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Tips to Speed Website Load Time

Posted on 5.22.2013

How long do you wait for service at a restaurant? Does the likelihood that you will leave increase the longer you wait? Of course it does and it’s no different for consumers visiting sites on the Web.

In fact, Internet users have even less tolerance now for slow loading websites than ever before. 

The average website load time (for all elements to properly render) is approximately ten seconds – remember, that’s the average! Some sites are slower of course (but you likely never visit them because of the poor experience) and many are much faster and is likely one of the reasons you return to them repeatedly. In order to become a digital success, your website need to make sure that users aren’t waiting around for what they need.

Website Magazine addresses design and development (and how to build and maintain rocket-fast loading sites) in every print issue (receive a free subscription here) and regularly in our Design & Development Digest channel online. Below are several tips, from the basic to the advanced, to reduce your website’s load time and help your enterprise accelerate its Web success today:

WAIT! How does your website compare? Check out InternetSupervision.com to see just how fast your website really is and how long users may be waiting in different locations around the world.

Basic: Optimize Images

Images (e.g. graphics and photos) are one of the primary causes of slow loading websites. When websites are designed, make sure to use Web-friendly image file formats (.png, or .gif) and are at a reasonable size (no more than 30 to 50 kilobytes each (at the absolute maximum. There are many web services available, many of which you can discover within Website Magazine, that crunch or “smush” images to an optimal size.

Intermediate: Clean Code

Poorly constructed websites are another major obstacle to reducing high website load times. While the rapid adoption of CSS (cascading style sheets) and better content management software systems have helped websites accelerate their load time, there remain instances when badly designed code (broken tables, etc.) are in place. Periodically spot-checking websites to understand the user-experience when visiting your site is of paramount importance.

Advanced: Everything Else

Small images and clean code are great first steps, but they should not be the last ones you take. An entire digital industry has emerged around Web and application performance and the technologies and individual techniques that Internet professionals use to create optimal Web experiences are becoming increasingly sophisticated by the day – from avoiding unnecessary DOM elements, to using Expires and Cache-Control headers, along with G-Zip are just some of the options available to those serious about accelerating not just their website, but their ‘Net success.

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