Few technical aspects of your website are more important than page speed. It is one of the top factors Google uses when calculating search engine rankings and visitors simply won’t forgive a website that takes too long to load. In fact, statistics suggest that 1 in 4 visitors will abandon a webpage if it takes more than 4 seconds to load.
Fortunately, there are many strategies you can implement to help improve page speed and the overall user experience. If you have any concerns about your current website speed or are thinking of building a new site and want to prioritise speed from the get-go, speak with a professional web development services team.
Choose the right CMS platform
The first decision you make when building a website is often what will have the greatest impact on the speed of your site.
Choosing a CMS platform is a process that will usually be taken care of by your web development services team. However, it doesn’t hurt to know what the most popular platforms are and how they rank in terms of website speed.
WordPress accounts for approximately 455 million sites on the world wide web. Yep, you read that right — 455 million. There’s a reason it’s so popular: it is incredibly easy to use and strikes a balance between functionality and visual excellence.
However, more and more people are opting to use Drupal at their CMS platform of choice, particularly if the website they are working on is large and complex. As far as website speed goes, Drupal is no quicker or slower than other popular CMS platforms, like WordPress. Drupal themselves do offer a number of strategies for how to improve page speed. These are quite technical in nature, so it’s worth speaking them over with a Drupal developer in Melbourne.
Research hosting options carefully
A CMS isn’t all you’ll need to run a website. You also need to set up a host. A website host is where all your files live. All live websites on the internet have a host. There are companies that provide hosting — think of them like landlords renting out their space — for a price.
Some companies offer cheaper web hosting than others. Shared hosting is usually the cheapest type; as the name suggests, you will be sharing the server with other websites. Should their internet traffic spike, your speed can be affected.
With that in mind, it’s a safer option to go with either VPS hosting or a dedicated server. Shop around to find the best deal in terms of server space and cost.
Minifying refers to the process of minimising code and markup in your backend files. When building a website, developers tend to write code in a way that makes it easy to decipher and understand. However, this style of coding is not necessarily the best approach from a functionality perspective.
Closely related to the concept of minifying files is that of compressing images. Images often account for the most number of download bytes per page (the more download bytes, the longer the page will take to load). One way to circumvent this issue is by compressing your images and video assets.
By choosing the right file format and using a proper program (like Adobe Photoshop) to edit images, you can decrease the number of pixels in your visual assets without affecting the overall quality.
Depending on the CMS platform you are using, you might also have the option of installing plugins that can automatically compress files for you. Speak to a Drupal developer in Melbourne to learn more.
Enable browser caching
Each time you visit a new website, there are certain elements that are temporarily stored on your browser. The next time you visit that site, you don’t need to go through the entire process of sending a request and waiting for the server to respond; certain images, files, and content can automatically load.
This process is known as caching and it only happens if your development team enables it. There are a number of different strategies you can use to build what is known as a ‘cache-aware’ site, what approach you take tends to depend on the complexity of your website and what CMS platform you have used to build it.
Even when browsing online without any particular intent, users still want a fast, seamless experience. By working with your web development services team to prioritise page speed, you are increasing the likelihood that visitors will stick around longer, learn more about your company, and convert from a potential lead into a paying customer.