Is a Slow Website Killing Your Business? 5 Ways to Speed it Up Today.

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A study conducted by Google indicates that if consumers have to wait more than 400 milliseconds for a site to begin loading, they’ll click away and go to a competitor. This is very different from data a few years ago that indicated consumers would wait several seconds for a site to begin loading. Today, if they have to wait 1/4 to 1/2 a second, they grow impatient and move on.

This is a challenge for many businesses since websites have continued to grow more complex with videos, maps and other interactive devices. The fact that more and more people are visiting sites from smartphones and tablets only compounds the problem. We took a look at our site’s load time a few months ago and have a few suggestions on how you can improve the performance of your site.

5 Ways You Can Increase the Load Time of Your Site

Here are a few things we did recently with the 60 Second Marketer website in order to improve our website performance:

  1. Test Your Speed: First, visit Pingdom.com to see how fast your site loads. (In the good old days, Pingdom had their website speed tool smack-dab in the middle of their home page, but now they’ve buried it. Fear not, we’ve uncovered it for you — you’ll find it here.)
  2. Get Rid of Unnecessary Plugins: If you have a WordPress site, you’ve probably added a bunch of plugins over the years. Each plugin slows your site down, so it’s a good idea to eliminate as many as you can. We went from 18 plugins down to 9 which improved our load time by 37%.
  3. Optimize Images: We also added a plugin called WP-SmushIt which reduces image sizes for the graphics you have on your site. By keeping the size of your graphics to a minimum, you’ll improve how quickly it loads.
  4. Use a Content Distribution Network (CDN): A CDN speeds up your website by storing versions of your website in various places around the globe. That way, when someone in London tries to access your site, the site is served up from Amsterdam instead of Phoenix. This improves the load time speed and makes your visitors very happy indeed. We’ve heard good things about MaxCDN and plan on using them once we’ve implemented step #5.
  5. Switch Your Web Hosting Provider: We’re planning on navigating our website over to Synthesis for both security reasons and because of some speed issues we’re having with our current host. We’ve heard good things about Synthesis. Stay tuned as we make the change — we’ll let you know if what we heard is accurate.

There are several dozen other things you can do to improve the speed of your website. We didn’t have time to discuss them all here, but the ones outlined above should get you started. Good luck. And let us know what your experience has been on this topic — we’d love to hear from you!

 

Jamie Turner is the CEO of the 60 Second Marketer and 60 Second Communications, a marketing communications agency that works with national and international brands. He is the co-author of “How to Make Money with Social Media” and “Go Mobile” and is a popular marketing speaker at events, trade shows and corporations around the globe.

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  • http://blog.wishpond.com/ Adella @ Wishpond

    Hi Jamie! Great tips! To improve the user experience, I’d recommend installing Google PageSpeed on your server to improve web page latency and bandwith usage. According to QuickSprout, this tool can improve speed by 25% to 60%. It will automatically apply web performance best practices to web pages and associated assets like CSS, JavaScript and images without requiring that you modify your existing content.

  • http://www.60SecondMarketer.com Jamie Turner

    Awesome, Adella. Great tip. Thanks for sharing!

    It sounds like you know your stuff. Given that, you might be interested in the post referenced below. We’re offering $250 (and a ton of exposure) to anyone who can solve our Google problem.

    Read the post and you’ll see what I’m talking about:

    http://60secondmarketer.com/blog/2013/10/10/contest-help-us-solve-google-problem/

    Thanks!

  • http://www.it-sales-leads.com/ Barbara Mckinney

    I already tried the tip #3. Your browser begins to render a page before images are loaded. Specifying image dimensions helps it to wrap around non-replaceable elements. If no dimensions are specified, your browser will reflow once the images are downloaded.

  • http://www.60SecondMarketer.com Jamie Turner

    Thanks for the tip, Barbara. Glad you’re putting some of the ideas in the post to work on your website.

    Cheers,
    Jamie

  • http://tythewebguy.com/ Ty Cahill

    Adding to Tip #2, if you don’t need a plugin make sure the files are completely deleted from your website.

    Deactivating a plugin will leave the files on your server, which may introduce security vulnerabilities depending on what those files do and how they were programmed. Many plugins have an option to remove or uninstall themselves from the server, but always view your site using FTP software to make sure the plugins have been completely deleted.

