One of the top reasons why people contact AME WebTech is to check out why their current website is running slowly, a lot of the time this coincides with an SEO exercise where the client has been told that the slowness of their website may have an adverse effect on their search engine ranking or that it is likely potential customer will be put off by how long their website takes to load,
We have found that a lot of the time the reasons a website is slow can be remedied with little cost, in this article we will identify the top reasons why a website may be running slow and explain how to improve the situation at little or no cost assuming you are happy to make the changes your self.
When images are displayed on a web page they need to be downloaded from the web server when these images are large this can take some time especially if there are numerous large images on that page.
With images being such an important component of almost every website they need to be loaded as quickly as possible.
The issue of large images is normally caused by the person uploading them not being aware of how large an image is or indeed how to compress them down in to a more manageable size as a general rule of thumb we normally advise that images that appear in content should be smaller then 256 kilobytes but how do you achieve this?
Firstly images on your website do not normally need to be massive; depending where the image is to be displayed it will only take up a set size on the screen, ensuring your images match these dimensions will ensure the image is the optimal size to fit in to that area for example if there is a box which is 500 by 500 pixels wide there is no point in putting an image that is 1000 by 1000 pixels wide whilst it may reduce in size on the screen to fit this area you are essentially downloading 4 times more pixels then what are needed so reducing the size of this image will reduce its load time by approx 75%.
Secondly all good image editing software will allow you to change the file format from one to another when saving the image JPG or JPEG files are great for displaying photos and complex image with lots of colours, PNG files are good when an image has transparent elements and if your image is simple with very few colours a GIF file may be suitable.
Using the correct file type is essential as it will store the image in a format that will minimise its size but also means that it will not appear grainy or with the wrong colours.
Finally when saving images most good image editing packages will allow you to set a compression level on the image especially for JPEG and PNG files, this essentially reduces the quality of the image however many images especially photos can be reduced to 35% of their original size with out loosing any or at least very little visual clarity.
Generally speaking this comes down to 3 reasons…
- The files are large and take a long time to load
- The scripts are slow to run once downloaded
Whilst most of these issues are not in the control of most individuals managing a websites content it is always worth asking your developers to audit these files and see if there is anything that is not needed.
Also remember that a lot of these scripts are loaded from third parties such as google analytics which once ran downloads a number of other files in order for it to work.
The chances are your website is stored on a server in a data centre somewhere in the world and is being managed by a company such as Google, Amazon or UK-Fast however if your website has been on this server for 3 or more years the chances are that it is time to upgrade your hosting… Why?
Every day advances are made with both software and hard ware, the software on your server is hopefully being periodically updated to keep it secure, however as time goes on the newer versions of software require more processing power, higher volumes of system memory and your current servers hardware was not designed to cope with the load.
Moving websites is generally a relatively simple process for any web developer and moving to a new server will mean your website is going to get the benefits of newer hard ware even is it is hosted in the cloud doing this kind of move will move you to a faster cloud environment.
The other side of the coin is your website is with a bad hosting provider, whilst cheap and it works it isn’t fast in which case we advise changing provider ASAP.
Having a good hosting provider will also ensure a better quality of backup and support that is likely to keep your website running faster for longer.
Caching reduces the amount of work your web server needs to do in order to deliver a web page, when someone visits your website your web server will generate the web page by making a number of calls to a database to get the content that appears on the page however most of the time pages do not change so once the page has been visited once it would be good if the server or external service was o save the output in to a cache; next time another person visits the same page the server checks the cache and simply sends the ready cached version of the page to the second visitors browser with out making a single database call.
This is a very simplified explanation of caching however reducing the work your server needs to do can greatly reduce the time it take to deliver pages.
The other advantage of CDN’s is that the content they deliver will be from a server that is closer the your visitor i.e. your web server is in Aylesbury and a someone is visiting your website from France; the html page would come from your server but everything else would come from a server in France of which they will have a much faster connection to thus making your website load much faster.
Caching is something that should be dealt with by someone who understands the technology however the speed gains are not to be taken likely and the cost to set this up is generally quite cheap for small websites.
Whilst not a common problem with most organisations websites subscribing to services that post Adverts in to areas of your website will cause your website to slow down, they can be exceptionally slow with their rich media content and animations which all adds more burden to your website when it is loading.
Our advice is to only have ads if you absolutely must and even then be prepared to take them off should they slow our site down.
Website speed is important whilst sometimes over stated as a reason for poor SEO performance it is a big factor in putting your sites visitors off browsing any further then the first page they land on.
At AME WebTech we use many techniques to improve website speed and consult with a wide range of website owners as to how they can get teir site running quicker, sometimes it is as simple as getting them in the habit of reducing their image sizes when they upload new content, sometimes a more technical solution is required such as CDN or setting up caching what ever the issue we are here to help and can offer a website review that will detail where the worst bottle necks or reasons for your website is running slow.