Web Design Tips, Tutorials & More!

Increasing speed

Website speed and deliver is of the utmost import in getting people to actually stay on your site once they have clicked to open it. If it takes too long to load, they will disappear before they see the home page. Slow loading of websites can cut your visitor views to at least the half. People on the net have no patience. They require instant gratification. Even the silly little circle spinning round and round isn’t going to keep them if it goes too slowly. The aim of any website should be to load as you click on it. Amazingly enough this also counts for your Google rankings so you really need to think long and hard about load time, graphics, flash and the like. Besides Google and visitors, you could very well be losing customers to that site below you that opens faster than you do.

What can you do about it? Well, the first thing is to look at the load times of your page and there are a few programs on line that will analyze these for you and point out what is slowing you down. One of these is YSlow, which is an ad on for Firefox. You can also use a website Optimization service which will analyze the page and send you data.

Once you have this data in hand you can see where you can use things like Ajax or Moo Tools to organize the loading of the page so that you don’t have to reload the entire page all the time. These have items where you can organize what loads when and save the slowest loading items to load last. This means that files like image files can be moved to last and load after the text is already up and keeping the visitor occupied. Always optimize your graphics and photos to web ready. This means cutting back on the amount that will be loading and this also saves time. If you are going to be loading a full megapixeled image which will spread out over the entire page it will take far too long. Many of the graphics programs have ways of cutting back on the image so that it still looks good but will load in less than half the time. Every single millisecond counts.

Use CSS and java that has been cached externally. This will cut down on the load time. Speaking of CSS, make sure that all unnecessary repeat code is removed, and your CSS is optimized.

Put a caching system into place. This way instead of constantly accessing your database it will retrieve the data from the cache. The caching system will refresh for the visitor if they hit F5 or when you update your blog dependent on exactly how you set it up. If you are using WordPress you are home and dry as they have a static system already in place which is why you can make certain pages html instead of dynamic. This is WordPress Super Cache. Similar, in effect, there are several other Caching systems you can use for items like PHP such as APC. Use database caching as this increase performance as well as time. One such caching system is memcache.

With regard to photos which I mentioned early, don’t do on the site resizing as this won’t reduce the loading time rather resize it in your photo editing program.  Photoshop and Photopaint pro both make them far smaller in pixels rather than just size. By using of the right format of your images you will also reduce loading time. For this the lossy format of the jpg is undoubtedly a winner still although if you want to make use of the transparent photo with text you will have to revert to .png. 

For a long time, we used photos of cent inaccessible font styles when we wanted to present just the right font without the next browsers distorting them. When we did this, we had to tag them correctly or the spiders wouldn’t be able to read them. While this can still be done it is no longer necessary as there are many font services out there who will deliver up your favorite fonts on to your site while storing them on theirs. Another time saver, although some of them seem to be that second slow.

Remember I spoke about the loading the slowest things last? Well, one of those loads should be your JavaScript, and this should be organized to load at the end of your page. Java tends to take over the download and won’t allow anything else to load until it finished so if you load it last the page will already be up. Set the reference to java immediately prior to the closing body tag.

Something a lot of people don’t take into consideration is the location of your servers. It may sound strange but if your server is in Europe and the person using your site is in the USA they are going to be getting a slower load time than if the server was in the USA. Bigger sites which can afford the extra costs will use a CDN which will increase speed as they have servers around the globe to be able to offer a speedier service. It is possible for all, but it will increase your costs. Amazon simple storage service is one that offers this option.

Last but by no means least you need to consider using the web caching in addition to the rest of the caching options you have instituted. This basically means you allow browsers to cache the files to use them later. This will include things like JavaScript, CSS files as well as images.

There are also ways of making your HTTP headers remain on the browser so that when the visitor returns, they don’t need to re-download but the page loads that much fast. There is a large quantity of reading matter on this subject both on Google and on Yahoo, and you can learn about browser caching there as well. All these items make it far quicker to have your website appear to the visitor.

Time is of the Essence when you are working on the web. (Even for those who are browsing with nothing better to do)


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