    Heed this advice from the Hardening WordPress page in the Codex:

    “First of all, make sure your plugins are always updated. Also, if you are not using a specific plugin, delete it from the system.”

    I’m helped quite a few businesses fix their websites after they were hacked this way.

  • http://www.60SecondMarketer.com Jamie Turner

    Yet another good tip, Ty. That’s two in one day — you’re on a roll. ;-)

    If I understand you correctly, you’re saying to login to your files via FTP and delete them from the server rather than simply clicking “Uninstall” on the WordPress Plugin page, right? If so, I’ve got some catching up to do. Thanks.

  • http://tythewebguy.com/ Ty Cahill

    Also, make sure you save images at the actual size you plan to use them on the website. Nothing’s worse than waiting for a 2mb image to download, which could have been saved as a 2kb thumbnail image. :-)

  • http://tythewebguy.com/ Ty Cahill

    Clicking uninstall or delete _should_ remove all the files, but it’s always best to confirm the files are gone by FTPing to the server and checking. Not all plugins will completely install themselves. And some plugins don’t offer the ability to delete or uninstall themselves.

    Also, use caution when installing plugins. I tend to look for plugins that have been around a while and have a good history of updates and large numbers of sites using them.

    Anyone can program a plugin, including people who don’t know what they’re doing. A poorly programmed plugin can take your website to its knees. And the plugin can be programmed to do anything, like quietly distributing malware from your website or harvesting user data. I usually review the PHP code being used to make sure things look okay before installing and using a plugin. I might be paranoid, but better safe than sorry! :-)

  • http://www.60SecondMarketer.com Jamie Turner

    Update — I just switched to Synthesis as my hosting provider and early indications are that the blog (which was already very fast) loads 20% faster than before switching to Synthesis.

    Synthesis specializes in blazingly fast servers that are very secure. So far, the premium I’m paying should be worth it — every millisecond I can shave off my load time is Gold in the eyes of Google.

    Stay tuned for more updates.

  • http://www.it-sales-leads.com/ Barbara Mckinney

    LOL..I can’t agree more Ty. There are always people who are making simple things complicated.

  • http://www.60SecondMarketer.com Jamie Turner

    Ty and Barbara, what’s the best way to reduce the image size? Should I open it up in iPhoto and save it as a smaller file? Or is there a simpler way? Thanks!

  • http://tythewebguy.com/ Ty Cahill

    There are several things to consider for image optimization on websites. Barbara’s suggestion can drastically improve the user experience on websites because specifying image dimensions keeps elements on the page from shifting around while the images load.

    My tool of choice for working with images is Photoshop, and here’s what I usually do:

    1) Size the image to the exact size I need—in pixels—for my web page.

    2) Use Photoshop’s Save for Web feature to save the image. Save for Web will strip out metadata (like the camera model, aperture setting, geotagging, etc.), making the file smaller and preserving privacy when photos have been geotagged. You can also tweak image settings and see what the resulting file size will be—like reducing the number of colors, sharpness, quality, etc. You want to get the image as small as possible without destroying the quality of the image.

    3) Save the image with a good filename. Use dashes/hyphens instead of spaces, avoid underscores in the filename and use keywords to help with image SEO.

    4) Upload the image and use it at the EXACT size (in pixels) you saved it at. And put that size in the height and width attributes in the HTML, as Barbara said.

    That will usually give you highly optimized images. There are several other tricks for improving images for mobile, like swapping out low-res images with higher resolutions ones after loading the page, etc.

    Photoshop is pricey, but Adobe also has Photoshop Elements for ~$100 that includes the features needed to optimize images for the web. Other tools have similar features. I don’t use iPhoto, so I can’t speak directly to what it’s capable of.

    Also, learn how your CMS works. Some will automatically resize images for you if you change the size after placing the image on the page. (Most don’t.) Some will create multiple sizes when you upload them. (WordPress can do this.) But most of the time, they will resize images by changing the width and height attributes in the HTML, or adding the size in the style attribute. That’s no good, since you’re still downloading the original, larger image and then scaling it down in the browser after it’s downloaded.

    Hope that helps!

  • http://www.60SecondMarketer.com Jamie Turner

    Excellent tips, Ty. I didn’t know that Photoshop Elements was so inexpensive. I may have to give it a whirl. Great advice — thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.60SecondMarketer.com Jamie Turner

    Thanks for the input, Ty. As always, good stuff!