Don’t let clunky design and coding disasters slow down your website!
It’s tempting when creating a new website to throw everything but the kitchen sink at it. Disarmed by the excitement of creating a completely new site, people often forget that every single byte of data has to be downloaded and displayed separately on each visitor’s device. Superfast broadband is still an aspiration rather than a reality for most of us, and few things are more aggravating for potential customers than a website that takes ages to download.
Visual bells and programming whistles might create a stylish aesthetic, but they’ll do more harm than good if sluggish download speeds drive visitors towards competitor websites in frustration. Search engines now give higher rankings to websites with rapid download times, which is understandable since the majority of internet traffic comes from mobile devices rather than desktop computers.
Here are five tips everyone should consider when creating a new website to ensure that the finished product minimises bandwidth requirements and displays quickly even on older 3G mobile handsets:
- Minimise image file sizes.
Many people are completely ignorant about how much bandwidth modern images require. A RAW file can easily occupy 15MB, and even today’s smartphones save several megabytes of data with every photo. High-res images can be compressed to a fraction of their original file size without significantly diminishing their appearance – a process known as lossless compression. If it’s essential that users can see an image in its original high-res format, upload a hyperlinked thumbnail that can download the complete file on request. Always use JPG or PNG files, rather than bandwidth-hungry BMPs or TIFs.
2. Eliminate unnecessary code.
It’s often surprising how much superfluous code appears during the web coding process. Every line and instruction has to be downloaded (while increasing the processing time required by the recipient device), so consider whether anything can be streamlined or eliminated. For instance, CSS code can negate having to upload background images, while deleting HTML comments and tags will trim the code without having a discernible impact on how it displays.
3. Compress files using GZip.
GZip is an ingenious Apache module, suitable for Windows and Unix/Linux users. It compresses web content into a ZIP format (which all modern browsers should be able to understand), slashing download times. Although this is recommended for most users, older or less powerful devices may have to invest considerable hardware resources in decoding GZip content. Ironically, this will increase the overall time it takes to display a web page.
4. Avoid plugins
From autoplaying media content to out-of-date plugins, websites with additional coding requirements can unnecessarily tax internet bandwidth. WordPress sites are notorious for this, so run the P3 plugin to identify the impact of other plugins on a site’s loading time. Install social media buttons rather than social-sharing plugins, and regularly check that any installed plugins are (a) essential to the site’s operation, (b) only active on relevant pages, and (c) still the most up-to-date method of achieving that particular result. The more plugins a site uses, the greater the risk of software conflicts delaying or preventing content from displaying effectively – or at all.
5. Embed files from third-party websites.
Hosting graphical content on your website will impact on the available bandwidth every time it’s accessed, but there is a workaround. Rather than uploading a YouTube video onto your site, embed the URL so that YouTube provides the bandwidth. Instead of having high-res images on your server, upload it to Photobucket or Imageshack. just two of many free hosting companies who can store and display files on your behalf. These companies typically have huge amounts of available bandwidth, so they can display content on your site very rapidly.
UK2 can provide high bandwidth website hosting solutions to cater for your demands. Check out our dedicated server specs for something which packs a powerful punch!