The Key to Speeding Up your Website’s Load Time

Have you clicked on a link only to sit, staring at a white page on your browser? In your haste you clicked out of the slow loading site and set out to find a faster option. Find out here how your website can avoid the same fate, and increase its viewership.

Why A Page’s Load Speed is Important

What actually happens when you visit a webpage

Two different processes occur in tandem when you press enter and load a webpage on your browser, the front end side and the server end side. For the front end side, the webpage must download and render itself to your computer. Without the front end side, a webpage wouldn’t have any content to display. Page composition, the user’s computer performance, and network speed are important variables that affect front end load time. A good front end side doesn’t mean just a pretty webpage, but a well organized, efficient webpage. A webpage’s server end side generates the page on your screen, and involves the quality of the page’s source code, the server’s power and location, and the network connection. You can take particular steps to improve your page’s client and server sides.

back end code
A page's back end turns a web developer's code into the page on your display

front end side
‍A page’s front end side concerns rendering the page’s elements

Tips for Improving Both Ends

An Overview

Front End Side Improvements:

• Conduct a test on pingdom to estimate your page’s load time.
• Cut down on large (file-size) page elements.
• Page elements from outside servers, specifically javascript elements.
• Poorly written plugins.

Server End Side Improvements:

• Writing more efficient source code, or SQL.
• Server type: shared versus dedicated.
• Page caching

viewer attention
‍Decreasing load time will keep your viewers on your webpage

Why Load Time Matters

Faster load time can increase your page’s viewership

Humans crave stimulation, and we get dopamine boosts every time we click a button and it does what we want it to do. Because of this, we get pretty frustrated when we don’t see what we want soon after. People tend to click away from a webpage that hasn’t loaded after about five seconds of waiting on average, and three seconds on mobile devices. Cutting down on this load time is crucial to keeping eyes on your site. Gal meets Glam is an example of a webpage that makes up for its slow load time (about ten or more seconds, give it a try!) by maintaining superior content. This is the exception to the rule. People just starting out cultivating a webpage don’t have the name recognition, outreach, and content to make up for a slow loading webpage. People will leave before your content can engage them. If you fall into this category, continue reading below to see how to improve load time through your front and server end sides.

Improving Your Page’s Front End Side

google laptop
‍Optimizing your page’s composition can increase your viewership

During the process of loading a webpage, your page must be rendered on the front end. This means the page elements must be stacked and composed in order for them to be generated on the server end, and appear on the viewer’s computer screen. Page elements tend to slow down the rendering process if they’re big files, so you should make sure to compress your page’s images and any other present elements into zip files so that they don’t bog down rendering. One big element isn’t worth losing out on viewers, because most will never see it, so be careful not to add large sized elements.

Pingdom dashboard
‍Pingdom can help you determine your page elements rendering speed

You may ask, how do I know which elements on my page are bogging down load time? You could test it yourself, but factors such as individual internet connection and computer performance may compromise your test’s validity. Instead, do a quick pingdom test on your webpage. Simply visit the previous link and copy and paste your webpage’s url into it and press enter. Pingdom will compile a list of all of the page elements, and the amount of time it took to load each one. From this list you can determine what elements appear quickly, and which need to be compressed or omitted.

server side
‍Improving your site’s server side will decrease load time

Server Side Speed Ups

Server side optimization generates pages faster

All webpages rely on some server to get their content to generate onto the viewer’s computer, in a large communication process between different entities. If that server is inefficient then it doesn’t matter how well composed your page elements are or how fast the internet connection is, your viewers have already clicked out of your page because it wasn’t generating fast enough. Inefficient source code and poor server practices are the common culprits for poor server side speed, and poor load speed overall. To improve server side speed, continue reading below.

Code Optimization

Your webpage’s source code acts as the blueprint that generates your page on the viewer’s computer screen. Poorly written source code leads to slowly generated webpages, and fewer eyes on your content. Take a fine tooth comb and look over your source code. Try to find areas where inefficiency is evident, and see if you can incorporate algorithms, or new code to fix these areas of need.

Server Type: Shared vs. Dedicated

The type of server your page utilizes impacts how fast your page can be generated. Most website beginners use a shared server, one that holds many websites and pages. These servers split up their facility and resources between different webpages. This can be quite cost effective, but it does not provide much in terms of page generation speed. Since you have to share with other pages, your server speed will take a hit, and there are even some security risks when using a shared server. Dedicated servers are the opposite of shared servers, they only serve one website or page. Dedicated servers have fast, commercial internet network speed, and they are secure and able to run scripts and applications without crashing. Spending a little bit more on a dedicated server means your viewers will stay on your page longer.

The Importance of Page Caching

When movies were put on DVDs, a technique was used to save space. The DVD would render anything in a moving picture that changed from frame to frame, but kept anything from the last frame that didn’t change. This meant that the DVD didn’t have to render repeated area’s twice, and this saved space. Page caching is essentially the same thing, only with website and not moving pictures. Normally, when a page loads the server receives a request for the page, then scans a query database for the requested page. After this, the server creates a template with the requested content, and the page is displayed. Page caching removes the need to scan the database and generate a template. By caching previously generated content like a DVD copying unchanged pieces of a moving picture, the server can generate from previous memory the requested page. Page caching can reduce your page’s load time, and can be turned on very easily.

‍Enabling caching for your web page decreases page generation time

You don’t want loading inefficiencies on your webpage. The longer the load speed more viewers leave your page. Be sure to follow the tips illustrated above to decrease your page’s load time, and increase your viewership and outreach.