Not sure why your online business is not as competitive as you’d like it to be? Or maybe you’re experiencing conversion rate loss, especially during peak times? One of the reasons why you could be losing potential customers is poor website performance.
Sadly, nowadays, potential clients won’t wait even a few seconds for you – they have way too many alternatives available at their fingertips. Luckily, most website performance problems stem from poor optimization and infrastructure – all of which can be improved easily. Let’s see how to do that!
Take Advantage of the Cloud
The first thing you need to take care of if you want to improve the performance of your website dramatically is a quality hosting environment. No on-site performance optimization will help you if the core infrastructure fails to deliver.
This is where most e-business owners get tricked – enticed by the ads, they start to believe that a $1/month shared hosting package is enough to accommodate a growing (and successful) business. The truth is, if you want a website that delivers quality user experience, you need exclusive access to resources on a fast machine. How to get those?
The easiest (and most affordable way) is to pick a cloud hosting plan. The benefits of one are that you don’t share the RAM or CPU power with anyone, so the performance of your site will never be affected by other server users. Plus, while it costs slightly more compared to the cheapest hosting packages, it’s still a lot more affordable than a dedicated server. And, as you know, when running a business, you need to optimize lots of things – expenses included!
Reduce the Size of Your Website Elements
The second reason many websites work slow is the size of various elements – such as images or code – that they present to their visitors. And while those using 100+Mbps connection will barely notice that, the average connection speed is 1/4th that.
This means that the loading time of an unoptimized site can take between 5 to 10 seconds (or even longer), which is way more than acceptable. Not to mention that many people are on limited data plans, and they don’t want to waste a big portion of it just to see your site.
How to optimize those? The easiest way of doing that is passing them through tools such as TinyPNG – which can reduce their size by up to 75% – at no charge. Another great option (for those using WordPress) is the Smush plugin, allowing you to bulk reduce the size of images (up to 50 in the free version) that are already on your site, and automatically optimizing those getting uploaded.
And what about the code? The good news is, you don’t have to dig in it yourself to optimize it, and the whole process can be automated. What you want to do is minify all the common code files – CSS, HTML and JS. What is minification? It’s the process of removing all the annotations added by developers, as well as other unnecessary characters without affecting the site’s functionality. All you need (if you’re using WordPress) is a simple plugin – such as the free Fast Velocity Minify.
Eliminate Unnecessary Website Effects
On top of reducing the size of images and code, it’s worth looking into what’s going on your website. For example, if the first thing that your visitors are forced to see is a huge slider, it’s best to get rid of it. Not only it’s resource consuming, meaning it’ll affect your site’s speed, but it might also harm your conversion rate.
Of course, sliders are not the only thing that can slow down your site. Using videos? Turn off the auto-play. Collecting emails? Delay the opt-ins – let the critical elements load first. Look into unused elements or plugins that are on your site – if you aren’t using something, it’s worth deleting it. Even inactive elements can affect the performance of your site.
Ask Your Web Host to Enable Gzip Compression
Gzip compression is the key to minimizing the number of HTTP requests (the requests the browser sends asking for web elements), which can have a critical impact on the server response time and, as a result, page loading time. How does it work?
Gzip compression is quite like a standard compression where certain files on your website get compressed in a zip file. That way, your browser doesn’t have to request each of them separately and can “ask for them in bulk”. Once the archive gets accessed, it then gets unzipped automatically.
Naturally, there are more steps to website performance optimization. But the 4 listed here can give you the highest return on the time spent (especially #1). Once you do all four, it’s worth testing your site with tools such as GTMetrix or Pingdom to see what else could be improved – and following the recommendations step by step. As you’ll soon see, getting a fast website is easier than you think – and the benefits of one (improved UX and higher conversion rates) can have a huge positive impact on the revenue of your business.