A Guide to Handling Slow Loading Web Pages

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A Guide to Handling Slow Loading Web Pages

It’s a fact: people hate waiting. Nobody wants to wait for a slow loading web page. In the opening chapter of his best-selling book Speed up your site: Website Optimization, Andy King emphasizes that ‘the web is in essence a self-service environment with a core promise of speed’.

‘A visitor or customer chooses self-service to save time and money and because self-service is very convenient’, he says. You may call web users impatient, even spoiled, but the truth is that the web-surfing traffic cannot afford to wait longer than necessary for a page to load when they can find the information, service, or products they want on your page elsewhere.

Effects of Slow Loading Web Pages

You run a serious risk of losing customers and even search engines if your page loads slower than the speed of instant gratification. Because web pages keep growing more and more complex, services and tools getting even more diverse and comprehensive, and graphics become heavier and more defined, it is expected that web pages take longer and longer to load. However, your page should not be so slow as to cost you page views, visitors, advertising impressions, or ultimately, loss of revenue. In this post, we will try to understand why your page’s load time is unimpressively long and what you can do about fixing it.

Considering that your SEO highly depends on the performance of your web page, no matter how well you optimize the page for the search engines, it will still show a poor SERP ranking unless you work on the load time. The speed at which your web page loads also greatly impacts your page conversion rates and sales, as well as significantly deteriorates the user experience, and increases the page bounce rate which you don’t want.

Speed Test: Benchmarking Your Website Load Speed

The first thing you should do is find out how fast your web pages actually load. There are two popular and potent tools you can use to carry out this test and diagnose what could be making your page heavy and hindering its performance: Pingdom (http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/) and GTmetrix (http://gtmetrix.com/). These are web-based technologies that you can use to determine the average time it takes to load your webpage.

Note that your website’s load time also depends on the physical location of the visitor. It is therefore recommended that you test this performance from the standpoint of your most valued audience. While an overall improvement of your site’s page load performance will see improvements around the world, it is best to focus on your primary geographical market in order to return the most on your investment.

Start With the Low Hanging Fruit: The Front End

One of the biggest contributors to slow loading web pages is redirecting and broken links. When you diagnose your website’s performance on sites such as Pingdom.com and GTmetrics.com, you should get a report that details what could be hindering your site’s performance and suggestions on how to rectify this. The good thing is that while errors and page redirects are bad, they are often easy to fix.

In most cases, redirects and errors are as a result of widgets, tools, and services that run on your page. For instance, if your web page is a blog monetized through ads, advertising networks use up some of the redirecting resources. Once these are fixed, the next step will be to look at the next major culprits of slow page load which are uncompressed assets on your webpage.

Compression and Website Assessment

According to statistics by W3Techs.com, about half of all website do not use compression. Compression is often a server setting that should be enabled by the web host, although it is possible for you to configure it on your own. There are great tools available that you can use to compress website data, especially large graphics, to significantly boost page load time. One of the most popular tools you should read more about is Gzip.

To know just how well your page performs, it is recommended that you make use of the various website assessment tools like the Google Page Speed Insights, a free online tool that provides comprehensive and accurate page performance information. This is particularly important if you are trying out the different compression tools out there and wish to know more about their performances before committing to one. When used together with image optimization tools such as ShortPixel or Caesium, you can stay abreast with minute-by-minute changes in your web page’s performance at all times.

Hosting and SEO

On the list of the most important things you can do to improve your website’s load time is choosing the right web host. Your choice of a host has a direct impact on how the user interacts with your website content. For instance, hosting your website in an optimized dedicated server will provide a much better experience for the user at any time of the day compared to hosting your website on a managed or shared hosting server.

Optimize your website for faster performance by adding an index to your website’s database as this will make it faster to find any kind of information especially for large databases. This also includes WordPress websites which can become bloated with too much overhead in the database that can slow down your site. Additionally, you can get rid of tracking codes, share buttons, and video embeds as well as any unnecessary analytics programs that serve little purpose on the website. To further improve the website’s performance, enable caching when available so that data such as texts, images, and scripts can be stored on the user’s browser’s cache to reduce page load times on subsequent visits. Also consider using content delivery networks (CDNs) for higher performance and deliverability of web objects. Some of the more popular ones are: https://www.cloudflare.com, https://www.akamai.com, https://www.maxcdn.com/, and https://aws.amazon.com/cloudfront/

Optimize Content

When a user visits your page, JavaScript & JQuery is loaded, interpreted then converted on the user’s computer, which affects system memory and speed. You should therefore try to optimize this code for best results no matter the browser or platform the user is using. Where possible, use a server-side language such as PHP or HTML rather than relying too heavily on client-side languages such as JQuery or JavaScript because the user’s browser can process these languages as much as 10 times faster. When you use either, however, ensure that their files are up to date and test on different platforms and browsers before deployment just to be sure. Optimizing content is a sure way of dealing with slow loading web pages and boosting customer experience.

In A Nutshell…

Making sure each of your web pages are fully optimized can be an overwhelming task and you really need to have a well thought-out game plan to execute it correctly. Thankfully all of our themes here on 99SiteDesign.com are optimized when delivered to you so you don’t have to worry about that! We make sure each of our sites pass a high grade on GTmetrix.com and Yslow.com to ensure that bounce rates are kept at a minimum and visitor experience is at its  best. For more information about our themes, please call 303-200-1000 or visit our theme page to get started today!

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