Improving page loading times

Improving page loading times

One of the biggest enemies of website conversions is slow webpage loading times, commonly shoppers are not likely to wait more than 3 seconds for a page to load and many expect it to be finished in two. Large amounts of customers, new and returning are frequently lost due to the extended wait of loading times, and when you are pulling new customers in through SKU Feeds this is even more of an issue as those leads could be wasted if that abandon their cart. But if you are having this issue you are definitely not alone. Many websites struggle with improving loading time, and many simply do not know what to do to improve it. If you’re looking for a solution to your loading issues try some of the suggestions below to get your site back up the standard and keep those customers returning.

Minimising HTTP requests

When loading a website downloading pieces of a page accounts for most of its loading time, this is simply due to the amount of things that have to be downloaded. The more things on a page the longer it takes for a browser to load them, things such as images and scripts are what takes up a majority of the time. This can be fixed by streamlining the website design, for an even simpler site reduce scripts and place them lower down on each page. Use image replacements where possible and do this on each page. The end result will see a much quicker loading time from your webpage.

Enabling compression

Any large website pages will inevitably take longer to load than smaller ones, a solution to this can be to compress webpages to reduce the required amount of HTTP response. This can be easily done with the correct tools, these kinds of tools are able to reduce files before browser download meaning they load faster for the viewer. Download time can be cut largely by doing this.

Enabling browser caching

Enable caching lets website information be stored on hard drive or temporary storage of the viewer. This means less information will have to be downloaded next time the page is opened by this user on the same device. When caching is enabled load time is quickened due to fewer downloads and can be shortened by as much as a couple seconds. This however is not a sole solution, as first time users or users with a clear cache will have to deal with original loading times and will likely leave if they are still too long, rendering caching useless.

Optimising images

Having images that correctly suit their purpose can speed a website’s loading time up easily. Preparing images in this way means having as little data on images as possible. This can be done by removing descriptions and comments to save space and always being sure to check that images are the correct size for their purpose. For example, putting a 1000x1000px image in a 500×500 image space and allowing a width parameter to resize it to that smaller requirement takes up a lot more room than a well fitted image as the original file is still considerably bigger than necessary.  Resize all images to specified details to help them load faster.

Prioritising above the fold content

Put your most important content above the fold where a visitor can see straight away whilst keeping scripts and other long loading items below it.  This way it gives the user the appearance of quicker loading and gives them something to look at while the rest of the page catches up. This can be a good technique for items that load slow and cannot be sped up, as they can have attention drawn away from them. But be aware if you website is fully responsive, as the fold will differ from device to device and also be sure not to let the rest of the page take longer than a couple seconds to load as customers will be more likely to notice and complain if it takes too long.

Reducing the number of plugins used

More plugins for a web page to function means more to load, too many can greatly increase loading times as all of them will need to be loaded too. You are able to streamline again by removing any plugins that are not completely necessary. Do this by finding out which ones do not benefit your site or which particularly slow them down and consider these for removal. Try to remove as many as possible, but be careful not to remove something that is crucial for the functioning of your site.

Fixing bad requests

When a link does not load properly it can slow down download time dramatically, this kind of issue is usually due to broken links. This is because they are requests that yield no results and are effectively pointless, only displaying the most common 404 errors or broken image symbols in place of missing information. Make a point of going through and fixing any broken pages or missing images to stop browsers requesting information that does not exist. This way your page can be sped up as browsers are only requesting information on relevant and useful pages.

Any of the above suggestions could get you on your way to a faster and more successful website. Test your website against the solutions and find which ones are right for you, there’s no way you can go wrong when it comes to improving your site, whether you decide to simplify the site itself or just its components.

About the Author
Laura
Content Manager