In today’s world, the internet is the digital space where brands build their online homes.
And speed is everything when it comes to the internet.
Every 1 second delay in page load time will make you lose some potential customers.
Therefore, it is of utmost importance that you speed up your website because a mere second can make or break your business.
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Why Website Speed Is Important
Do you know that 1 second delay in page load time will lead to 7% reduction in conversions?
In fact, 47% of customers expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less. Likewise, 64% of smartphone users expect pages to load in less than 4 seconds.
Just look at how speed affects your website in the infographic below!
Now that we know why website speed is important to your business, let’s move on to how we can speed up our website~
Figure Out Your Website Speed
Before you can even optimize your website speed, you should first figure out what your current website speed is.
There are numerous tools that analyze website speed and suggest areas where you can improve on.
- Google PageSpeed Insights: analyze both desktop & mobile
- Pingdom Website Speed Test: analyze across countries
If you installed Google Analytics on your website, you can check out the Site Speed report under Behavior.
Overview lists down the average page load time for the various browsers, countries and pages. This report is useful in letting you know if there’s a speed problem.
For instance, the page load time for the various browsers should be similar. If a certain browser is taking very long to load, your website might have some incompatible media.
Note that some countries’ page load time will be longer than others because your data center is located far away from them. Hence, do take the location of your data center into consideration when comparing speed across various countries.
You can view the Page Timings report and add secondary dimension like device category.
Speed Suggestions also offer optimization recommendations to make your page load faster.
1. Enable Caching
To activate SuperCacher, go to your cPanel and click on SuperCacher under the Site Improvement Tools section. You can then choose from 3 caching options.
- Dynamic Cache: Effective solution for dynamic websites powered by WordPress, Joomla & Drupal
- Memcached: Used by database-powered sites like Wikipedia, Facebook & YouTube
I highly recommend that you turn on SuperCacher to optimize your website speed.
If your web hosting doesn’t have such caching tools, you can always download a caching plugin.
2. Use The Latest PHP
PHP is a programming language designed for web development.
I highly recommend that you constantly update your website’s PHP version to the latest version. This will help make your site load faster.
Just look at this chart that compares the latest PHP version against its older versions. PHP 7 executes twice as many requests per second at almost half of the latency.
As a result, WordPress websites prefer PHP 7 as code execution is now faster and they can run with lesser CPU resources.
If you use SiteGround, you can easily update your WordPress website to always run the latest PHP version. This can be done via the PHP Version Manager in the cPanel.
To change the PHP for your entire website, you can choose the public_html directory. Also, you can select the Managed PHP Version option so your site runs on the recommended PHP version. This will ensure that you’re always running the latest, secure and stable PHP version whenever it’s available.
3. Use A Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Content Delivery Network, abbreviated as CDN, makes your site load faster in any part of the world. CDN caches a site’s content and distributes it over multiple data centers. Thus, when foreign visitors access your website, CDN delivers the content much faster from the data center closest to them.
One notable CDN provider is Cloudflare. Cloudflare CDN has a network of 100+ servers worldwide. In addition, it protects your site by identifying and blocking malicious traffic as well as protecting your site from spammers, excessive bot crawling and DDoS attacks. Check out the other benefits you get when implementing Cloudflare CDN!
4. Minify & Combine Files
Minification refers to the process of removing unnecessary or redundant data without affecting how the resource is processed by the browser. It’s similar to how you remove unnecessary characters in a piece of code.
Simply put, minifying and combining files will decrease loading times because they help to cut out extraneous information.
5. Reduce The Number Of Plugins
Having too many plugins can lead to security breaches on your site, site crashes, bad performance, slow loading speed and more.
Thus, reduce this risk by installing fewer plugins. You also shouldn’t install plugins that haven’t been updated for a long time. You don’t want your site to be compromised due to non-secure plugins.
Only install plugins that you really need, plugins that are indispensable such as
- Caching Plugin: SiteGround’s SG Optimizer where you can turn on https and SuperCacher in one simple click
- Security Plugin: Wordfence that includes firewall, malware scanner, login security measures etc.
- Backup Plugin: UpdraftPlus which backs up your site (manual & scheduled backups)
6. Optimize Images
Images are a key component of every website. In fact, images make up for more than 60% of data loaded on web pages. This is the reason why image-heavy websites take longer to load.
Therefore, your goal is to optimize images on your website: load lighter, load fewer and load faster.
6a. Upload Fewer Images
You should only upload images when necessary or if they add value.
For instance, a product page will definitely need a photo of your product. A blog article, on the other hand, doesn’t need to be filled with numerous images. It just need enough images to hold readers’ attention, break up text and add credibility.
6b. Upload Images Of The Right Size
Unless you own a photography website, there is no need to upload images of large sizes.
You should use images of the right size: images that fit your website’s dimensions. They shouldn’t be too small that you have to squint your eyes. Neither should they be too big that you have to scroll forever to see the big picture.
As you know, I sometimes upload stock photos for my blog articles. When downloading these stock photos, I usually choose the small size because they fit within the width of the blog post. If the images are bigger, WordPress will automatically resize them to fit within the width.
However, for a website banner, it’s better if you upload a large image to ensure that the banner will stretch across the page.
6c. Compress Images
Compressing your images, which decreases the file size, is another way to speed up your site’s loading time.
You could install an image optimizer WordPress plugin like ShortPixel. ShortPixel optimizes all file formats, including JPG/JPEG, PNG, GIF and PDF. The plugin also offers 3 compression methods: lossy, glossy and lossless. Batch automation takes mere seconds as ShortPixel automatically compresses all your old and new images quickly.
Check out my in-depth review of ShortPixel where I list down all the pros and cons~
Bonus Tip: Keep It Short & Simple (KISS)
I’m sure that you’ve heard of the KISS principle. As the acronym implies, simplicity should be the key goal in design.
Just look at my website. There’s a clear single-line navigation bar at the top (it’s not nested with drop-down options). My product pages showcase my books, synopsis and a link to Amazon where readers can buy them. My blog, on the other hand, has a sidebar with links to my recent posts and blog categories.
I designed my website with one question in mind: Who am I designing this for?
Which explains why my product pages are designed for my book readers while my blog is designed for my blog readers. The design is catered to specific audience with their needs in mind.
Likewise, you need to take into account your target audience. What are their needs? What do they want to see or do on your website?
Your website design should be simple enough that your target audience can easily get the information they need. Your web design should also encourage them to take the action that is valuable to you.
Don’t chase the trends and upload a video or add an animated banner to your site because everyone did. Ask yourself: Is there any value for your target audience if you include this video or animated banner on your website?
You can also apply this KISS principle to everything you do for your website. For instance, there is no need to complicate matters by installing another code integration WordPress plugin if you already own Elegant Themes Divi. You can insert codes directly in the Divi Theme Options under the Integration tab.
By bearing this KISS principle in mind, it will prevent you from adding any unnecessary images, videos and plugins that might strain your website and negatively affect the loading speed.
Now It’s Your Turn
Optimizing website speed is a challenge, especially for tech noobs like me.
But no matter how difficult this is, I strongly encourage you to implement the abovementioned tactics. They’re simple solutions (some of them only require a few clicks!).
Even if you reduce the page load time by 1 second, it will result in a significant positive impact on your site performance.
Do share about other tactics that you have implemented to speed up your site~