“Patience is a virtue” is a saying that pertains to practically everything in life. When it comes to the Internet however, patience doesn’t last very long. A 1-second delay in page load time can mean 11% fewer page visits, 7% loss in conversions and 16% decrease in customer satisfaction1. In fact, 57% of online consumers will abandon a site after waiting 3 seconds for a page to load2.
As you can see, website speed can be a killer for the performance of your site. If you can address these issues and decrease your page load times, it can lead to better results.
In 2007, Shopzilla, a leading comparison-shopping service, realized that their site was too slow for their users. So they decided to optimize their site for speed.
When Shopzilla sped up its average page load time from 6 seconds to 1.2 seconds they experienced a 12% increase in revenue and a 25% increase in page views3. Similarly, Yahoo found that for every 400 milliseconds of improvement they increased traffic by 5-9%4. Additionally, faster load times also help boost search engine rankings.
Tools To Evaluate Your Website’s Speed
There are several great tools and web services out there that will evaluate your website and give recommendations for improving it. One tool that is easy to use and delivers great analysis is Google’s Page Speed Insights. This platform is simple and effective, with just a drop of a URL into the text box and a click of a button you’ll get your report. The report provides a summary of the areas where your site excels in and areas where it can improve. Suggestions for performance are broken down into red, yellow and green symbols to notify you of areas that can be optimized. Other great tools you can use are YSlow and Pingdom Website Speed Test.
Once you have diagnosed the problem areas, you will then need to resolve them. Likewise, here’s a list of simple solutions that you can look into and implement yourself to speed up your website.
WordPress Plugins To Improve Your Website’s Speed
1) HTTP Compression
If a browser supports compression, then a blog using HTTP Compression plugin will compress pages in gzip format. This can potentially render a 60-80% reduction in the size of your page5. That much of a reduction can lead to 3 to 4 second increases in page speed. As I stated earlier, any kind of speed optimization is essential for your site and your visitors. To be able to implement this plugin on your site you must have the latest version of WordPress. To check if your site supports “gzip compression”, insert your url into http://ismyblogworking.com/ and it will provide you with the necessary information. If the error message, “Your blog application doesn’t support gzip compression” shows up, then you probably need to install the latest WordPress version. A quick warning, make sure your current WordPress theme is compatible with the newest version of WordPress because if it isn’t, updating WordPress could break your entire website. And that isn’t reversible.
2) WP Super Cache
Another plugin that can speed up your site is the WP Super Cache plugin. This plugin is perfect for when you experience a surprising amount of traffic in a short amount of time. It also helps when your server is underpowered. In technical jargon, it creates static HTML files that are served instead of the heavier PHP scripts in WordPress. However, this plugin does not work with the HTTP Compression.
Don’t Forget To Kill Useless Plugins
When you have several plugins that aren’t being used it can severely hinder the performance of your site. So make sure you delete any plugin that is not required and only keep essential ones.
Handling Web Images
Images add great aesthetics and value to your website. However, if they are not properly optimized it can lead to slower load page times. That’s not what we want. So here are a few plugins and practices you can implement to compress large images that are utilizing unpredictable amounts of bandwidths.
This plugin uses optimization techniques that will remove unnecessary bytes from image files. This tool will not harm any of the images you have on your site. It will not change the look or visual quality. After Smush.it runs on a web page it reports how many bytes would be saved by optimizing the page’s images and provides a downloadable zip file with the minimized image files.
2) Combine images with CSS sprites
To increase website speed, you can also use the practice of combining images with CSS sprites. If you have many images on your page, then you are forcing multiple roundtrips of the server to get all the resources secured. This slows down page speed. Sprites combine all background images on a page into a single image. You can use a service like SpriteMe to make this process easy. They give step by step direction to implement CSS sprites on your site.
No matter how you choose to reduce your website’s load time, do us a favor, don’t put it off. Site speed is a very important factor in search engine optimization and user experience. Don’t downplay it and give your website’s speed the attention it needs!
1. StrangeLoopNetworks Infographic. “Visualizing Web Performance.” StrangeLoopNetworks. Retrieved October 7, 2013.(https://www.bixamedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/visualizing_web_performance_poster.jpg).
2. StrangeLoopNetworks Infographic. “Visualizing Web Performance.” StrangeLoopNetworks. Retrieved October 7, 2013.(https://www.bixamedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/visualizing_web_performance_poster.jpg).
3. Tammy Everts. “Everything You Wanted To Know About Web Performance.” Web Performance Today. June 15, 2010. Retrieved October 7, 2013. (http://www.webperformancetoday.com/2010/06/15/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-web-performance/).
4. Stoyan Stefanov. “YSlow 2.0 Presentation”. December 11, 2008. Retrieved October 7, 2013. (http://www.slideshare.net/stoyan/yslow-20-presentation).
5. Neil Patel. “10 WordPress Plugins For A Faster, More Search Friendly Blog.” March 1, 2012. Retrieved October 7, 2013. (http://www.quicksprout.com/2012/03/01/10-wordpress-plugins-for-a-faster-more-search-friendly-blog/).