6 Tips to Improve Your Website Page Load Speed
If your website is an integral part of your business operations then page loading speed is something you can't afford to overlook. Slow load speeds can seriously hamper usability and severely limit customer engagement, and often times visitors won't return following a poor user experience.
Content management systems, like WordPress, for example, are undeniably excellent tools for organising and managing your website however over time, as with most things in the digital realm, the accumulative effects of adding and removing plugins and extensions, filling and purging of caches and the inevitable tweaking of settings can contribute to slow load speeds. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reverse the process.
Keep things up to date
Ask your host, if they haven't already and they deem it safe to do so, to update your version of PHP. This won't ensure your system is entirely optimised however each release is typically aimed at moving a step towards this goal.
Secondly, make sure that your content management system is up to date. New releases implement fixes for bugs and security flaws which may otherwise contribute to slow load speeds and, as mentioned above, is a step closer to a fully optimised system.
Enabling caching will probably yield the most dramatic improvement in page loading speeds of all the methods posted here. Simply, caching is analogous to the learning process, i.e. once you've learnt something you know the answer and would be able to repeat it if asked. Well, it's a similar story when somebody visits your website only this time instead of the answer to a problem, the cache is a copy of the html code of your website which can be loaded from memory instead of the server the next time the user visits your page.
Styling and elements
Java heavy style elements may look visually appealing in the theme store and on the first couple of visits to a new website, however ultimately they may not be as beneficial as you might think and can contribute to slow page load speeds. Perhaps the best example of this is sliders.
Some very prominent sources on web design are sceptical about their usefulness in terms of their ability to generate conversions and have also been critical on the basis of the detrimental affects they have on load speed. Whatever your particular stance, its worth a second thought.
The use of images
Images can be incredibly powerful selling tools, much more so than a text based description, however in order to strike the balance between website performance and a focus on selling they should be used strategically, as a feature or enhancement rather than being thrown at the page and expecting your viewers to sift through them for relevant information.
If your business operations require you to use a lot images on your pages then you might consider image compression as a means of reducing their size and thus minimising the impact on loading speeds.
Obviously, an important factor determining web site performance is the quality of your web host. So, if budget allows and its practical to do so consider swapping to a host with a reputation for being fast and secure, and importantly, although this isn't always easy to recognise, one who won't fill their servers to the brink in the name of maximising every last penny of profit - i.e. your looking for somebody who prioritises quality over quantity.
This is actually why we, at webhostgb.com, actively avoiding unlimited hosting packages (a recipe for oversold servers, and instead focusing on delivering the best quality hosting with clearly defined usage limitations.
Watch your theme
Premium themes, those which make use of virtually every widget imaginable, tend to be heavily burdened by the all of those scripts and styles which make it appear as flash as it looks. More slim line themes by comparison don't have this problem. So if it's practical to do so you might consider swapping themes to a more straightforward alternative.
Remember a positive user experience, of which page loading and overall site performance is a key part of, is vitally important for converting those impressions into sales and is well worth the investment of your time and effort.
I've tried to cover a variety of different tips and techniques in the hope that at least one or two will be applicable to somebody. There are further/different steps you can take if you've tried the above or for whatever reason you feel they're not applicable to you and i'll aim to outline a few more in a post at a later date.