When it comes to delivering your website’s content to the world, slow and steady most definitely do NOT win the race! For various reasons, you need to make sure your website is as fast as possible. There are several techniques at your fingertips to help you deliver super-fast website page loading times.
Why Website Speed is Important
There are two main reasons why site loading speed is so important: search engine optimization (SEO) and user experience. Please note that for this article we’re focusing on WordPress and Shopify sites. This is because WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) on the web. As well as Shopify being the most popular e-commerce platform.
It’s worth noting that the average person’s attention on a screen lasts a mere 47 seconds. It’s hard to believe that, from an attention span measured at 150 seconds in 2004. We’ve somehow managed to—squirrel! But seriously, folks, 70% of the users in an Unbounce survey said that page load speed influences their online buying decisions.
On the SEO side, faster and more efficiently-loading websites get a boost in search engine rankings. This means that you can gain an advantage over your competitors just through website performance!
How Fast Should Your Website Be?
The short answer is “as fast as possible”, but you should consider anything over two seconds to be too slow. A few years back, the BBC did a study. They found that it was losing 10% of its audience for every extra second its site took to load!
Give Your Website a Speed Test Your Site
There are lots of completely free tools out there to help you analyse page speed. Tools such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom’s speed test. When you enter your site’s URL you will get the results of your site speed. You’ll see a lot of technical stuff that we will quickly explain as we go.
Here are the sorts of recommendations the speed test results will contain, as well as what they mean for you.
The fewer elements on a web page the better from a speed point of view. The fewer HTTP requests are needed to render the page—so it loads faster.
Expires headers make many elements of your website cacheable, which makes the page load faster for repeat visitors.
Would you rather fly directly to your beach holiday, or make a bunch of stopovers? Yeah, these are URL redirects, and they’re about as welcome as a 3-hour layover!
Empty src or href:
Computing resources are wasted when a browser encounters an empty web page element. This will also slows down page performance.
DOM stands for “Document Object Model”. It is the data representation of the structure and content of a web page. The more of these on a page, the “heavier” it is; since it contains more data.
This is the little thumbnail for your site that appears in the browser tab. Make it very small—and cacheable!
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are sets of formatting rules that control how your content appears on a web page. If you’re using WordPress, every modern theme you could possibly use will utilise CSS. So it’s not something you need to add.
Speeding up a WordPress Site
WordPress is easy for site owners to set up and use, but that convenience comes with a performance cost. You didn’t think helping your website to load faster was going to be THAT easy, did you?
However, you can indeed have it all: ease of use AND solid performance—without spending too much money. Here are some WordPress-specific tips for speeding up your website.
Start with a reliable web hosting service
If you’re using Tasjeel.ae for your web hosting, you’ve got this covered already!
If your provider keeps you in the slow lane, you can level up and enjoy a full suite of hosting services. You’re Served lightning-fast—with Tasjeel.ae for less than AED1 per day.
Update, update, update!
Make sure your WordPress core and plugins are all up to date. Its worth running the latest version of PHP.
(Tasjeel.ae helps you stay up to date on all of this stuff with automatic and one-click installations. So you’re not messing about with FTP uploads or whatever people did in the prehistoric era of 1998.) Also, take this opportunity to delete whatever themes and plugins you aren’t using.
Pingbacks and trackbacks aren’t really worth i
We’re all about sharing the love, but we are NOT about slowing down page performance. Or opening you up to spam and abuse. So we suggest disabling pingbacks and trackbacks on your WordPress site.
Use a lightweight theme
Cluttered websites are hard on the eyes anyway, right? It’s no longer the late 1990s, so make sure your blog or website only has the elements it needs. Elements that help to show off your content or products.
Get rid of unused plugins
WordPress has countless plugins to help you customise your website, but not all of them are worth it. Surely you will test out several and only keep the ones that serve your purposes best. Be sure to delete the plugins you aren’t using.
Image optimisation: Make sure you’re not serving gigantic images. Only uploading the minimum sized pictures you need to maintain quality. Or try image optimisation plugins, lime Smush.
Link to videos instead of hosting them
YouTube and Vimeo give you those embed codes for a reason!
That way you’re not slowing down your page-load speed with video on your own server. The videos are already cued up for playback on the world’s most powerful video platforms. There’s no sense in trying to reinvent the wheel!
Manage Your Media Files
Images on your website will be viewed on a screen—or, more likely these days, a phone. You don’t need to upload massive images sizes. In fact, we don’t suggest anything larger than 72dpi.
In terms of dimensions, your media files should only be as large as they need to be. This is in order to look good in the context of your website. Any bigger, and that size only hurts your site loading quickly. Optimizing images is an important step in your site performance.
Cache is King!
There IS one WordPress plugin you’ll definitely want to try: W3 Total Cache. The cool kids call it W3TC, and it’s a web performance optimization (WPO) tool. It works no matter where your website is hosted.
Use a CDN
An easy way to win a race is to simply start out closer to the finish line! You can do that with your WordPress site.
A Content Delivery network (CDN) takes your website content and distributes across many servers worldwide. That way, when someone visits your site, the page loads from the server that’s closest to them.
Popular CDN services include CloudFlare, Sucuri, Bunny.net, and Jetpack. If you use Shopify to power your online store, a CDN, powered by CloudFlare, is already included.
Find out more information on the positives and negatives of a CDN here.
Speeding up a Shopify Site
Shopify is popular for an excellent reason: it’s a turnkey solution. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t customisable—or fixable if it’s slowing down your site.
If your Shopify site is getting lapped, it’s time to start streamlining. Of the factors under your control that impact site speed, the most common ones are Shopify apps and theme elements.
If there’s an app or theme you’re not using in your live site, then you should delete it. You can then disable and re-enable the remaining apps. Theme elements until you identify which one is slowing your site down.
The Shopify app store has several heatmap tools. These will tell you which features your customers are using… and which features are not. Those features they’re not using? Maybe it’s time to send them off into the sunset.
Shopify also has a Theme Inspector plugin for the Chrome browser. This can sniff out and identify code that could be slowing down your site.
The Things You Can’t Control
There are, of course, factors beyond your control when it comes to how users experience your website. For example, how fast their internet connection is—are we talking office WiFi or free airport WiFi? Other factors include the type and age of the device. As well as web browser they’re using, and how recently they cleared their browser cache.
Don’t Just Sit There… Speed Up Your Website!
As you can see, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to speed up your site. Businesses and content creators can benefit from faster sites. It will result in better user experience and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This will help to attract more customers and a larger audience.
Hopefully this article helps you in your journey towards a faster website. If you’re a Tasjeel.ae customer, you can always contact our five-star support team for help.