Roundup of Page Speed Optimization Practices

Two Simple Techniques to Increase Website Speed

Why should you care about slow loading Web pages? The answer is simple - pages that take too long to fully load suffer from lower overall engagement and have a lower chance of achieving a competitive placement on search engines.

As the size and complexity of websites keeps increasing it becomes increasingly important for webmasters to engage in techniques to optimize the speed at which their website and Web pages load. While there are a few tricks to make it "seem" like Web pages aren't taking forever (e.g., user experience design techniques such as the use of skeleton screens), there's no replacement for employing now well established techniques to truly increase the real loading speed of a digital experience.

Before sharing some the actual techniques, do consider if a content delivery network or CDN can help. A CDN essentially transfers static files to servers that are closer to users requesting them, improving Web page load times - in some cases dramatically - in the process. While most appropriate for larger websites looking to make performance (speed) improvements, more and more website are using them as the cost is decreasing along with the complexity of use making them a feasible option for almost every website regardless of the software (content management or ecommerce system) they are using.

Page speed optimization can be complicated, but here are two very simple ways that websites can increase their loading times speed and improve users's digital experience, perhaps even their SEO rankings, in the process:

+ IMAGE OPTIMIZATION: Visual assets are notorious for slowing down Web pages but there are some simple and straightforward techniques that can be employed to prevent them from negatively impacting the user experience. Using the right format (JPGs for high quality images, PNG format for everything else - and avoid TIF's at all cost) is the first and arguably most important step. There are numerous solutions to help webmasters compress their images down to a respectable size.

+ CODE MINIFICATION: Despite designers' and developers' best intentions, CSS and JavaScript code can easily become bloated. Minification removes unnecessary characters (whitespace characters, new line characters, comments, block delimiters, etc.) and can improve the load time of web pages considerably. Minification can wreak havoc on design elements so make sure to test functionality and review appearance before going live.

There are still other approaches that can be used to reduce page loading times and increase website speed including leveraging browser caching (setting an expiry date or maximum age in the HTTP headers for static resources), improving server response time (which may require either switching Web hosting providers or working with the software platform to optimize resources), and removing any render-blocking JavaScript (one effective way without resorting to inline JavaScript is to make it asynchronous).

Increasing website speed is an ongoing process. The smartest and savviest thing you can do is to set a benchmark, understand what users are experiencing in terms of page load speeds, and continually work to make improvements.