Learn How to Improve Website Speeds Without Breaking the Bank

Does your page take longer than three seconds to load? If so, your website visitors will likely abandon your website.

Your website speed is more important today than ever. The modern web user has a short attention span and wants a website to load immediately.

If not, then a potential customer may abandon your website, resulting in a lost sale. Even worse, a slow website could bring a potential customer to a competitor’s website instead.

Here’s the million-dollar question — how do you speed up your website? Fortunately, improving your site speed doesn’t require a huge investment. You just need to know some simple tricks.

Here’s how to improve website speeds.

Minify Files

We’ll try to keep this explanation as easy as possible…

When your website loads, your browser has to make several requests — for every visitor.

Too many requests can increase your website speed. Fortunately, you can shorten the number of requests your site has to make. The best way to start is with your files.

The most important files dictate your site’s content and appearance. This is likely controlled by CSS, HTML, or Javascript files. Too many files add to your page size, resulting in longer load time.

You can minify these files to shorten your site’s loading time.

“Minify” means combine.

You can combine the files into one file for easier processing. The minifying process also removes white space, unnecessary formatting and extra code.

Minifying your files not only decreases the number of files but also decreases the file size.

How do you minify your files?

The method you use depends on your platform. If you’re on WordPress, there are free or cheap plugins that minify your files for you.

You can also use a variety of tools available online to improve website speeds — most of them are free.

Minimize HTTP Requests

HTTP requests are requests the browser makes to download the different aspects of your web page, such as images and content. There needs to be a separate HTTP request for each element.

Overall, the more style components on your page, the more requests needed to load them. This can slow down your website. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize your requests.

First, figure out how many requests your website needs to load. If you have Google Chrome, you can easily figure this out by using the Developer Tool.

If your website has over 75 requests, you can take measures to eliminate extra requests.

The easiest way to limit requests is by removing unnecessary media. Go through your website and take out any useless pictures, old content, and even unpopular pages.

Minifying your files, as stated in the previous section, can also decrease your HTTP requests.

Defer Javascript Loading

When several files are loading at the same time, your website loads slowly and may even fail to load.

You can avoid this with deferring Javascript files. Deferring means you prevent one file from loading until after other files load.

But why only defer Javascript files? Javascript files are large and are more than likely larger than your other files.

How do you defer Javascript files? Again, it depends on the platform you’re using.

There are tools, such as WordPress plugins, that help with this. You can also manipulate your code to use deferring commands — however, this is best done with the help of a developer.

Use Asynchronous Loading

As an alternative to deferring Javascript files, you can enable asynchronous loading. You can optimize this method if you minify your Javascript files. This helps them load at the same time.

Without asynchronous loading, your browser needs to load one request at a time. Since the files are smaller and/or combined, asynchronous loading is faster.

You can also optimize your CSS files for asynchronous loading. Like Javascript files, CSS files can also be large and can easily block other requests.

Keep in mind, you must also minify these files before optimizing CSS for asynchronous loading.

You can optimize your website for CSS/Javascript asynchronous loading by using plugins.

You can also create a style sheet detailing the asynchronous loading; however, this is best done by a professional developer.

Reduce Server Response Time

Why do we use URLs to look up website addresses as opposed to long IP addresses? This is all thanks to the DNS.

The domain name system (known as DNS) is a server filled with IP addresses and their hostnames.

In short, when you type in a URL, the DNS server translates the IP address and locates its position online.

Does this process take a long time? It depends on how fast your DNS provider is.

If you have a slow DNS provider, switch to a faster one to increase your server response time. Here’s a comparison of the fastest DNS providers.

Minimize Time to First Byte

What if your website loads quickly but it takes forever to actually start loading?

Your page probably has too big of a TTFB. TTFB stands for time to first byte. This time signifies the time it takes for your web page to get the first byte of data from the server.

How much should you TTFB be? Google recommends less than 200 milliseconds.

You can see how long your TTFB is by using Google’s developer tool or a third-party tool (which are usually free or cheap).

What if your TTFB is slow? There could be a few issues.

The issue could lie within your web server configuration, there could be network issues, too much dynamic content, and maybe your website is hosting too much traffic.

If your content is dynamic, try switching over to static content. If your website is experiencing too much traffic, try upgrading your website. The rest of the options are largely out of your control.

Run a Compression Audit

As stated previously, large files can compromise your loading speed. But decreasing these files to smaller sizes can result in loss of file quality.

So, how much can you compress your files without sacrificing quality? This is when you run a compression audit.

To run a compression audit, you’ll need the help of a third-party tool. You can find these online and most are free.

Type in your URL and the tool will state if your website has been compressed or not. If not, it will tell you the size of your web page.

From here, the tool will tell you how much you can compress each file.

Compressing your files can be a little tricky and it’s recommended you have a web development team at your side.

You must take your website files and compress them on your computer. Then you’ll place them back into your server, using either a cPanel file manager or an FTP client.

Upgrade Your Hosting

Does all of this advice sound too advanced for you? You can perform the simplest solution: upgrade your hosting. It’s easy to choose the cheapest and most basic hosting option.

As your website increases in popularity and you hold more data, you must upgrade to a different platform.

Your different hosting options are:

  • VPS hosting
  • Shared hosting
  • Dedicated server

Shared hosting is what you more than likely have. It’s the most popular hosting option because it’s the cheapest. You share your website server with different websites, which can result in slow loading times.

VPS hosting is a good option if you need advanced hosting but don’t want to break the bank.

You’re on a shared server but you have your own resources. As an example, VPS hosting is like living in a townhome. Your home is connected to different homes; however, they’re all separated.

But you may also require a dedicated server. You own your own server, which means faster loading speeds.

However, you’re also in charge of all maintenance and need a web developer and designer to create a website for you.

Enable Browser Caching

Elements from different websites are stored on your cache, which is temporary storage. This process can work to your advantage, specifically for reoccurring visitors and regular customers.

Browser caching remembers your web page components, preventing the process of sending another HTTP request. Enable this feature to improve web loading times for reoccurring visitors.

The way you enable browser caching depends on the platform you use. If you use WordPress, there are many plugin options and most are free.

Keep in mind, this option is best done for those who have a VPS server. For those on a shared server, enabling browser caching might slow down your website.

As another option, you can ask your web developer to implement browser caching into your website code.

Improve Website Speeds Today

From enabling browser cache to minifying your files, there are many ways to improve website speeds on a tight budget.

But there comes a time when you need to seek help from a professional web developer.

Take a look at our web development and design services.