Positive performance of your website is absolutely critical. How fast it loads, how it functions, and how it responds to the user is paramount. Why is performance so important? The speed of your site could be the deciding factor for a user to stay or go. Your website’s images may be beautiful, breathtaking even, but if it causes your site to take more than 1 second to load, you’re losing potential patients. And on a more important note, users are accessing the internet on their mobile phones more than any other device. What does this mean? You better have a website that responds and is optimized, or you’ll be losing even more users simply because your site isn’t performing well on a range of mobile devices. If this is the case, your content doesn’t matter much to the user who never discovers it.
What does this mean?
Compress them. How do you do that? If you’re using wordpress, there’s myriad plugins that will do this for you through the Content Management System (CMS). The one we use at MDPM is called EWWW Image Optimizer.
How does compressing images help a website load foster?
Imagine an assembly line that involved only people, no conveyor belts, no tracks, no machinery. This line exists to move bags of flour from one end of the factory to the other. The distance between ends of the factory is around 250 yards… Now, how long do you think it would take to move 1,000 bags, 10,000 bags, even 100,000 bags of flour from end to end, handing them off person-to-person?
I’ll spare you the math and logistics… A really long time.
This is how loading images on a website works. The user asks the server for the content on a given page (URL), and the server finds it for them and delivers it. If you have a lot of images, high resolution images, or both, there is more data to deliver, so it will take longer.
A website doesn’t show up all at once, as it may seem on fast connections/server response times. Each request is parsed into pieces, sent, and then rebuilt on the user’s side of the request.
So, if you could deliver 1,000 bags of flour via your assembly line instead of 10,000 bags of flour, and meet your goal, it would be a good day. This is what image compression does for users. It reduces the overall data size needed to deliver a website back to the user, thus reducing page load time.
Again, why is page load speed time important?
The first reason is the user. Check out this info graphic over at kissmetrics. It can give you some insight on the users attention span and how that affects your overall efforts on users.
External Resources Are Necessary But Avoidable.
Things like embedded videos, plugins, and flash (it hurst just writing that word) all create a longer load time for the user.
How do they create a heavier load time?
For embedded content, the user is relying on third party servers of the content to deliver the video or other items. Sometimes it can slow things down if the third party’s server doesn’t respond as well as the website’s server. This is the reason entire web pages can load and function, but it takes some time for a video to load fully on a page.
Plugins can run across all your website pages, or they can run on a specific few. This is a determining factor if your page load time is going to increase or decrease. If you use only the plugins you absolutely need to achieve your goals for your website, you should be safe. However, look for lighter alternatives as your knowledge about your website progresses. It can only help.
Flash. It’s heavy. It’s obsolete. Stay away from it at all costs. Nothing is worth going backwards in time to use flash. It’s not mobile compatible, and if around 80% of your users are using mobile, why would you use flash? It doesn’t make sense. Just, no.
Let’s dig deeper
Page Weight Reduction
Now that you’ve compressed your images, we can focus on the rest of your content. Simple things like bulky code, extra line breaks, and white space can cause your site to load slower.
How do you fix this?
Request that your developer reduce the amount of line breaks and white spaces in the code itself. The code does not need to look like a run on string from line to line, but ensure that you don’t have 3-15 breaks and spaces between each line of code. Nesting is fine, since it helps organize the code, but beyond that, keep it tight, and it will treat you right.
SIDE NOTE: code is poetry.
HTTP Caching, Leverage It!
A pretty great way to ensure your website loads fast is HTTP Caching. This allows for a website to offer cookies to users, so that if they visit the website again, they’ll already have a version of the site ready to load. It also involves setting time durations to “reload” the newest version of the site for the user upon a visit after that set time duration.
If you’re not interested in implementing these technical site performance suggestions, that’s OK. This is what MDPM Consulting enjoys doing for their clients. You aren’t alone when it comes to website performance, SEO, or website design.