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8 Things That Slow Down Websites

A slow website is frustrating for most Internet users. It’s your responsibility as a website owner to speed up your website’s performance.

What are the steps you can take to speed up your website? According to the Nielsen Norman Group, you only have 10 seconds to convey the value of your website. You have only 10 seconds to convince a potential reader. Every second you spend loading your page is wasted.

Slow website loading is a major reason for traffic to stop. It’s likely that you have heard that 40% of website visitors will abandon a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Mobile users are affected by the same problem. Google research shows that 53 per cent of visitors are likely to abandon pages that take more than 3 seconds to load.

This is more than half your traffic. Over half of those who already visited your site have changed their mind and will leave within a few seconds.

Speed is not a luxury anymore, it’s a necessity. It is important to ask yourself “How can speed up my website?” in order to reduce load time.

We’ll be covering eight factors that can slow down your website’s performance that you might have missed in this article.

Before we start: An analysis tool is required to measure speed and performance. I use Google PageSpeed Insights. Chrome is the web browser that you are using. Available as an extension. The extension will simplify your website’s troubleshooting tasks.

Before you make any changes to your site, evaluate the speed of your site and compare that with later measurements. To determine which method is most effective, test each one.

1. First things first: Web hosting

Fast Website Hosting

Although there are many things you can do to prevent slow websites, the most important thing is choosing which web hosting company to use. Although the options may seem endless, there are only a few large conglomerates that own many web hosts and many aren’t that great, offering more cheap and un-managed offerings that lead to slow and unresponsive sites with many issues down the line, this is why we suggest using managed hosting powered by modern and high-end servers that help to ensure your site is lightning fast and well maintained!

2. Images

image optimization is the most common answer to the question “How can I fix my slow website?” It’s a good thing. Images can be a major problem, and it’s because they aren’t being eliminated as a cause of slow websites.

For images, the rule of thumb is to never use an image larger than it is necessary. This is a simple rule, but it can be difficult to remember, considering the different viewports and screen sizes that your visitors use.

Image size does not refer to pixel dimensions. It also refers to the file size. This is controlled by the image quality.

These are some options:

  • You can create multiple versions (sizes), of each image. These images are combined with code to determine the viewport size and serve appropriately sized images. For example, you don’t send a 3000-pixel image on a handheld device or a 200-pixel image on a Retina display.
  • You can try different formats such as Google’s, or resizable.svg for logos.
  • Lazy loading is a way to prevent the browser from loading images and other elements that aren’t visible. In this example, images in an article that contains images throughout will not load on the first-page load. Lazy loading your website may not be the easiest task, but it can prove to be worthwhile if you have a large website with lots of images. There are many Lazy Loading plugins that you can use if your website is WordPress.

3. Minifying Code

Minifying Code

JavaScript and CSS files are prime candidates to be minified. We humans organize JavaScript and CSS files in a way that makes it easy to see what’s going on.

However, the webserver doesn’t require all this spacing. Minification is a process that takes a human-readable file, strips out linebreaks and whitespaces, and sometimes decreases the file’s size.

Minification has a downside. Once a file is minified, it can be difficult for humans to edit it. All of the helpful lines breaks and white space are gone. Minification is usually handled as part of a larger workflow, or site management system.

You can still use minification sites such as minifier.org if you are a DIY person. Keep a copy of your JavaScript or CSS files that is human-readable and keep them around. Minify them when you make changes. You can also “un-minify” files using tools, but I prefer to keep the original file and to minify it when it changes.

4. Assets and scripts

JavaScript (CSS) and Cascading style sheets (CSS), once rare, exotic tools of the internet, are now common tools for most websites. It would be difficult to create even the most basic website today without JavaScript or CSS. These files are often responsible for slow website loading.

Problem is that JavaScript (and CSS) are “render-blocking resources”, which means HTML parsing will stop while JavaScript or CSS load. When the parser reaches the tag, it stops fetching the script and runs it. Then it continues loading the HTML.

This could lead to performance issues, so it is important to avoid using in-line CSS whenever possible. There are ways to address common slowdowns in JavaScript and CSS.

It is best to load only what a page requires when it comes to.js or.css files. Although it may seem easier to use header and footer files to load every script or asset on your site into every page, this can lead you to create unnecessary overhead and increasing load times.

If scripts are required, you should consider moving the tags to the page footer rather than to the header. It is possible to move all the JavaScript files to the page footer if they are loaded in the correct order.

