So you’ve just finished the landing page to your website, and it looks super slick. There’s only one problem though … it takes over 10 seconds to load! You only have the attention of people that come to your website for a short period of time, and if their patience runs our before your webpage loads, they could be lost forever. Plus, page speed is now a ranking factor in several search engines. In this post, I’ll give a few general tips for speeding up your webpages.
Why is your page slow?
Before you can fix a problem, you need to know where the problem is. There are a few browser plugins and online tools that will help you identify what’s slowing down your webpage. My favourites are:
- YSlow - will analyse your webpage based on Yahoo!’s rules for high performance
- PageSpeed - a plugin for Google Chrome that analyses pages and suggests performance improvements.
- http://www.webpagetest.org/ - an online way to test your websites performance. I find it a good idea to use this a few times to benchmark your website before and after you make changes to it.
I generally use both YSlow and PageSpeed to analyse the performance of a webpage. They both have different strengths, but combined they will cover almost everything. PageSpeed is amazing at optimizing the images on your website, so they are much smaller but look almost exactly the same. YSlow is a bit like a nagging mother; it will complain about everything, but prioritizes problem so you can fix the most important ones first.
Bear in mind though, that occasionally your website will be slow because your hosting provider is slow. If you’re on a bargain basement hosting package, there’s a chance that you and 250+ other people could be sharing a single machine, which could cause significant slowdown.
How do you make your web pages quicker?
There is a fantastic, in-depth article on SEOmoz about optimizing your webpages. Here, I’m going to cover what I consider the 2 most important things that you should do; these things made the greatest impact to our website speed.
1. Reduce Requests
2. Cache, Cache, Cache!
Ideally, what you want to happen is that once a web browser has downloaded a file from your webserver, it never needs to download it again. Google has an excellent, detailed post on configuring your webserver for caching. Essentially, you want your webserver to tell the customers browser that if they already have a copy of a file, they don’t need to look for a new one again for a month (or longer). Remember, the less files/images that a customers browser has to download from your site, the quicker your website will be for them.
Do you know any good tools for optimizing web pages that we haven’t covered here? What have your experiences been of webpage speed? We’d love to hear – leave us some comments!