file size of an image can be reduced by scaling the image, compressing the image or lowering the quality of the image. Compressor.io offers a simple image compression tool free for you to use, make sure to check it out here.

Useful tip: If you are using a gradient or color overlay over an image, you can easily use a low-quality version of the image without anyone noticing. The gradient or color-overlay will cover up the lack of quality, while improving the speed of your website.

2. Optimize the scaling of your images

Scaling images can take some time while loading a website while scaling images is essentially unnecessary. Just keep one thing in mind while saving your images for use on your website; what pixel dimensions will this image actually contain? For example, if you want to upload your 2500 x 2500 px business logo to your website, and you know the actual pixel dimensions on your website will be only 150 x 150 px, change the image size to 150 x 150 px before uploading the image to your website.

3. Compress HTML, CSS and JavaScript files

If you are using a Content Management System like WordPress or Drupal, the amount of external HTML, CSS and JavaScript files easily gets kind of large. Try to minimize the impact of file sizes of scripts which are necessary while running your website by compressing scripts. In the case of WordPress websites, this can easily be done by installing the WP Fastest Cache or Autoptimize plug-in.

4. Combine CSS and JavaScript files

Next to the compression of HTML, CSS and JavaScript files, CSS and JavaScript files can be combined into a lesser amount of files in order to decrease loading times. Combining CSS and JavaScript files can easily be done by installing either the WP Fastest Cache or Autoptimize plug-in, links can be found in the paragraph above.

5. Make use of browser caching

Do you get a lot of returning visitors? If so, browser caching might be a great way to reduce loading times. Enabling caching is a quick way to improve the speed of your website. Browser caching prevents returning users from having to download the content on your webpage again, within a certain timeframe. Both WP Fastest Cache and Autoptimize offer caching solutions. I personally recommend you to use WP Fastest Cache as it's the most simple and one of the most effective methods of enabling caching on your WordPress website.

6. Enable Gzip compression

A lot of web hosting providers offer server-side Gzip compression. This compression decreases the file sizes of all scripts on your website, making it load even faster. Not sure if your web hosting provider offers Gzip compression? Try contacting the support team of your web hosting provider, they will likely be glad to enable Gzip compression if possible.

7. Defer parsing of JavaScript

WordPress, Drupal or websites created by similar content management systems, often load a lot of unnecessary scripts. You can easily improve your loading times by deferring unnecessary scripts by using theĀ  Async JavaScript plug-in. Be careful though, you probably won't want to defer the jquery.js or similar scripts as this could potentially break your website. Always make sure to create a back-up before optimizing elements of your website, it could save you from an enormous headache.

8. Removing unnecessary plug-ins and themes

A lot of WordPress installations contain unnecessary themes and plug-ins. You can easily decrease the file size of your entire website by deleting unused themes and plug-ins. Try to delete unused plug-ins instead of deactivating them, as deactivated plug-ins often still make use of various scripts while loading your website. Instead of using plug-ins for simple elements like page headers, try using HTML and CSS to get the same result for much better performance.

9. Running an international website? Consider making use of a CDN

Are your running an international website? Try improving loading times by implementing a CDN (Content Delivery Network). CDN's like CloudFlare will decrease loading times globally.

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