Page loading times are one of the key factors used for ranking web pages in search engine results pages. They’re the first impression customers get about your online presence, even before any content has displayed. And contrary to popular opinion, they’re easy to improve upon. A new website can be fettled and honed prior to going live, with its performance tested in multiple browsers.
That said, an existing website doesn’t have to remain sluggish either. Audiences won’t wait more than a few seconds for content to start displaying, so time is of the essence. Below, we’ve listed a dozen ways to slash page loading times, without having to substantially change an existing website:
1. Switch hosting provider.
An inefficient shared server may struggle to meet multiple access requests. However, that’s not something UK2 clients have to worry about. Our hosting solutions also offer a 99.9 per cent service level agreement, providing peace of mind.
2. Use slick templates.
Few people write their own HTML any more, but not all template designs are created equal. Choose mobile-optimised designs which aren’t bogged down with unusual fonts, full-screen background graphics or parallax scrolling.
3. Use caching.
This won’t benefit first-time visitors to your homepage, but it’ll ensure that recurring site elements don’t require reloading on every subsequent page visit. Meanwhile, new content like blogs will be displayed when people revisit the page.
4. Compress media files.
Batch compression of graphics files is fine as long as they don’t look pixellated on a 1920×1080 monitor. Always choose the most efficient file format, such as JPGs and MP3s, which offer near-universal compatibility.
5. Increase white space.
Some people want to fill every inch of on-screen space, but it’s better to let web pages breathe. White space downloads very quickly, making it easier to see other content and giving visitors better browsing experience.
6. Streamline web code.
Tag clouds, redundant image placeholders, and unnecessary CSS all act as ballast. You might need expert advice about which chunks of website code to strip out, but future site visitors won’t miss these inefficient page elements.
7. Embed media files from third-party platforms.
Powered by the boundless resources of parent company Google, YouTube’s servers display content incredibly quickly. Instead of hosting video clips on your own server, embed them from third-party sites.
8. Prevent autoplaying.
Video content has to buffer before playing. This can be hugely damaging to page loading times since it competes for bandwidth against static content. Always pause video clips, displaying them with a compelling thumbnail.
9. Pare back plugins.
The WordPress framework has over 55,000 separate plugins. Only install something that’s essential for the site to operate. Some plugins are specifically designed to improve page loading times – Cloudflare, WP Smush, BJ Lazy Load, etc.
10. Avoid one-page websites.
Even with lazy loading (which only loads the visible part of webpage content at any given moment), one-page sites tend to be flabby. Split the site over subpages, ensuring that homepage content displays as quickly as possible.
11. Remove hover ads.
Interstitial adverts and overlays fill the screen until they’re actioned or closed. This increases loading times, and may also be ranked as the page’s main content. There are better ways to encourage people to sign up to mailing lists.
12. Pare back ecommerce portals.
Quicker checkouts maximise sales, so only request essential data like payment details. Allow people to check out as guests. Once they’ve completed a transaction, encourage them to register with an email address.