In today's fast-paced digital world, website performance plays a crucial role in attracting and retaining website visitors. A website that loads quickly, functions smoothly, and provides a good user experience is more likely to succeed than one that is slow, clunky, and frustrating to use. To help website owners optimise their website's performance, we've compiled a list of 10 proven strategies. From optimising images and minimizing HTTP requests to using caching and prioritising above-the-fold content, these strategies will help improve website speed, functionality, and user experience. Additionally, we'll cover other important aspects of website optimisation, including server optimisation, code optimisation for search engines, and the benefits of reducing plugins and scripts. By implementing these strategies, website owners can ensure their website is optimised for peak performance and provides a great user experience for their visitors.
Optimising images is an important aspect of website optimisation as images can take up a significant amount of page load time. Here are some ways to optimise images for web pages.
Compress images to reduce their file size, which in turn reduces the amount of time it takes for the image to load. Many tools are available online, such as TinyPNG, Kraken.io, or Compressor.io, that can compress your images without losing quality.
Use the right file format. JPEGs are best for photographs and images with many colours, while PNGs are better for images with transparency or fewer colours.
Resize images to fit the dimensions required for your website, as large images take longer to load and can slow down your website. You can use free image editors like GIMP, Canva, or PicMonkey to resize images.
Optimise image filenames using descriptive, keyword-rich filenames that can help improve SEO and make your images easier to find for search engines.
Minimise HTTP requests
Reducing the number of HTTP requests required to load a page can speed up its load time.
- Use CSS sprites: CSS sprites involve combining multiple images into a single image file, and then using CSS positioning to display the individual images. This reduces the number of HTTP requests needed to load the page.
- Use image maps: Image maps involve using a single image with multiple clickable areas, each with its own link. This can help reduce the number of HTTP requests needed to load multiple images.
Here's a brief explanation of how minification works for each of the three types of code:
- Minifying HTML: HTML code can often contain unnecessary whitespace, comments, and other characters that are not needed for the page to display correctly. Minifying HTML involves removing these unnecessary characters to reduce the file size of the HTML document.
- Minifying CSS: CSS code can also contain unnecessary characters, such as whitespace and comments. Minifying CSS involves removing these characters, as well as shortening the names of CSS classes and IDs to reduce the file size.
Minification can be done manually, by removing unnecessary characters from the code using a text editor, or automatically, using tools such as Grunt or Gulp. Minifying code can help improve website performance by reducing the size of files that need to be downloaded, which can result in faster page load times and a better user experience.
Optimise Your Server
Optimising a server for websites and web apps involves configuring the server hardware, software, and settings to improve website performance and user experience. This can be fairly complex and require specialist skills if you’re doing it yourself. Alternatively you can host you’re website with a provider that specialises in hosting for your specific platform. For example WPMU DEV specialise in WordPress hosting.
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
- Improved website performance: By caching website content in multiple locations around the world, a CDN can help reduce the time it takes for content to load, improving website performance and providing a better user experience.
- Reduced server load: By caching content on multiple servers, a CDN can help reduce the load on the origin server, improving website performance and reducing the risk of server crashes due to high traffic.
- Better availability: A CDN can improve website availability by automatically routing traffic to the closest available server. If one server goes down, traffic can be automatically rerouted to another server, reducing the risk of website downtime.
- Scalability: A CDN can help improve website scalability by allowing website owners to distribute website content across multiple servers, ensuring that website performance remains consistent, even during periods of high traffic.
- Cost savings: By reducing the load on the origin server, a CDN can help reduce hosting costs and improve website performance, making it a cost-effective solution for website owners.
Prioritise Above the Fold Content
Prioritising above-the-fold content is a technique used in website optimisation to improve the perceived speed of a website. Above-the-fold content refers to the content that is visible to users without scrolling down the page, while below-the-fold content is the content that is visible only after scrolling down the page. When a user loads a webpage, the browser first loads and displays the above-the-fold content before loading the below-the-fold content.
By prioritising above-the-fold content, website owners can improve the perceived speed of their website by ensuring that users see some content quickly, even if the entire page hasn't loaded yet. This can help improve user engagement, reduce bounce rates, and ultimately improve website performance.
To prioritise above-the-fold content, website owners can take several steps, including:
- Minimizing the amount of above-the-fold content: Reducing the amount of above-the-fold content can help improve page load times, allowing users to see the content more quickly.
- Optimising above-the-fold content: Optimising above-the-fold content, such as images and videos, can help reduce the time it takes for the content to load, improving the perceived speed of the website.
- Using lazy loading: Lazy loading is a technique where images and videos are only loaded when they are about to come into view. This can help improve page load times and reduce the amount of content that needs to be loaded upfront.
- Deferring non-critical scripts: Scripts that are not critical to the display of above-the-fold content can be deferred, allowing the browser to load the above-the-fold content more quickly.
