Simple techniques to optimise your website loading times
Your website’s running a little slow and you’re not sure what to do, your web host claims that it’s nothing to do with them and leaves you on your own but where do you start?! Luckily, there’s a wealth of information and options out there that you can use to speed up your website. Some are incredibly easy and will take a couple of minutes but some may take a little more configuration but in the end, it’s worth it if you shave off precious time spent waiting for your page to load!
- Choose a reliable web host close to either you or the majority of your visitors
Many people overlook this most simplest of steps when they’re first starting out and usually go for the cheapest packages they can find. This may result in a UK/European based client having all of their content in the United States and if you run an image heavy site, this could make a big difference! You also want to make sure that you choose a reputable and reliable web host for your content so your website isn’t crammed onto an overloaded server like sardines. At NetHosted we deploy all of our shared machines on CloudLinux (with extremely generous resource allocations) which means that no one site on the server is going to be able to cause an issue for others!
- Use well written / optimised software
There are so many options to choose from when it comes to software to power your site and the vast majority of you will turn to a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. These in themselves aren’t bad choices, they’re popular and well supported (as well as available to install within a few clicks in your NetHosted Control Panel) but the issues come when you bring in 3rd party themes and plugins. Make sure that when choosing a theme, you choose one that isn’t laden with images and one that’s built on a light framework. This may not always be possible however so you may just want to try a few and test the loading times (Pingdom’s Website speed test is a great tool for this – https://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/) to see which is best. When it comes to plugins though, always ask yourself “Do I need this?” before you install them. It may be tempting to have many plugins running for every feature imaginable but many are not required and can be easily implemented via other methods (contact a reputable developer for advice if necessary!) which would prevent the sluggishness found on so many sites. Every plugin will tend to have its own CSS and code that needs to be loaded and executed upon page load, if you have 15+ of these all running on page loads, you’re going to have a bad time!
- Optimise your images as best you can
Your almost guaranteed to have images on your website at some point or another so make sure you optimise them as best you can so that they load as quickly as possible! Choose an appropriate file type for the picture, many people will use a .PNG file when it’s not necessary, .JPEG/JPG will do the job just fine in most cases and cut your image size dramatically. On top of that, make use of the incredibly helpful, free service called Smush.it which strips unwanted data from image files to reduce the size and thus loading time on your website.
- Introduce caching
Caching is a simple process that saves time by storing data where it’s easier to retrieve. For example on your computer/laptop at home, if you visit the NetHosted website, your browser will save the images on the first page load and when you navigate to a sub page, it will load much quicker as your device already has it saved locally in a temporary folder. This saves time (along with bandwidth and resources on the server) as you don’t have to download it again. A similar tactic can be used for things like search queries on CMS based websites like WordPress. If you have people searching for “cat pictures” on your website ever 2 minutes but you don’t update the content more often than that, implementing caching will shave time off your page loading as the server doesn’t need to run the search query again every time, it just shows what it’s cached. There are many plugins available for various CMS based sites out there, our favourite for the most popular, WordPress is W3 Total Cache.
Following these tips should certainly speed up your website, of course you’ll need fast hosting as part of this too. We’re very proud of the speed of our hosting platform so if you are not currently with NetHosted then it may be time to give us a try, with our 14 day money back guarantee you can do this risk-free and get your site back up to speed!