7 Ways to speed up your website

7 Ways to speed up your website

Posted by David Law in Webhosting tips on April 1, 2013 with No Comments

As average internet connection speeds increase around the world, web users are becoming less and less tolerant of slow load times. At the same time, Google has stated unequivocally that it prefers to reward fast sites with higher positions in the natural search results.
To take advantage of these dual benefits, you need to make site speed a priority on your site. Any of the following seven tips will help you to get started on this important path:

speed up your website

Tip #1 Size images before uploading them

If you use a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Joomla, you’ve probably noticed that you can upload images at full size and then adjust their display size within your website’s backend. However, doing so forces web browsers to execute multiple commands – pulling up the initial images and then re-sizing them on-the-fly – which can slow down your site.

To prevent this from occurring, use an image editing program to adjust images to the correct size before adding them to your site.

Tip #2 Eliminate unnecessary plugins

The huge number of plugins and scripts that are freely available today makes it tempting for webmasters to add more than they truly need. Keep in mind, though, that every plugin you add requires resources to run – and more resources mean a slower site.

Before adding any new plugins to your site, ask yourself if the functionality you gain is worth the trade-off in site speed, or whether the plugin’s content could be coded into your site’s theme instead.

Tip #3 Make sure your sites scripts are up-to-date

Depending on the CMS or ecommerce platform your site uses, you may need to check back regularly to determine whether new releases of your site’s scripts are available.  If they are, upgrade your site as soon as possible (making sure that you have a current backup file in place first).  Site script developers are always working on improving their code for future releases, particularly when it comes to site speed.  Updating your scripts to the latest versions could go a long way towards eliminating coded roadblocks that prevent your site from loading quickly.

Tip #4 Make use of CDNs

Content delivery networks – or, CDNs – are vast networks of servers that are housed around the world. When you store website content like images using these services, rather than storing them locally on your hosting account, you enable the CDN to serve up your information from the server that’s closest to your website visitor. The result? Faster load times that will make your customers and the search engines happy.
To get started, look into the CDN services offered by MaxCDN or Amazon CloudFront.

content delivery network

Tip #5 Enable browser caching

Browser caching is a technology that allows a website visitor’s browser to store copies of your site’s individual pages so that, if the visitor returns in the future, the content can be called up from within the cache – rather than reloading the entire page. This saves on the number of resources used to display your pages, resulting in faster overall load times.

The easiest way to enable browser caching is with a plugin, like the WordPress W3 Total Cache tool. Alternatively, talk to your web developer about ways to integrate browser caching into your site’s code.

Tip #6 Turn on Gzip compression

Gzip compression is a technology that minimizes the size of browser-based HTTP responses – sometimes by as much as 70%. If that doesn’t make sense, don’t worry. Long story short, using Gzip compression can speed up your site’s load times significantly.
There are three ways to turn on Gzip compression on your site. You can:

  1. Add the following code to your site’s .htaccess file:

    # compress text, html, javascript, css, xml:
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript
    # Or, compress certain file types by extension:
    <files *.html>
    SetOutputFilter DEFLATE
  2. Add the following code to the top of your HTML or PHP page:
    <?php if (substr_count($_SERVER['HTTP_ACCEPT_ENCODING'], ‘gzip’)) ob_start(“ob_gzhandler”); else ob_start(); ?>
  3. Install a Gzip compression plugin like the WP HTTP Compression tool for WordPress (just keep in mind what we said earlier about installing too many unnecessary plugins!).

Tip #7 Keep CSS files at the top of your page and javascript code at the bottom

Finally, keep your site’s code neat and tidy by adding CSS files to the top of your page’s code and Javascript snippets to the bottom when working with raw HTML pages. Adding your CSS files to the top of the page prohibits progressive rendering, saving resources that web browsers would otherwise use to load and redraw elements of your pages. Adding Javascript to the bottom prevents your pages from waiting on full code execution before loading – leading to a faster browsing experience for your visitors.

Although these are only a few of the different techniques that can be used to speed up your site, they’re some of the easiest to implement. Start with this list if you notice your site slowing down, but don’t hesitate to contact a developer for more technical solutions if these steps alone don’t solve your site speed problems.

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