6 Ways to Reduce Page Load Time
You don’t need to be web wiz to know how important your page load time is when it comes to running an online business. It’s an established fact that page load times directly correlate to conversion rate, and site speed is also one of the factors used by Google to determine rankings.
Unfortunately, this is one of those times when it can be simple to spot an issue but it’s not always as easy to know exactly where to start getting it resolved.
Enable G-Zip compression
This is one of the fastest ways to improve your site’s performance, so it’s probably the first thing you should check. The idea here is to reduce the size of your webpage by compressing it – similar to the way you zip a file on your home computer. It’s easy to do, simply add the following code to the .htaccess file for your website:
mod_gzip_item_include file .(html?|txt|css|js|php|pl)$
mod_gzip_item_include handler ^cgi-script$
mod_gzip_item_include mime ^text/.*
mod_gzip_item_exclude mime ^image/.*
mod_gzip_item_exclude rspheader ^Content-Encoding:.*gzip.*
Use a CDN
Another great way to improve the speed of your site is to use a CDN (Content Delivery Network) service such as CloudFlare or Amazon’s CloudFront. What the heck is a CDN you ask? It’s a network of servers that store a cached copy of your website which makes for faster load times. While CDNs are often a paid service, there are a whole heap of different providers out there and pricing is generally pretty competitive.
Enable server-side caching
If your website is using a CMS such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal, chances are you have the ability to enable server-side caching. This works by generating a static HTML version of your website files and serving these instead of the heavier and slower PHP scripts that are normally run. This means less of a burden for the server and quicker load times as a result.
Leverage browser caching
Browser caching is similar to server-side caching, except that it’s done on the user’s computer. A copy of the site’s images and other resources is saved into the user’s temporary internet files and this is loaded on the next visit rather than downloading a fresh copy. Again, this is easy to set up – it’s just another few lines to add to your .htaccess file:
## EXPIRES CACHING ##
ExpiresByType image/jpg “access plus 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access plus 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/gif “access plus 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/png “access plus 1 year”
ExpiresByType text/css “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/pdf “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/x-icon “access plus 1 year”
ExpiresDefault “access plus 2 days”
## EXPIRES CACHING ##
Minification refers to removing unused characters from your website code, which makes for reduced file size and thus loading time. Another easy win, just use a tool like this and feed your code through it… presto, it’s minified!
Images are one of the bigger bottlenecks when it comes to page loading times. Make sure you’re not using a higher resolution than you need to, and use a lower size format such as png or jpg. You can also use tools like this one to help optimise your existing images.
Written by Jared Grayston — Group IT Manager at WME