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December 15, 2015

7 Ways to Boost Your Website Speed

Photo Credit: grid workings by olle svensson Licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

A recent study by Microsoft Corp that surveyed 2,000 participants and studied brain activity of 112 participants using electroencephalograms (EEGs), shows that our attention span is getting increasingly shorter; in the year 2000, the average human attention span was 12 seconds, but this has now dropped to eight seconds in 2015. In other words, our attention span is now shorter than that of a goldfish (a goldfish has an attention span of nine seconds).

What does human attention span have to do with your website speed? As data will show, A LOT; here are some interesting statistics about website speed that is worth paying attention to:

  • A one second delay in site loading time will cost your online business a seven percent decrease in conversions.
  • 47 percent of web users expect a web page to load in two seconds or less, and 40 percent of people will abandon a Web page that takes more than three seconds to load.
  • Slow websites cost the U.S. eCommerce market $504 billion in 2011.

Sources: Econsultancy & Speed Awareness Month

The year is quickly coming to an end, and if past research is anything to go by, than our attention span will continue to shorten; the shorter our attention span gets, the more impatient and intolerant of slow websites users will become. In short, if you want to build a successful business in this age, your website speed shouldn’t be an afterthought. Instead, it should be front-and-center as a part of your Web domination strategy.

Here are essential tips for boosting your website speed:

1. Get a Reliable Web Host

The very first thing to work on when trying to boost your website speed is your Web host; if your Web host is reliable, implementing other suggestions for boosting your website speed will be a breeze and they will yield results. If your Web host is unreliable, implementing other suggestions won’t make much of a difference.

In a Smashing Magazine piece, Marcus Taylor referenced a case study of two of his clients to show that a Web host influences website speed; it took seven milliseconds to connect to the site of his client that uses a reliable dedicated server, while it took 250 milliseconds to connect to the site of his client that uses a cheap shared host. That’s a massive difference.

Of course, what Web host you should use depends on a lot of factors, including your budget and needs, and shared hosts aren’t necessarily bad; great things have been said about Bluehost (a shared host), WP Engine (a managed host), and Umbrellar hosting (for those who want a server outside the U.S.). Needless to say, the hosts mentioned are just starting points, and a quick research will yield you other great options.

2. Remove/Optimize Tracking Codes

If you want to build a successful online business, you need to track; however, tracking shouldn’t get in the way of you delivering reliable service to your users. Too many tracking codes can negatively impact your site loading time, especially when the tracking codes are not installed asynchronously and the server of the site that enables the tracking goes down.

To make your site faster, only install essential tracking codes; also make sure that you install your tracking codes asynchronously, as this will ensure you’re safe should anything happen to the server of the tracking site.

3. GZIP Your Site

Many of us are familiar with ZIP technology; you take a massive 50mb file and compress it to a ZIP file, and the end result is a much smaller 5mb file. What if something similar can be done for your website? Well, it can be done.

GZIP automatically compresses your website files as ZIP files, significantly reducing the amount of data a user’s browser has to download when a user visits your website, and leading to a much faster experience. In the Smashing Magazine article referenced earlier in this article, Marcus Taylor reveals that GZIPPING a site was able to reduce the site size from 68kb to 13kb, significantly impacting the website speed; that’s incredible!

This guide from GTmetrix is a good start and shows you how to GZIP your site for better website speeds.

4. Optimize Your Images

Do you know that most images could be made much smaller without affecting the image quality; most images store important but unnecessary data, unnecessarily bloating the size of the image, and significantly impacting your website speed when a user tries to access your website.

By optimizing all images used on your site, you can reduce the size of your images while retaining their quality and this will lead to a much faster website.

Here are some tools to help you optimize your images:

5. Regularly Optimize and Clean Your Database

If you use WordPress, or other database-reliant CMSs, an increasingly bloated database could be slowing your websites; WordPress is heavily reliant on database, and most basic features and plugins rely on this to store data. Things like comments, post revisions, trackbacks, statistics and logs are stored in your database, and beside the fact that this can lead to making your website faster, it can make it a painful experience when trying to migrate your website.

Make sure to regularly optimize and clean up your database and you’ll boost your website speed; this can be done directly via phpMyAdmin or by using the WP-Optimize plugin if you use WordPress.

6. Configure All JavaScript Code to Use Asynchronous Delivery

You’ve probably heard about a Facebook downtime bringing down several sites, simply because they installed the Facebook like button on their website? Well, it happens all the time. And not just with Facebook. Whenever you enable synchronous delivery for tracking codes on your website, and the server of that tracking code goes down, it will tend to affect the speed of every page of your website that has that code installed. This applies to every JavaScript code as well, and the solution to this is to ensure that your codes are configured to use asynchronous delivery.

7. Enable Image Sprites

When you visit your favorite website and see the beautiful background image, and menu, it uses then it is most likely a combination of over a dozen different images sliced and diced to make the website functional; the problem with this is that a user’s browser has to request each of those images individually, even though they all contribute to one background image. While this happens behind the scenes, it can actually have an effect on your visitor’s website speed.

The solution to this problem is to enable image sprites; image sprites combine all your different background images into one, and it uses CSS to tell those images to operate properly. By doing this, you get the same functionality while reducing server requests and as a result boosting your site loading time.


Joseph Oni is a tech enthusiast and business expert who helps people build successful online businesses. When he is not writing, he is reading or watching movies.