How does your website perform? Is it quick and lean? Or slow to load and laggy?
What are your visitors doing when they arrive? Browsing to your goal pages, or bouncing right off the site in a few seconds?
Every business website has specific goals.
You’ll know what yours are, and (assuming you are checking your analytics) you’ll have a good idea whether your website is working well to attract potential buyers, draw and engage them into the site and convert them into prospects or customers.
Yet attractive design and compelling copy – while important – are not enough on their own to ensure good website performance.
When visitors arrive on your website, they have high expectations.
These go beyond the attractiveness of the site. The expect to find what they’re looking for immediately. Web users are impatient and short of time. They expect a beneficial and rewarding experience – and they expect it fast.
If your site is slow or cumbersome, your visitors will lose leave your site in a few seconds, go back to their search – and head straight to your competitors.
Just look at these stats:
- A delay of just one second can reduce page views by as much as 11% (source)
- 47% of users expect web pages to load in no more than 2 seconds (source)
- If a website takes over 3 seconds to load, 40% of visitors will abandon it (source)
To meet your goals, your website must be optimised for maximum performance. Speeding up your site can reduce your bounce rate by providing users with a positive experience. It can even help to improve your SEO to attract more targeted visitors in the first place.
So how can you optimise your site?
In this article, we’ll look at 7 steps you can take to optimise your website for maximum performance.
1) Switch to a better web hosting provider
Switching to a faster web host can have an instant impact on your website’s performance, and it’s one of the simplest and fastest ways to see an improvement.
Don’t assume that all web hosts are the same – they are not. Different companies have very different reputations, and some are better than others.
In addition, there different types of web hosting are available. Yes, you can get very cheap shared hosting from a web host these days, but performance will inevitably suffer.
Consider using a virtual private server (VPS) or cloud hosting from a reputable host. You might even want dedicated hosting – this is the most expensive option, but you get your own server and it’s the most secure.
In short, with slow web hosting, you’re fighting an uphill battle. You can make all the changes you want to your website, but it won’t have much impact.
2) Increase availability
What’s the worst thing that can happen when a potential customer visits your website?
They find nothing there.
You want to aim for uptime of 100%. (In reality, you’ll never hit 100%, but 99.99% is fine.)
Your web host has a big role to play in this. Most reputable hosts will guarantee 99.99% uptime or close enough. Don’t assume that 99% is enough – it sounds good, but that actually converts into a lot of downtime.
So when you’re choosing your host, find out how much uptime you can expect.
Read some customer reviews too and find out what other people say about the amount of downtime, then use all this information to make your decision.
3) Ensure a Fast ‘Time to First Byte’ (TTFB)
Things start getting a bit technical here, which is where your developer can come in.
The time to first byte, or TTFB, is the amount of time it takes for the visitor’s computer to receive the first byte of data from the server. The browser sends the initial request to the web server, which sends its initial response back to the browser. (It’s more technical than this, but we’ll keep it simple!)
So, the TTFB is the amount of time that the browser is waiting for the server’s initial response – and you want it to be as fast as possible.
A faster server can make a difference.
But part of this is in your control and comes down to how your website is configured and optimised. Your developer can test this and make improvements to speed up the TTFB.
4) Optimise all images
Images are an important element of all websites and for web design in general. They add interest and visual appeal to your service pages, products and blogs.
But they can also slow your site down.
Large, beautiful images may look amazing, but they can result in sluggish performance. If you have a landing page with a large image that slows down the loading time, it can hurt conversions even if you do everything else right.
If you run your site on WordPress, there are plugins available (e.g. Imagify) that can optimise the images and help your site to load faster.
But while this can be a simple solution if you’re short on time, it’s always best to optimise the images before you upload them.
And if you already have lots of non-optimised images on your site, you can always employ an SEO expert to manually optimise them for you.
5) Reduce the number of plugins
Plugins can be very useful for speeding up your website. (Try to go with a free plugin like WP Fastest Cache rather than a premium plugin, as these are often just as good.)
However, too many unnecessary plugins can slow things down.
In fact, if your site is too slow, you may want to deactivate all the plugins and then activate them one by one and find out which is causing the problems.
You can get a deeper insight into how your website is loading by plugging your URL into GTmetrix, but you may want your developer to help with this too.
6) Minimise HTTP requests
HTTP requests are essentially how browsers view web pages. The browser sends an HTTP request to the web server, and the HTML response is then delivered.
In short, more requests result in a slower loading time.
How should you reduce these? Reducing the number of plugins on your site is one element. However, there are many other techniques such as combining style sheets and script files, using image sprites for icons and switching off unnecessary functions.
Again, it’s best to talk to your developer about these.
7) Take steps to boost your website’s performance
You want a website that performs, and there are many steps you can take to achieve this.
Use the tips above to give your website a boost. A faster website will improve the user experience, encourage users to stay for longer, increase conversions and even help with your ranking in search results.
Good luck optimising your website! If you want help with this or any elements of your web design, contact the C4B Media team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01763 877110.