We all know the frustration, we find a website that answers our problems but as soon as we try to load it. We get the infinite loading circle. Our computers are working away but nothing loads. What gives?

There’s an alarming amount of un-optimised websites that are the products of uneducated individuals.

Google recommends websites to have load times of under three seconds, and this is with good reason, 75% of shoppers said they would rather shop somewhere else than wait for their original site to load.

But, not only is a slow website annoying your customers, it’s impacting your bottom line.

We need to stop viewing the task of improving load times as an unneeded chore and instead think about it as possible revenue we could be earning.

I bet you’re motivated to improve it now.

Using a fast and reliable hosting company

I can’t stress how important this is. Using fast hosting providers will solve the majority of problems. The most significant gains in website load times come from changing hosts.

You can make all the possible optimisations to your website but if the servers are slow, old and infected with malware you’re asking for problems.

Instead, if we place our site on a fast hosting service, we are giving it the best chances of success.

You wouldn’t build your house on bad foundations so why would you put our website on bad servers?

It’ll cost more money to use better servers in the short term, but the future returns, outweigh the original costs.

Start caching

The most basic function of caching is browser caching.

Browser caching allows visitors of your site to store pieces of information and code inside of their browsers so when they revisit the site their browser will load files from the local cache rather than downloading completely fresh ones from the server.

The speed benefits here are obvious, especially if your web server is located halfway across the world.

Outside of browser caching, however, caching plugins can do many advanced features for site performance that I won’t cover now but if you’re interested, check out one of the two caching plugins I’ve listed below for more information.

Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network)

For many people starting out in the world of web development and hosting, they hear ‘CDN’ getting thrown about and wonder what’s so good about them. I know I did.

CDN’s are great for blogs and other content-heavy websites that have a significant amount of assets to deliver to visitors.

CDN’s allow you to place copies of your assets on servers all around the world. The real benefit with this is the reduction in distance between the visitor and a server containing your website’s assets.

With a CDN instead of having one server with all your assets, you now have hundreds which your visitors can download your assets. Therefore, dramatically lowering the load times.

To see the real benefit of a CDN, check out the infographic below from the people over at CloudFlare.

CloudFlare CDN example https://www.cloudflare.com/cdn/

If this intrigued you, then you should have a look at the two CDN’s that I recommend below.

Optimise Images

Images are usually the largest asset on a website excluding videos.

Often websites can get half their load times by simply reducing their image file sizes. I managed it with my website. I took my site from a two second load time to under a 1 second on average, just by optimising images.

You can use plugins to optimise your images by I find often they aren’t enough on their own. Personally, I use a three-step process.

  1. I resize my original image to the largest size needed for my theme (1100px width), and then I export it from Photoshop in a .jpg format with 60% quality. You will see the largest reduction in file size here but still, the smaller, the better.
  2. After this, I run the exported file through an online compression tool such as tinyjpg.com which will strip any information out of the image that Photoshop missed.
  3. Finally, after I have uploaded the file to my website, I will run a plugin like EZZZ Image Optimizer to further reduce the size of the file.

EWWW Image Optimizer

Typically, after doing this three-step process, I will have taken the original file from about 5+ MB and reduced it to <50KB. Making it quick to load while still retaining the quality.

Lazy Load Images

Even optimised images can take a while to load when there’s a lot of them, this is why it’s important only to load the images we need.

When we load a web page all the images on the page are loaded before the page is displayed, but this increases load times significantly.

Instead, what we should do is load only the images that are visible within the browser window allowing the web page to display quicker.

When the user scrolls down the page any images that were not originally visible are loaded and displayed when they enter the visible browser window.

The name of this process is ‘lazy loading’, and it’s super simple to install on your WordPress website. Just install the plugin below.

BJ Lazy Load

Using optimised themes

The way to prevent problems is to build on solid foundations from the beginning. When it comes to web development, this is things like A fast host, a good CDN and an optimised theme.

Often a lot of designs, especially ones built with some WordPress themes are poorly coded and loaded with too many bells and whistles that aren’t needed.

While it’s nice to have bells and whistles; all that code adds up. Especially, un-optimised or poorly made code.

Poor code within a theme is often a driving factor in slow load times, but unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to solve this, other than switch themes.

This is why it’s important to pick the right theme for the beginning. A well optimised and coded theme will be worth twice as much to you than the theme with all the extra bells and whistles.

In conclusion

Making a website with fast load times has many steps which can be expensive, but it’s worth it in the end.

The steps I’ve mentioned in this article are only the beginning; they’re simple ways that anyone could implement on their website with a bit of research beforehand.

However, there is a whole host of ways that are more advanced, but I’ll save these for another article.

In the end, it’s a lot of work to make your website load quickly but the impact it will have on your visitors, and your bottom line will make it well worth it.

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