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Website Speed Optimization – A Practical Guide

How many times did you leave a website because of the slow speed? You can’t tell the exact number because it happens way too often. And the good news is that you’re not the only one who’s annoyed by slow website speeds. 79% of people say that they will not come back to a website with poor performance.

So to prevent that from happening to your website, read this guide on website speed optimization. We will discuss the main factors which affect website speed. We will also discuss the top tools for testing website speed and the fact that your website host can significantly impact your website if they are slow.

Let’s get started!

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Importance of Website Speed Optimization

If you have a slow website, then get ready for low conversation rates. To see how important website speed is, let’s look at some stats:

  • 47% of customers want a website to load in 2 seconds or less. Not only that, 40% of customers leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. (Neil Patel)
  • Slow website speed results in 11% fewer page views. (Crazzyegg)
  • Website loading speed is a significant factor in high Google rankings. (Backlinko)
  • It results in a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction (Crazzyegg).

These stats show that a slow website is a recipe for disaster. To improve website speed, you need to use a few tools:

Top Tools for Website Speed Optimization Testing

Google Pagespeed Insights

As the name suggests, this tool developed by Google is a dominant factor in improving your website speeds. By using this tool, you get reports for both mobile and desktop views. These reports also give you detailed recommendations that you can use to improve your website speed. In addition to that, it’s easy to use.

Google is the biggest search engine, so you should strive to get top Google rankings. Consider the problems found by this tool very seriously.

Lighthouse

This tool, also developed by Google, is straightforward to use. It gives you tons of performance and usability metrics. It is a feature in Google Chrome, so you will need to utilize that particular browser to use Lighthouse.

To access this Google Chrome Feature, select the three dots on the top right of the browsers window, and then select “More Tools > Developer Tools.” Once in “Developer Tools,” Lighthouse will be one of the options on the top bar (you will have to scroll to the last few options using the double arrows (>>.)

It tests your website under different scenarios like slow internet, slow mobile device speeds (3G, for example), and CPU throttling. Lighthouse then gives you a report on the performance under those circumstances. This highly useful tool also measures other metrics include search engine optimization, best practices, progressive web apps, and accessibility.

Gtmetrix

This website is also a useful tool for testing website speeds. It uses other tools like Pagespeed and YSlow and allows you to choose different geographic locations.

Its interface is user-friendly. To use it, you have to put the URL in, hit the “Analyze” button, and you get page speed, timings, performance score, and much more. These scores are broken down by type that makes them easier to understand for non-technical people.

Factors that Affect Website Speed Optimization

Factors that Affect Website Speed Optimization

Hosting Options

Your website host speed and reliability are two significant factors in website speed optimization. If you want to understand how vital a website host is, you need to look at how the web works.

Your website and all related files are present on a website host. When you enter your website URL in a browser, it sends a request to the website host to send a copy of your website. If the website host is slow, you’ll have a slower page, no matter how much you optimize it for performance.

There are three types of hosting solutions:

  • Shared hosting
  • VPS hosting
  • Dedicated server

Shared hosting is the most common option. This hosting type can be suitable initially, but you need to upgrade when you start getting more traffic. There’s a slight chance that the traffic spike from other websites on the shared server might affect your website speed.

If high traffic is slowing down your website, it’s time to invest in a VPS hosting or dedicated server. Keep in mind that these hosting options are more expensive than shared hosting, but they provide better results.

I would recommend Site Ground as I have recently switched hosting providers to them as well.

Plugins Effect Website Speed Optimization

The fewer plugins you have, the better it is because they need more resources to run. So, remove plugins not being used.

The best WordPress (My preferred way of creating websites) plugins for speed are Autoptimize and WP Rocket. I use both of them together, and it has helped me significantly.

WP Rocket helps in the following ways:

  • It helps minify files that help increase website speed. Minifying is the process of removing extra spaces, line breaks, and indentation from your code.
  • It also combines files, which is merely combining different JavaScript and CSS files into one file.
  • Deferring JavaScript loading is more manageable with WP Rocket, which means the other content can load quickly.

Autoptimize also focuses on optimizing website code that helps improve the site speed.

Pro Tip: Do not try to enable all settings all at once. Try the basic settings, then test your site before continuing with anything more advanced. One setting I used disabled my ability to create post snippets when posting my content to other websites. So always test and be careful.

Image Optimization

Do not use compression software for your images. Instead, use software like Photoshop in which you can decrease the size of the images without compromising the quality.

Make sure that all images have the right size for the webpage. The format should also be suitable for the images: JPEG format is correct for photographs, and PNGs work best for images with less than 16 colors.

You can also use CSS sprites to create templates for frequently used images like buttons and icons. This option decreases the number of HTTP requests, which will reduce the load time of your webpage.

Final Words on Website Speed Optimization

Slow websites put customers off. If they leave a website because of poor performance, they will not come back.

Hopefully, with today’s guide, your website will always be there to serve your customers.

So what tool do you use for website speed optimization? Let me know in the comments below.

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