Website speed optimisation strategies

What is website speed optimisation?

Website speed optimisation is all about making your website lightning-fast through various strategies and best practices.

But here’s the kicker: It’s not just about speed. Faster load times also mean happier users, better conversion rates, and fewer people bouncing off your site in frustration.

And the proof is in the pudding: Studies show that website speed is tied to some pretty important metrics. Studies found that a B2B site loading in just 1 second boasts a conversion rate three times higher than one taking 5 seconds to load! Each additional second of load time steepens that difference in conversion rates.

Here’s the data laid out for you: When your pages load within 1 second, you’re looking at an average conversion rate of 39%. Not bad, right? But if that load time stretches to 2 seconds, your conversion rate drops to 34%. And if it drags on to 5 seconds? Well, now you’re staring at a conversion rate as low as 22%.

After that, it’s a downward spiral. You can expect roughly half the conversion rate of those lightning-fast websites if you let those load times linger. So, the takeaway? Speed matters. A lot.

How to optimise Your website speed

Your website’s speed is influenced by various factors, including your hosting provider, images, JavaScript and CSS files, and web fonts. To achieve peak speed, optimising these elements is key. Below are steps you can take to optimise each factor. While not exhaustive, this list will lay the foundation for a comprehensive optimisation strategy.

1. Audit your website

Before making any changes that impact how your site loads and handles content, it’s worth auditing its current performance.

2. Prioritise potential fixes

When tackling website speed issues, the temptation is to address everything simultaneously. However, even with unlimited resources and time, this approach isn’t advisable.

Instead, prioritize fixes based on what matters most to your visitors. For instance, if your site’s initial loading time is significant, focus on server-side concerns like hosting provider issues or DNS problems. This takes precedence over content delivery speed, as visitors won’t stick around to view your content if the page itself takes too long to load.

3. Evaluate Your Current Hosting Provider

Your hosting provider can indeed be a major factor contributing to speed problems. While various elements like geographical location, infrastructure, and bandwidth play a role, the type of web hosting you use also affects performance.

Let’s break down the three common types:

  • Shared Hosting:

    This option is the most budget-friendly but comes with a downside. Resources are divided among multiple sites, which can lower overall performance. This becomes problematic if your site experiences spikes in traffic or consistently high volumes.

  • VPS (Virtual Private Server):

    VPS options segment services on a shared physical drive to enhance performance. However, they may still encounter speed issues under heavy resource loads.

  • Dedicated Hosting:

    While more expensive, dedicated servers offer a significant speed boost regardless of resource demands, making them a top choice for performance-centric needs.

4. Consider a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

When all the data necessary to fully load your site is stored in a single location, both the initial load time and subsequent loading experiences can take a hit.

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) offer a solution to this problem. By utilising multiple servers to store replicas of your content across various locations, CDNs optimise content delivery. When users access your site, the CDN selects the server closest to their physical location, ensuring faster and more efficient content delivery.

5. Optimise your images

Images play a crucial role in enhancing the appeal and recall value of your website. However, they can also be a culprit for sluggish loading times, particularly when they’re high-resolution.

To counter this, consider compressing your images before integrating them into your site. Many photo-editing programs now offer “save for web” options specifically designed to optimise images for web use. Additionally, several free online tools are available for compressing common file types such as JPG, PNG, and TIFF. TinyPNG is just one example of such tools. WebP lossless images are 26% smaller in size compared to PNGs.

6. Reduce redirects

Redirects serve as a useful tool for directing users from one page to another, often facilitating connections between high-ranking, high-traffic pages and newer content. However, it’s essential to recognise that excessive redirects can strain server resources, potentially leading to increased loading times.

While utilising redirects initially to maintain steady content views is beneficial, it’s advisable to replace outdated redirects with new content as soon as possible. This proactive approach helps to minimise load times and optimise user experience.

7. Limit HTTP requests

Each HTTP request, whether it’s for images, stylesheets, scripts, or fonts, contributes to your site’s overall load time. As your site expands, these requests accumulate, leading to a noticeable delay in page loading after user click-throughs.

The silver lining? Many of the strategies outlined in this guide, such as leveraging a CDN and minifying CSS and JS files, can effectively reduce the number of HTTP requests your site generates. By implementing these tactics, you can streamline your site’s performance and enhance user experience.

8. Compress everything

Maximising file size reduction without sacrificing quality is key to optimising website performance. While Gzip stands out as a robust and dependable compression framework, other methods can also achieve decreased file sizes without compromising user experience.

9. Capitalise on caching

Caching allows browsers to pre-load some of your content to speed up webpage delivery.

Many content management systems (CMS) will automatically cache the most current versions of your site, but it’s also possible to extend this caching timeframe through CMS settings. This is especially beneficial for content that doesn’t regularly change on your site. If your CMS doesn’t offer this feature, then consider installing a caching plugin.

10. Combine and minimise JavaScript and CSS files

JavaScript and CSS files often rank among the largest components of a website, and each of them counts as an individual HTTP request. For instance, if you have five JS files and five CSS files, that’s a total of 10 HTTP requests.

If you’re proficient in website development, you can optimise by combining sets of JavaScript or CSS files, thereby reducing the number of steps needed to fully load your site.

Additionally, another effective strategy is minifying JavaScript and CSS files. This process reduces file sizes and subsequently improves load times. Minification can be done manually or through the use of specialised minification tools.

If your website needs optimising to fix any speed issues – feel free to get in touch to chat about how we can help you with this (or anything else).