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5 things you should do to make your websites faster

‘Speed is of the essence’ it’s a common phrase that we use frequently, and never more so has it been so relevant than when referring to websites, especially but not exclusively ecommerce websites. You may not realise the impact of website speed, but your online customers certainly do and consciously react to it in a way that tangible affects your business. Lots of research has been done on customer behaviours and it’s correlation with website speed. In fact a 1-second delay in page load time can result in:

• 11% fewer page views
• 16% reduction in user satisfaction
• 7% loss in conversion (source: Aberdeen Group). That’s the conversion from browsing to buying.

Additionally, Amazon found that for every 100 milliseconds improvement it made to their site speed, there was a reported 1% increase in revenue. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – nearly 50% of online users expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. That’s all it takes before they abandon pages, carts and purchases and potentially choose not to return or recommend.

So that’s why this week we’re dedicating some space to give you our Top Five Tips on things you should do to improve your ecommerce website design and speed:

1.Browser Caching

when a user visits your website they initially have to download the HTML document, stylesheets, javascript files, images and a whole host of things before they first view your site. However, they store most of this in a hard drive cache or temporary storage. So subsequent visits only need to load a fraction of this – making it quicker. So enable your browser caching.

2.Compression

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The average size of a large web page is about 100kb or more, so in web space and page load terms they are quite bulky and sluggish to download. A great way to improve this is to use compression, by zipping them, the same way you would large folders and files you save on your own PC. Compression in this case reduces the bandwidth of your pages and reduces the HTTP response and load time. A great tool for effectively helping with this is Gzip.

3.Minimize HTTP requests

This is a big one. Most web page load time is spent downloading the individual elements of the page; images, stylesheets, Flash, scripts and so forth. Each of these elements requires an HTTP request to be made. So streamlining the number of elements is a great way to help with improving this. For example you can use multiple stylesheets, or use CSS instead of images in places

4.Minify Resources

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Messy code is sometimes unavoidable, but often there are additional spaces, line breaks and indentations which equate ultimately to wasted time in load terms. There are a few helpful minifying tools out there that can analyse you code and generate an optimized version. For HTML you can try PageSpeed Insights Chrome Extension, to minify CSS you can use YUI Compressor and Cssmin.js, to minify Javascript, you can opt for the Closure Compiler or JSMin.

5.Use external CSS delivery

CSS broadly speaking hold the style requirements for your page. Your website accesses this information via either an external page which loads before your page does or ‘inline’ which is inserted in the HTML coding of the document itself. The external is usually in the header of the code and the inline is nested within the coding – the latter can be messy, long and convoluted. So opt for a single external style sheet as it reduced the size of your code and avoids code duplication.

These tips are bound to improve your website load time. And if you want to understand and track the improvement and it’s impact there are lots of page speed insight tools out there to measure and analyse where your page can be improved and how long it is taking to load. But we’re always on the search for new and improved techniques to help you. So keep watching this space for more advice.

Posted on 22 Apr 2014