Hristo is cofounder and CEO of Scala Hosting and SPanel.io—a cloud-savvy, serial startup entrepreneur.
There are over a billion websites out there, with thousands more popping up every day. But gone are the days when you could just put up a simple page and watch it thrive. Everything is evolving, and site visitors are logically expecting more and more from their experience online.
Your pages need to look flashy, offer smooth navigation and have enough valuable content to keep users engaged—all while keeping the site as fast as possible.
In fact, site speed has been such an essential factor for online success that it pays to put extra effort into optimizing it to perfection.
Let’s learn how.
Improving site performance is the ultimate goal.
Saying that website speed is important for both webmasters and visitors would be an understatement. Users nowadays are so demanding that every millisecond counts.
• The first five seconds of your page loading times have the biggest impact on conversion rates.
• Forty percent of users leave pages that take more than three seconds to load.
• A website that takes one second to load brings three times more conversions compared to a page that takes five seconds or more.
• The average page load time for the top 100 websites is 2.5 seconds on desktop and 8.6 seconds on mobile.
• Pages with a load time of up to two seconds enjoy an average bounce rate of only 9%.
The verdict is clear: If you want to see your online project grow and thrive, you have to put a deep focus on its performance. Here are a few ways to do that.
1. Keep your code clean and efficient.
There’s a lot you can do here:
• Utilize proper caching methods.
• Reduce the number of HTTP requests.
• Minify JS/CSS code wherever possible.
• Consider prefetching and preloading resources.
• Delete any unnecessary plug-ins.
It’s also a great idea to regularly check your site performance through online tools like GTmetrix or Pingdom. They can not only give you some essential statistics but also offer details about existing bottlenecks and possible optimizations you can apply.
2. Create an easily operated UI/UX.
Understanding your market and target audience is vital in the website-building game. What is the user intent when landing on your pages? What is their customer journey, and what do you want it to be? Do you have an end goal that you want your visitors to reach?
Answering the above questions will give you a better outlook on the strategies you need to implement to perfect your UI/UX. Mapping the customer journey will help you pinpoint the essential functionalities on each page and how they would complement your site goals.
A/B testing is a great method to consider. Whatever changes you make, you can assess how your audience reacts to different versions of your website and which one works best.
Focus on your content as well. Ensure it is clear, practical and accessible and that users can easily find it.
3. Optimize your images.
Images and multimedia files are often the heaviest burden on your server, which consumes the most bandwidth. Proper caching and compression are a must if you don’t want your pages to take forever to load.
When performing a site audit, check out your image sizes. Can they be reduced without compromising their quality? If yes, put it on top of your to-do list. You can then optimize your image attributes and alt tags to ensure they are easily findable and rank alongside your text content.
A good idea here is to use a content delivery network (CDN) solution like Cloudflare. Such a platform will help you cache your text and images on a global network of servers and deliver them from a location close to each visitor.
4. Don’t forget about mobile users.
In line with your code and image optimization efforts, you have to make sure your content looks great on different devices and screen sizes. Statistics show that around 55% of all web traffic comes from mobile users, and the number gets even bigger when we are talking about online shopping.
Mobile responsiveness should be a prime consideration right from the first stages of building your website. Many modern templates and layouts already contain the needed functionalities, but you have to ensure any custom code and images are also scalable.
Don’t forget that for mobile users, quite often, less is more. Avoid any annoying pop-ups or content clutter that can distract the visitor from reaching your end goal.
5. Always have SEO in mind.
Even the fastest-loading pages will do you no good if people cannot land on them easily. Applying some of the best on-page SEO practices is a no-brainer if you are looking to bring in more traffic. And there are a ton of things you can do to improve your search engine rankings:
• Create informative, engaging and unique content.
• Target relevant keyphrases according to your user intent.
• Optimize crawlability and indexation.
• Apply appropriate meta titles and descriptions.
• Use header tags and image alt tags.
Consider these final takeaways.
You can add many more customizations and features to further speed up your pages. But even by just following the above tips, you will be able to get the most out of your hosting server and its resources. Make sure to secure the right web hosting environment for your website, perform regular checks and always seek new ways to shave off a few more milliseconds out of your loading times.