Wednesday, November 6, 2019

10 Tips for Optimizing Your Website’s Speed

Web page speed and performance is very important to the user experience. If your site is too slow, you’ll not only be losing visitors, but also potential customers. Search engines like Google factor a website’s speed into account in search rankings, so when optimizing your site’s speed, you should take everything into consideration. Every millisecond counts.

Here are just a few basic and general suggestions for improving a site’s performance.

1. Defer Loading Content When Possible

Ajax allows us to build web pages that can be asynchronously updated at any time. This means that instead of reloading an entire page when a user performs an action, we can simply update parts of that page.

We can use an image gallery as an example. Image files are big and heavy; they can slow down page-loading speeds of web pages. Instead of loading all of the images when a user first visits the web page, we can just display thumbnails of the images and then when the user clicks on them, we can asynchronously request the full-size images from the server and update the page. This way, if a user only wants to see a few pictures, they don’t have to suffer waiting for all of the pictures to download. This development pattern is called lazy loading.

Ajax/web development libraries like jQuery, Prototype, and MooTools can make deferred content-loading easier to implement.

2. Use External JS and CSS Files

When the user first loads your web page, the browser will cache external resources like CSS and JavaScript files. Thus, instead of inline JavaScript and CSS files, it’s best to place them in external files.

Using inline CSS also increases the rendering time of a web page; having everything defined in your main CSS file lets the browser do less work when rendering the page, since it already knows all the style rules that it needs to apply.

As a bonus, using external JavaScript and CSS files makes site maintenance easier because you only need to maintain global files instead of code scattered in multiple web pages.

3. Use Caching Systems

If you find that your site is connecting to your database in order to create the same content, it’s time to start using a caching system. By having a caching system in place, your site will only have to create the content once instead of creating the content every time the page is visited by your users. Don’t worry, caching systems periodically refresh their caches depending on how you set it up — so even constantly-changing web pages (like a blog post with comments) can be cached.

Popular content management systems like WordPress and Drupal will have static caching features that convert dynamically generated pages to static HTML files to reduce unnecessary server processing. For WordPress, check out WP Super Cache (one of the six critical WordPress plugins that Six Revisions has installed). Drupal has a page-caching feature in the core.

There are also database caching and server-side scripts caching systems that you can install on your web server (if you have the ability to do so). For example, PHP has extensions called PHP accelerators that optimize performance through caching and various other methods; one example of a PHP accelerator is APC. Database caching improves performance and scalability of your web applications by reducing the work associated with database read/write/access processes; memcached, for example, caches frequently used database queries.

4. Avoid Resizing Images in HTML

If an image is originally 1280x900px in dimension, but you need to have it be 400x280px, you should resize and resave the image using an image editor like Photoshop instead of using HTML’s width and height attributes (i.e. <img width="400" height="280" src="myimage.jpg" />). This is because, naturally, a large image will always be bigger in file size than a smaller image.

Instead of resizing an image using HTML, resize it using an image editor like Photoshop and then save it as a new file.

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