You can run it with an if you have a.js/.css file that must be in the page header. The Async Or Defer Option work well for this. You can load an asset asynchronously so that the HTML document loads while it is loading. This is preferable to the default render-blocking behaviour.

The Defer option will give you speed gains, but may not be the best depending on what is happening on your page. You can experiment with both to find the one that works best for your needs.

5. Browser Caching

Browser Caching

File caching is a surefire way of reducing website slowdowns. Caching refers to the temporary storage of website files on a visitor’s browser or computer. Local storage allows you to save the same file from your server without having it downloaded each time the page loads. If your site only uses one CSS file, visitors can download it once and then call their local cache to render the page faster.

Use caching to make it easy. ExpiresByType In a.htaccess file is a great way to start caching your site. In the following example, we tell the browser/server that jpg images should be stored in the local cache for one year and CSS, JavaScript, and HTML files for one month.

It is assumed that once you upload an image to your site, it is unlikely you will change it. HTML and CSS files, however, may be updated more often.

This method may seem a bit basic. There are many advanced caching techniques you can use in your .htaccess file but you should not use it if you are just starting with caching, ExpiresByType is a great way to get started.

6. Content Delivery Networks (CDN).

Content Delivery Network

Most websites were hosted on one server for the first decade of the internet’s existence. If you were in California, and the website visitor was in Madagascar (ok, the antipodes maps say almost Madagascar), they would connect to your server. The files would then travel the 11,000 miles to their desktop.

CDNs were created to reduce this distance. A CDN is a worldwide network of servers that delivers content to website visitors depending on their location. In simple terms, you upload a file and the CDN copies it to multiple servers. Then, when a visitor visits your website, the CDN determines the closest server to them and delivers the file(s).

Instead of your friend in Madagascar looking at your site files from California they might load them from Europe, which is less than half the distance. As CDNs expanded and grew, more servers were available to reach larger areas of the population.

A CDN can save you time when it comes to files such as images. Some CDNs can even automatically resize images. They can also assist with other types of asset files, as we mentioned.

You can load minified CSS and JavaScript libraries from a CDN if Bootstrap is used for your website. This is in addition to loading them from your web server. Similar CDNs are available for most popular JavaScript libraries, such as jQuery.

There are many popular CDNs for general websites (Cloudflare, among others). These CDNs promise increased site performance and security. Sometimes your website may be slow due to factors beyond your control. You can use a CDN in these cases to increase response times for a larger portion of the world.

7. WordPress-specific Issues

Wordpress Speed Issues

WordPress is an amazing tool but there are some drawbacks. One of these is bloat, which can lead to slowness. Although the information in this article is applicable to all websites, it’s worth taking a moment to look at some simple ways to increase the performance of WordPress-powered sites.

WordPress has many great features, including the ability to use already installed plugins for many of the same things we have discussed here.

There are many plugins that can be used to cache your data, but we recommend starting with WPSuper Cache. The plugin is made by WordPress developers, so it’s easy to install and configure. You may not need any other caching plugin if you take the time to learn about some of its advanced features.

There are WordPress plugins that can do Lazy Loading and other optimization tasks. The best way to increase WordPress performance and security is not to install another plugin. Instead, remove unused plugins. The plugin organizer will help you determine what plugins you want to get rid of. It makes it simple to temporarily disable plugins, and then test if they are still required.

To determine if a plugin can be safely deleted, you should go back to older posts to ensure they don’t contain elements that depend on plugins.

8. Ads and third-party widgets

Although this may seem obvious, it is easy to forget about third-party scripts or widgets that may be used to advertise your products. These can contribute to slow loading websites.

JavaScript is used to deliver some site widgets. The methods discussed previously may help speed up these deliveries. Some widgets are delivered via other methods, like iframes. These are more difficult to modify.

Advertising can slow down your website, but you depend on it, so there might not be much you can do. You should also check for other types of widgets, such as page elements from Facebook or Google that you have stopped using, or, sometimes, stopped being supported by the third-party site.

Why is my website slow?

Perhaps you will never need to ask the same question again after making some of these changes. Here are some reasons why your website might be slow. We also have some suggestions to help you reduce or fix that slowness. Try a few of these methods and let us know how they work for you.

If you need any help or support on this, then Elixir Digital, one of the leading Essex based Website Design agencies will be more than happy to help, whether that is with offering far improved hosting, fixing technical issues on your site or building a new site that is coded from the ground up to be lightning-fast, responsive and convert, so contact us today!

Remember that your visitors are watching you, so every second count!

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