Improving Your Website Performance

Website Optimization Series Part 4 - Improving Your Website Performance

[Continued from Part 3: Using Web Metrics to Improve Your Website]

Improving Website Performance

More than ever, your Website's performance matters. The average online shopper expects your pages to load in two seconds or less, down from four seconds in 2006; after three seconds, up to 40% will abandon your site. And it's no longer just your customers you need to worry about when it comes to page load times. Google now takes Website performance into consideration when assigning you a rank. What does this all mean? It means you need to pay special attention to your Website's speed too. Don't worry, most site speed optimizations aren't too difficult to implement.

Web Hosting Does Matter!

Firstly take a look at your hosting company. Does it deliver your Website quickly and reliably? Hosting companies that use shared hosting platforms or VPS's can often run slower that sites running on dedicated hosting servers with higher bandwidths. Choosing the best hosting option your budget permits is the first step.

Pay Attention to Your Image(s)

Next, examine the various photos and images in use on your Website. JPEG images should be compressed as much as possible while not compromising quality. Whenever possible, do not use HTML to scale images. Images should be pre-sized to their required dimensions to save bandwidth.

Small graphics and icons can be combined together as a sprite and delivered to the browser as a single image. Using image sprites is especially important as it reduces the HTTP requests made by the Website, a large factor in its delivery speed.

Scripts Are For More Than Theatre

Finally, have a look at the external script, css and XML files you site uses. If your hosting company supports it, these files can be automatically compressed for faster delivery. If compression is not available, you can try minifying these files or even combining them into a single file. There are many free services online which will do this task for you.

If you are REALLY devoted to saving every last kilobyte possible, there are other speed optimizations you can explore:

  • Expired headers on files and images
  • Reducing DNS lookups (reducing number of dependent off-site scripts/files)
  • Reducing cookies or configuring for cookie-free domains

Don't Underestimate Page Speed

Learn how to Improve Your Website Performance (because it REALLY does matter!)

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Google now offers an excellent tool called Page Speed which can be used to evaluate your Website for free. It's offered for use as a plug-in for Chrome or the Web version can be used in any browser.

A fast Website helps to keep your users engaged, improves your abandonment rate and it can help your Search Engine ranking. Follow these steps and get your Website into overdrive!

Take Your Site to the Next Level

» Learn more by visiting Custom Fit's website optimization services.

Robert Valcourt
Mar 14, 2012
By Robert Valcourt

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