Web Development Best Practice: Site Speed
Getting your website to its optimal load speed and maintaining it is crucial to maximising profit.
A recent Wall Street Journal study announced that sales at Amazon increase by 1% for every 100ms they shave off page load time. In this blog we share 5 development tips you can apply to speed up your website and improve page load time.
1. Get the right server
You can do everything to improve the speed of your website, but if your hosting isn’t up to scratch, your hard work will go to waste. People sometimes pick their server package based on price, the cheapest package is not always the best value decision. Choose your package based on the amount of traffic your site is likely to serve otherwise you may lose out on a lot of revenue when your site can’t cope with the traffic levels.
Another consideration is the server location. The closer the location of the server to your customers, the faster your site will be. This is down to latency; your customers have to make a connection to your server, if the majority of your customers are UK based and connect to a data centre in the US the interval between the response connection is far greater than to another UK based server.
2. Make sure to load webfonts asynchronously
Have you ever visited a page (especially on your phone) and it appears to have loaded slightly? You scroll but there’s no content. What feels like an eternity later (if you haven’t given up) the text appears. It’s because webfonts are blocking the content from showing.
Webfonts can be a huge burden on page load speed.
To avoid this you can load fonts asynchronously. This, in most instances, will have a big impact on site speed. Be aware, this can result in a ‘flash’ effect as the fallback font loads before the page fetches the defined font. Usually, with a little work, this can be prevented.
By loading fonts in this way, your users will not be left twiddling their thumbs waiting for your content to appear.
3. Carefully consider your tracking scripts
A newer version of the HTTP protocol has recently been released (which will change web development best practice – more on this in the near future). The benefits of adopting a HTTP/2 enabled server right now are relatively small but this will change over time and become very beneficial in the long term. HTTP/2 can load more assets without the restrictions of HTTP/1.1 protocol which can only load a set amount of assets at any one time. Note: All recent browsers require an SSL certificate to use HTTP/2.
5. Enable browser caching and gzip (or brotli)
Enabling caching has two main benefits; quicker page loads and less burden on your server. Enabling browser caching will greatly improve user experience for returning visitors; users download assets on their first visit to the site so do not need to download them again on (most) future visits.
Enabling gzip/brotli ensures the smallest possible file is sent to the user so assets reach them in the quickest time possible. A no brainer really.
By getting these fundamentals right you form strong foundations for your site. These tips can be implemented quickly, and will not have a huge impact on your/your developers work flow. However, they will have a noticeable impact on your site speed and user experience which, as we’ve seen with Amazon, can be great for improving conversions.