Time for a Website Speed Test
When was the last time that you checked your website’s speed? Site speed is a big factor in landing and keeping people on your website. In fact, just one second of loading delay decreases conversions, page views, and customer satisfaction! Best practices are for sites to load in under 1.3 seconds.
Go check your site now, I’ll wait…
If it loaded quickly, I want you to try something else. Open it in a private window or check your site with a tool, like Pingdom. Since you visit your site often, your computer has a stored version of your site guaranteeing that it will load quickly for you. Loading it in a private window will show you how it loads to a new visitor.
If it’s not as fast as it should be, there are some adjustments that you can make to website to make it load faster.
The #1 issue that I see when it comes to speed is images that aren’t optimized for web.
We all want crisp, clean images, so it seems logical that large images would be necessary. However, compressed images look the same as a raw image without the site slowdown.
This is an easy fix and there are a number websites out there that can help you to compress images for free.
Make sure that you upload image relative to the size that they need to be. Header images need to be larger than thumbnails. Make sure to consider the purpose when making adjustments.
Another thing to consider is the file type. Aim to upload images in jpeg when possible unless you need transparency then use PNGs.
An outside factor that can contribute to slow site speed is your hosting provider. If you have been using free (or cheap) web-hosting, then you are probably sharing server resources with loads of other websites. When that happens, your site doesn’t get as many resources as it needs to run efficiently and therefore slows down.
Look for a hosting provider, like Classic City Consulting, that can manage your account monthly, make sure that it is backed-up, and has more resources being allocated to your site to keep it running efficiently. Also check that they provide server-side caching, like WP Engine or Kinsta, which removes the strain on servers by caching static content.
Your web developer can help you with this one! The gist is that the code that makes up your website has a lot of unnecessary characters that, when eliminated, can slightly increase your site speed.
Elegant Themes put together a list of tools that you can use to minify your files:
- Closure Compiler (JS only)
- csscompressor.net (CSS only)
- jscompress.com (JS only)
- refresh-sf.com (HTML, CSS and JS)
- htmlcompressor.com (HTML, CSS and JS)
- minifycode.com (HTML, CSS and JS)
- Dan’s Tool (CSS and JS)
Make sure to combine files into the same file (i.e. – all CSS into the same file).
In addition to the online tools, there are WordPress plugins that can be installed to do this.
- Autoptimize (HTML, JS, and CSS) – 4.7 star rating
- WP Super Minify (HTML, JS, and CSS) – 4 star rating
- WP Fastest Cache (HTML and CSS) – 4.8 star rating
- W3 Total Cache (HTML, JS, and CSS) – 4.3 star rating
- Merge + Minify + Refresh (JS and CSS) – 4.2 star rating
- Fast Velocity Minify (JS and CSS) – 4.8 star rating
- Hummingbird (JS and CSS) – 4.8 star rating
Some of these tools also provide all-in-one site optimization including caching and file compression
Host Video Externally
Video is a great tool to use on your site whether it’s for product demonstration, testimonials, or for engaging content. While it may be easy to just upload a file straight to your site, that is a guaranteed way to slow your site.
Using outside video hosting sites like Google or Vimeo and then embedding the link into your site is the way to go. If you have a big video on your server, every time someone hits your website it uses a lot of your resources. This way you can use YouTube’s resources, and they are set-up for it.
To make sure that the embedded video also doesn’t affect site speed, use lightboxes for videos. This will reduce the unnecessary server requests (like ads) and speed up your site.
Review Third-Party Tools
Third-party tools that you love and rely on may also be causing you issues. Chatbots, Google Analytics, back-up and security tools, social sharing tools, and integrated social media platforms working together can slow down your site.
While your server is trying to pull all the information from the other servers, your website visitor is impatiently waiting for the homepage to load. You can use tools like Pingdom to identify exactly what is causing the slowdown and either adjust or eliminate tools as needed.
It’s nice to have your Instagram feed on your homepage, but if they are causing people to bounce away from your site, it may be time to move it elsewhere.
Deleting any unused plugins is always a good way to keep your site securing and running smoothly, but sometimes active plugin can slow down the site. One of our favorite plugins, Ninja Forms, can slow down sites because the plugin loads it’s scripts and styles on every page – whether the form is present or not. This could be a potential issue with any plugin you have installed and activated.
There are some known culprits, but you can also install a plugin (we see the irony) that will evaluate your plugins. Hummingbird is one such plugin that will do the job.
Current PHP + WordPress Versions
Keeping things up-to-date is always a good move in making sure that your website is running efficiently. One factor that you may overlook, because it can be a bit nerve-racking to consider updating, is your websites’ version of PHP. From version 5.6 to 7.2, page speed has drastically increased.
There was a major WordPress update in December 2018 and a number of newer versions since then. Making sure that your plugins are compatible with the newest version of WordPress and the newest versions of PHP is essential in keeping your site up and running quickly.
There are a lot of factors that go into website speed! Making sure that you are attending to each of the big offenders will help to increase site traffic, reduce your bounce rate, and create a user-experience that you are proud of. While some of these you can do on your own, you may need to speak to your development team to handles items like minifying files and updating versions of WordPress and PHP. Check your site often and don’t get complacent. If everything looks today, check again next quarter to see if any updates affected it.