By prioritising above-the-fold content, website owners can improve the perceived speed of their website, which can lead to improved user engagement, lower bounce rates, and ultimately improved website performance.
Optimise your website's code for search engines
Optimising your website's code for search engines is an important part of search engine optimisation (SEO). When search engines crawl your website, they analyze your website's code to understand the content and structure of your site. Here are some ways to optimise your website's code for search engines:
- Use descriptive title tags: Title tags provide a brief description of the content on a webpage and are displayed in search engine results pages (SERPs). Using descriptive and relevant title tags can help improve click-through rates and improve your website's search engine ranking.
- Use meta descriptions: Meta descriptions are short descriptions of the content on a webpage and are also displayed in SERPs. Using compelling and relevant meta descriptions can help improve click-through rates and improve your website's search engine ranking.
- Use header tags: Header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) provide structure to your content and make it easier for search engines to understand the content on your website. Using header tags also makes your content easier to read and understand for users.
- Use alt tags for images: Alt tags provide a description of images on your website and help search engines understand the content of your website. Using descriptive alt tags can also improve accessibility for users with visual impairments.
- Use schema markup: Schema markup is a form of structured data that provides additional information to search engines about the content on your website. Using schema markup can help improve your website's search engine ranking and increase visibility in SERPs.
- Minimise code bloat: Code bloat refers to excessive or unnecessary code on your website that can slow down page load times and make it harder for search engines to crawl and understand your website. Minimising code bloat can help improve page load times and improve your website's search engine ranking.
By optimising your website's code for search engines, you can improve your website's visibility in search engine results pages, drive more traffic to your site, and ultimately improve your website's performance. Check out our article on on page optimisation for further information.
Reduce the number of plugins and scripts
Reducing the number of plugins and scripts on a website can have several benefits, including:
- Improved website speed: The more plugins and scripts a website has, the more requests the website has to make to load those plugins and scripts. This can slow down the website's load time, leading to a poor user experience. By reducing the number of plugins and scripts, website owners can improve website speed and provide a better user experience.
- Improved website security: Plugins and scripts can create vulnerabilities on a website, making it easier for hackers to exploit and compromise the website. By reducing the number of plugins and scripts, website owners can reduce the attack surface of their website and improve website security.
- Improved website stability: Plugins and scripts can conflict with each other, causing errors and instability on a website. By reducing the number of plugins and scripts, website owners can reduce the risk of conflicts and improve website stability.
- Improved website maintenance: The more plugins and scripts a website has, the more maintenance they require. This can be time-consuming and costly, especially if plugins and scripts need to be updated frequently. By reducing the number of plugins and scripts, website owners can simplify website maintenance and reduce costs.
Overall, reducing the number of plugins and scripts on a website can help improve website speed, security, stability, and maintenance, leading to a better user experience and improved website performance. WordPress is notorious for plugins, one of the main reasons for our shift at Rule5Design from WordPress to Webflow is there are essentially no plugins in Webflow.
Conduct regular performance audits
Conducting regular performance audits on websites is an important part of maintaining optimal website performance. Here are some aspects of performance audits that website owners should consider:
- Website speed: Website speed is a critical factor in website performance. Slow website speed can negatively impact user experience and search engine rankings. Performance audits should evaluate website speed, identify any bottlenecks or areas of improvement, and provide recommendations for optimising website speed.
- Website functionality: Website functionality includes all the features and tools that a website provides to users. Performance audits should evaluate website functionality, identify any issues or bugs, and provide recommendations for improving website functionality.
- User experience: User experience (UX) is a critical factor in website performance. A good UX helps keep users engaged with the website and can increase conversion rates. Performance audits should evaluate UX, identify any usability issues, and provide recommendations for improving UX.
- Search engine optimisation (SEO): Search engine optimisation is the process of improving website visibility and ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs). Performance audits should evaluate SEO, identify any issues or opportunities for improvement, and provide recommendations for optimising website SEO.
- Security: Website security is a critical factor in website performance. A website that is not secure can be vulnerable to hacks and cyberattacks. Performance audits should evaluate website security, identify any vulnerabilities or risks, and provide recommendations for improving website security.
By conducting regular performance audits, website owners can identify areas of improvement and optimise their website performance. This can help provide a better user experience, increase website traffic and conversion rates, and improve website security.
Optimising a website's performance is crucial for success in today's digital landscape. By implementing the 10 proven strategies we've discussed, website owners can significantly improve website speed, functionality, and user experience. From optimising images and minimizing HTTP requests to using caching and prioritising above-the-fold content, these strategies will help website owners stay ahead of the competition and provide a better user experience for their visitors. Additionally, conducting regular performance audits and optimising servers and code for search engines can help ensure that a website continues to perform at its best. By taking these steps to optimise website performance, website owners can attract and retain visitors, increase website traffic and conversions, and ultimately achieve their online goals.