Website Performance Optimization Tips – Part 1

As we know, website performance (speed and it’s response time) is a factor that affects Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Google and of all other search engines have confirmed that webpage speed is an important factor to search rankings as it benefits the user. No user likes browsing slow websites, think about yourself, would you prefer visiting a slow website? Unless the content is mind blowing, the site speed will be an inseparable factor in authority of a website. In this blog, we provide a couple of useful tips to improve the performance of your website.

Webpage elements have a great impact on the speed of a website, as mentioned by Prof. Steve Souders.

“…optimize front-end performance first, that’s where 80% or more of the end-user response time is spent”

- Prof. Steve Souders

Tips for identifying website performance deterioration:

  • Try to identify the reasons for your website being slow by using in-browser plugins such as YSlow and Page Speed.
  • Analyze the results and try to find out which type of components take substantial amount of time, while the webpage is loading.
  • Focus on delivering fast website, do not spend too much time on visual appeal of the website, as David Cheriton says in his book The Art of Computer Systems Performance Analysis.

“If it is [website] fast and ugly, they will use it and curse you; if it is slow, they will not use it.”

- David Cheriton

So let us see some methods for website performance optimization.

1. Use Compressed 2D Progressive Image Loading

Images are one of the most important, but bulky part of the website, optimizing them can do wonders to the page load times, especially if your webpages contain many images. You can use low quality files for small sized images as people tend to overlook their quality.

Progressive JPEG example.

Progressive images, as you can see in the example image, appear blurry at first but becomes clearer gradually. They appear to be loading faster than interlaced images, so it gives a sense of speed to the user. You can do better by utilizing the option of 2-D progressive image rendering in web browsers.

2. Enhance JavaScript and CSS Performance

CSS Sprites example.

Less number of CSS and JavaScript fragments can help in decreasing the website load times. CSSCompressor is a good tool for compressing your CSS files, which saves a lot of bandwidth. Also minimize JavaScript files, use the JavaScript libraries such as jQuery and mooTools.

Other than compressing CSS and JavaScript fragments, you should look at CSS Sprites which is a technique to combine images and show only the relevant part of the image when necessary. Combining small images into single image, will reduce HTTP calls to one, which otherwise would have been equal to number of small images, saving precious time and improving performance and memory usage.

3. Use Caching Systems in Web Browser and Servers

WP Super Cache plugin for WordPress.

There are a number of tools for content management systems such as WordPress, Joomla for caching the web contents. For WordPress you can use plugins such as WP Super Cache or Hyper Cache.

Browser cache usage in conjunction with CMS cache mechanism will further boost your website performance.
All modern web browsers maintain a cache of files for visited webpages, so on your next visit to those pages, static elements like images, CSS, JavaScripts will be retrieved from the browser cache rather than online web server.

4. Use Content Delivery Network

Content Delivery Networks (CDN) are a group of geographically distributed servers which delivers cached content of the website to visitors based on their geographic locations, so that there is minimum latency and response time.

Working of Content Delivery Networks.

If your website serves across geography, you can use CDN from Akamai Technologies or Amazon CloudFront to take the load out of your servers. They will cache webpages during the first access into their edge servers and the subsequent request from same geography will be served from the cached copy. For some websites, usage of CDN improves performance upto 70-80%.

CDNs are a cluster of distributed servers deployed at various locations globally, which cache your pre-processed webpages or sometimes only static elements. Nearest located server will be serving the request. Even big brands such as Apple Inc. use CDNs from Akamai Technologies for distribution of Mac OS X, iOS updates and iTunes.

5. Reduce HTTP file requests

More the number of file requests, more time it will take to load a page, so try and minimize the total number of file requests. Right from the start of website development, you must consider this criterion, which will bring down webpage rendering time.

Stay tuned for our next part on Website Performance and Speed Optimization, where we will deal with each aspects in detail, meanwhile you can refer to various articles to enhance the SEO of your website.

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