You always hear webmasters talking about how fast their site is and how they can speed it up even more. But why is that so important?
Why Speed Matters
If you’ve ever visited a website that takes forever to load, you know the answer to this. Visitors leave before you’ve even had a chance to convince them you have what they’re looking for. Google has taken this one step further by including it in their list of ranking factors.
So, how fast a page loads does really sort of matter. Not that 1/100ths of a second will make that big of a deal, but if you can improve your load time and your code, there’s no reason not to spend some time on it.
Tricks for Speeding Up Load Times
You can do tons of little things to speed up a page’s load time:
Caching — Plugins and tools such as WP Super Cache turn PHP into quick HTML, to ease the burden of heavy files and display pages faster. It’s effortless and only takes a few seconds to set up.
CSS Sprites — If you’re a little more familiar with code, or have someone available to help tweak your code, you can consider using CSS sprites. Basically, this trick combines all of your graphics into one file and positions them correctly using CSS.
Redirects — While often necessary, redirects can really inflate page load times. Save yourself and the visitors the time by eliminating them where possible. As an added benefit, you’ll also find you can deter people from linking to the wrong URL.
Use External Scripts
That way the browser already has it in it’s cache and won’t have to read it each time another page loads. This one saves a ton of load time, specially for larger scripts!
Split Up Long Pages – Multiple Short Pages Load Faster
By splitting up long pages into multiple pages you not only make the content show up faster but many people that see a very long scroll bar give up. Try breaking it up into more readable lengths.
Remove Excess “Whitespace”
Whitespace is the spaces between your coding, removing the unneeded tabs and spaces can help a lot. Doing this will take a lot of extra bytes off the total size of your page and will speed up load time quite a bit.
Images and Videos — These things can eat up a lot of resources too. Get rid of any that aren’t necessary (If your site is slow, a ton of ads in the sidebar is often the culprit). Then, compress and shrink them to the right size.
Analytics Programs — While extremely helpful and useful, analytics can take a long time to load up. Save yourself some headaches by eliminating the code for any analytics programs you’re not using.
Hardcode — While all the gidgets, widgets, and doodads can be really nice, they can also require a fair bit of time to load. By hardcoding things like the header, footer, and sidebars, you can eliminate this time by causing it to load with the rest of your site.
Databases — Just like trying to find something in a messy room, a messy database takes a lot of extra time to use. Clean it up, fix it, and optimize it regularly.
Tools and Resources You Might Find Helpful
Google Page Speed Tool — Google has a great set of tools here to help you speed things up a bit.
Google’s Page Speed Service — If you’d like to speed things up, but aren’t too keen on tinkering with it yourself, this could be a great option for you.
Best Practices for Speeding Up Your Web Site — From the Yahoo! Developer Network, this post is filled with all sorts of great ideas and how tos for speeding up your website. A must read, if you’re looking for ideas.
Web Page Analyzer — Another useful webiste which will help you to optimize your webiste.