Is Slow Website Performance Killing Your Business?

September 12, 2011 - Posted by to web design,web hosting

If you aren’t concerned with your website’s speed — you should be. Customers want information and they want it fast. According to research, a tiny 100 millisecond delay for Amazon.com reduces their sales by one percent. If you run an e-commerce site that already competes on thin margins, one slow day could easily cut into a month's profits. Brick-and-mortar shops with websites that provide important information and help generate leads are vulnerable as well.

website load time

Attack your website’s load time head on with these three great web optimization tips:

Reduce Each Web Page’s Overhead

The biggest speed problem for a site is usually too much overhead. If little concern was taken upfront, your website’s HTML code, images, css, and javascript may all need improvement. 

Professional web developers are usually good at writing nice, clean code with little assistance beyond simple code hinting. Alternatively, if your site was created from the ground up using solely a “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” (WYSIWYG) editor, such as Dreamweaver's design view, the site’s code is very likely bloated. The automated software isn’t always sure what’s needed, so it can error on the side of caution and dump in unnecessary code.

WordPress and Joomla content management tools have brought affordable, easily-edited websites to the masses, but they have also filled sites with extra code. If extreme care wasn’t taken to optimize plugins and core settings, your site is likely in the heavy-weight category. Once your site has grown beyond its infancy stage, have a programming expert strip out the extras.

Javascript and CSS can and should be minified for the fastest site performance. Minifying code removes extra space and improves efficiency by combining duplicate commands. There are plenty of online apps that will take care of the process for you. Just backup the original code and post the updated code online.

Graphics and videos take up a lot of space and usually offer a speed advantage when compressed. Choose the smallest image and video size that retains your version of acceptable quality. For pictures, an image editing program such as Photoshop is capable of handling the task. An alternative free option for graphics is the online image-compression tool from Yahoo, called Smush.it. 

Distribute Content From Next Door

A great way to improve hosting-related load time is to reducing the distance between your server and customers. A content delivery network (CDN) does exactly that by distributing static content to your customers from the closest server location. Essentially, a CDN network adds another layer of service onto your exiting website hosting. Today, these networks provide both an affordable and reliable method to improve load time.  Be sure to talk with your current hosting provider about the CDN options they offer.

Monitor Ongoing Website Performance

Google is always shaking things up and the latest version of Analytics will help you monitor your website’s speed. Now, with a simple one line modification to the on-page Analytics code, you can track the actual load time for customers. If that isn’t enough to convince you of the importance, the search engine masters have also factored your site’s load time into their search results. That’s right — faster sites equal better search results.