5 Easy Ways for a Quicker Website

There are countless good reasons to ensure that your website performs as quickly as possible, from enhancing the user experience to optimizing its rankings in search engines.

As with many things in web development, it’s easy to get bogged down with increasingly complicated processes when trying to achieve this goal, but there are several easily implemented tactics you can use to get started along the road – and it’s often these low hanging fruit that give the best returns for the effort involved. Here are 5 simple ways to enjoy the benefits of a snappier, faster-rendering site.

1. Reduce Off-Server Requests

The responsiveness of your website can be improved by cutting down on the resources which need to be fetched from an external server. Although some off-site requests are inevitable – Google Analytics springs to mind – trying to bring everything on to your own server will reduce the need for DNS look-ups and decrease extra routing issues. Don’t hotlink to external images or call third party scripts whenever you can avoid it, as each external request can slow your site considerably.

2. Reduce Feature Bloat

Does your site absolutely need all those plugins you’ve installed? Can it function perfectly well without all those social media buttons, each one calling home to the mother ship on every page load? Try stripping back your site features to the essentials to see what kind of performance increase this brings, then add all those cool but non-essential features back one at a time, keeping a close eye on your page load speed figures while you do so.

3. Enable GZIP Compression

All modern browsers support the decompression and rendering of GZIP-compressed data, and all decent servers support sending the data this way. Is your site using it to improve speed?

4. Reduce Your Requests Count

Every image, every piece of external CSS or JavaScript, and every call to a tracking link results in an extra request being sent from the browser to the server, and the time taken to establish the HTTP links for each request soon adds up. Although it’s good practice to separate site-wide elements such as stylesheets into external files so that they can be cached, try and combine any multiple small CSS files into one larger one to reduce the requests needing to be made. Likewise, if you have a sliced-and-diced image consisting of many small files, consider combining them into one larger image served via a single request – your page speed will thank you for it.

5. Reduce Code Bloat

Although modern WYSIWYG web design packages have improved greatly in this regard, many still produce large amounts of surplus code that could be removed from your page without changing its function or rendering. While a few extra bytes here and there may seem fairly insignificant when it comes to your site’s speed, when you have dozens or hundreds of concurrent visitors the cumulative effect can be significant for your server performance, slowing things down for everyone. Get into the habit of manually checking your source files for unnecessary code bloat, and strip it out whenever possible.

Website speed optimization is an ongoing process which can quickly get highly technical, but there’s no doubt that using these ideas can be a quick springboard towards a faster site, with all the benefits that involves.