Your website is a very important element of your company in this day and age, but when it doesn’t load fast enough, people can be turned around, never to come back again. Nowadays, people are accustomed to getting what they want at a moment’s notice and, as a culture, we have very little patients when we are made to wait.
In order to ensure your potentials clients and customers stay long enough to buy, you need to make your website fast to respond, regardless of the bandwidth that person is pulling.
Check the Speed Before you attempt to make any changes, it is wise to check the load speed. This will give you a clear picture of how the consumer is seeing it. Google’s Page Speed is a good option for this, but recall that these tests should be run on a variety of browsers and at a variety of internet speeds to ensure that it is friendly for most, if not all users. Average load speed typically falls between two and three seconds. The fastest sites will load in less than a second.
Compress Images Pictures on a website are an excellent way to draw in the eye and hold one’s interest. However, they are notoriously slower loading that text. Free compressing programs are available online. The compressed images can be saved to your hard drive, and then uploaded to replace the existing images on the site.
Scale Images The same programs will often offer the option to scale images, but this can be done manually with programs like PhotoShop, rather simply.
Combine Images You might also consider combining images, so the browsers loads just one as opposed to four or five. This can be done using CSS sprites. If you are going to use this method, consider free online services like SpriteMe.
Optimize Caching This will slow the load time for return visitors, which is nice, but it can also be a nuisance if the website is updated frequently. Caching can stop the serve reload and thereby disable that change in information. Essentially, a version of the site is downloaded to the computer and saved there as a temporary file, so the webpage is called up from that local copy when visited again. The advantages and disadvantages must be weighed before following through with this process. A small addition to the html code, including an expiry date or max age statement, is all that is required to optimize caching. The more often you update your website, the shorter you want that max age to be. Aggressive caching can set that expiry date out a full year.
With a few minor changes to your page, you will see a drastic improvement in your loading time, even on the slowest browsers.