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
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.