Everyone hates waiting for web pages to load. Whether we are searching for a new product to buy or simply checking to see what movies are at the local theater, no one wants to wait while a site’s pages struggle to load. Excessive wait times will often cause us to abandon the current page and search elsewhere. This can be disastrous for the slow website, as traffic and potential customers will be driven away.
If you happen to be the website owner, this is the last thing you want to see. You want to present your site to visitors in the best possible light, and slow load times are a sure detriment to the user experience. No matter how great your site is, the number of visitors will be greatly reduced if they need to wait for extended periods while your pages load. According to the Kissmetrics website, 40% of users will leave a site that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
There are a number of steps that you can take to improve the speed at which your web pages load. Here are 5 tips that might be of use if you need to ramp up your site’s load time.
PHP is used by a wide majority of sites that employ a server-side programming language. Running an older version of PHP can have a detrimental impact on the speed at which your pages load. Those sites currently using PH 5.0 can gain as much as 20% faster code execution by upgrading to PHP 5.5. This translates to faster load times.
Upgrading even further can achieve even greater benefits. Up to a 200% increase in PHP code execution time can be realized by upgrading from PHP 5.6 to PHP 7.0 You do need to verify that all of your plugins and other website features are compatible with PHP 7.0, but if they are, you should look to upgrade as soon as possible to stop those page loads from lagging.
The execution of additional code and the remote loading of the plugin can substantially slow down your website. Though there are definitely advantages to using plugins, they need to be treated carefully. In particular, if you are displaying a photo gallery, take some time to find the best WordPress gallery plugins available. They just might make the difference in your page loading in time for your impatient visitors.
One way to reduce load time is to reduce the distance from your web-server to your potential visitors. A content delivery network is a collection of web servers that are distributed across various locations. They are often an excellent option for static files that do not need to be modified once they are uploaded.
The server chosen to provide files to the visitor is determined based on network proximity. Different factors can come into play here, as the content may be delivered by the server with the fastest response time, or the one that would require the fewest network hops to fulfill the request. Using a CDN can have a dramatic effect on your load times and help you attract visitors to your website from around the globe.
Your CSS file is loaded before your page becomes viewable. If you have been using the same CSS file for a while, there is a good chance that it has some unused or extra code. Every space, character, and line adds to the website’s page load time. Over time, there are likely to be many places in the code where extra characters or spaces have been inserted, slowing down your web pages.
You can go about this process manually, which is simple but time-consuming. There are also tools such as JC Minifier and CSS Minifier that are available to help you determine what can safely be removed from your code. You can also minify your HTML code, adding further enhancements to the speed of your page loads.
Images make up a large part of most websites. According to impactbnd.com, images take up to 60% of the average number of bytes loaded on a web page. They suggest that images should be kept to under 150KB and less than 1920px in width. Using larger files will substantially slow down your page loads. Large images should be run through an optimizer such as Image Optimizer or compressor.io.
Choosing the right file type can also help when using images on your web pages. JPG and GIF files are small and will load more quickly than the larger and more detailed TIF files. Based on the quality of the image desired, a wise choice of formats can help you speed up the user experience on your site.
These are just a few of the ways you can increase your page load speed and attract more visitors to your site. The ability to navigate your site in a timely manner may make the difference between a successful venture and one that fails miserably. So take these tips under advisement and speed it up!
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