40% of online consumers will abandon your website if it takes 3 or more seconds to load.

Website performance optimization

Nowadays, we live in the age of instant results. Instant updates, rapid downloads, 5 minute meals etc. Anything short of instant is considered expendable.

These are the expectations for every consumer, when it comes to their online user experience. Regardless of the device used to access information, a customer expects instantaneous information.

Speaking of devices, back in 2010 Google said that page speed was a ranking factor but it was ONLY focused on desktop. Starting in July 2018 Google started using mobile page speed as a ranking factor in indexing your site on mobile search results.

Therefore, today in 2019, bloggers, online businesses, web developers and designers are working to build websites that are fully optimized not only for desktops, but more so for mobile devices.

Why spend time on mobile device optimization?

According to Stone Temple, in 2018, 58% of site visits came from mobile devices and this number is expected to grow as time goes by. This means more and more people are spending time on their smartphones browsing the world wide web. Therefore, optimizing your website for mobile devices should be at the top of your list if you want to gain more traffic and sales to your website.

In fact, approximately 50% of online users expect websites to load in 2 seconds or less and 40% will abandon a page that takes 3 or more seconds. This is one of the key factors most online businesses lose customers and potential sales. 

So, how fast does your website load on mobile? 

Google has a free online tool, PageSpeed Insights that will give you an inside look into this. 

Once you run a diagnostic of your website on PageSpeed Insights , the first metric you will see under Lab Data is the First Contentful Paint. This is the time at which the first text or image is painted onto your screen. 

Therefore as a blogger or online business, in order to maintain fast loading content, then focus on delivering above the fold content in 2 seconds or less.

So, what exactly are we going to do to improve your mobile and desktop page speed?

GTmetrix, one of the most trusted sites for checking your website speed and performance offers you suggestions on the areas you need to improve on. Some of the top issues include:

  • Optimize images

The number one issue with slow loading pages is large and bulky media files. It’s best practice to serve responsive images. Whenever you upload an image to your WordPress media library, it is stored in its original size as well as three copies; thumbnail, medium and large. It is up to you to specify which version of the image should be used. Also, remember to resize your images prior to uploading them and make use of image optimization plugins such as Short Pixel and WP Smush.

  • Minify JS, CSS and HTML files

Minification is the process of eliminating the unnecessary lines of code in your web pages such as spaces and comments. While it is considered good practice to space and properly comment your code so as to help third party developers understand your work, it is cumbersome when it comes to loading the web page. Spacing and commenting adds to the file size and takes the web browser longer to parse your files thereby slowing down your loading time.

  • Defer parsing of javascript

In order to load a page, the browser must parse the contents of all <script> tags, which adds additional time to the page load. By minimizing the amount of JavaScript needed to render the page, and deferring parsing of unneeded JavaScript until it needs to be executed, you can reduce the initial load time of your page.

  • Leverage browser caching

Caching greatly contributes in determining your page load time. Caching is a data storing technique that provides an efficient way to access data quickly. Every time the browser requests for a resource, that resource is stored in your local hard drive for a specific amount of time. Therefore, when you try to access that resource again, the browser quickly fetches it from the local hard drive instead of the server, making your load time much faster. 

  • Use a Content Delivery Network

A content delivery network (CDN) refers to a geographically distributed group of servers that work together to provide fast delivery of Internet content. CDNs can give an equally fast web experience to your users across the globe.

  • Eliminate render-blocking resources

When you load your WordPress website a series of events must take place in order to render (display) the requested web page. Optimizing these events may tremendously improve your page load time.

The most common render blocking resources that our websites encounter are CSS and JavaScript files. Therefore it is important to determine what resources are critical for a web page to be displayed, and load them first.

  • Reduce server response times

The server is responsible for delivering files that form web pages. Server response time is the time the server takes to respond to a request from the browser. ​

Some of the factors that may be affecting your server response time include your web hosting, web traffic and website resources.

The more traffic your website is receiving, the more resources are being used. Which means that your server has to work double the time it usually does to satisfy all the requests it is receiving. 

To solve this problem, you may need to upgrade to a faster hosting option. Most of us usually opt for cheaper hosting when we are starting out. For a while, this might work for you, but eventually you may need to upgrade to better hosting (that might cost more) either from a shared hosting service like Bluehost to a VPS or Dedicated hosting service.

  • Clean up WordPress dashboard and database

Many times we install themes and plugins, test them and then forget to deactivate or delete them once we are done. Every time you install a plugin, a separate folder is created in your server for that plugin, which means it is taking up space in your server and adding more code to your browser. That is more code to process which eventually leads to slow speeds. Therefore ensure only required themes and plugins are installed at a time.

In addition, its advisable to delete all posts and pages that are not relevant. Once deleted, be sure to empty your trash to ensure a lighter and more efficient dashboard.

  • Keep external scripts to a minimum

External scripts are either JavaScript or CSS files that are located in a different file from the main html file. For a webpage to be displayed, each of these script files have to be downloaded by the browser and parsed separately. If you have several such files, then this will greatly slow down your website.

The best solution is to combine these files. Autoptimize is a free WordPress plugin that can help you achieve this.

  • Enable gzip compression

Reduce the size of files sent from your server to increase the speed to which they are transferred to the browser.

What to expect after optimization

There is alot of information on the internet when it comes to performance optimization. Everyone is recommending different plugins and solutions to achieving the optimum performance level. But who to listen to?

One major mistake people make is installing unnecessary plugins that could potentially slow their websites down even more or even break their websites in some cases.

With the right tools and knowledge on performance optimization, you can achieve a fast loading site. Before optimizing our website, it took approximately 10 mortifying seconds to load a page. The page speed score was at 52 and Yslow score at 45.

Here is our latest report from GTmetrix.

Do you need help optimizing your website?

Everyday, we strive to learn new ways to optimize website performance, and are always up to date with Google’s new tools and recommendations of doing so. If mere seconds is all it takes for a potential client to click away from your website, then allow us to take the business of optimizing your website out of your hands. It shall be done professionally and in the right way. 

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