11 Quick & Easy Improvements for Faster Page Loading Times

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In February of this year, Google has began testing the “slow to load” warning labels on their search result by putting a red caution label under links that were slow to load. They have continued testing that further for mobile devices. If Google deems the pages of your website to be slow to load and the person who searched for you is on a mobile device they are now warned with a small yellow caution label.

Slow-to-load-on-Google-Search-results

This goes to show that Google really prioritizes loading speed now. And you should too.

Kissmetric made an infographic showing us how load times can actually affect your bottomline.

loading-time-lrg

Now that you’re familiar with the importance of speed in loading times, learn these quick tips to make your website response much faster.

1. Run your site through a site analyzer
A quick way to measure your site’s loading speed is through a site analyzer. There are a lot of these tools in the web. But the Web Page Analyzer lets you see a bit more insight about general errors that contribute to the slowing down of your website and seeing the “health” of your site in terms of load times. Another site analyzer to bookmark is Pingdom. It allows you to check for broken images and paths, as well as loading time for all of your images and scripts. Broken paths and images can be a major load time killer.

2. Host files locally
If you have a server, it’s better to host image files locally rather than having to pull it up from a file hosting website every time. Put images on your own server and save the time spent for the browser to travel to let’s say Flickr and download the image.

3. Use image tags
Image tags such as this:

<img src=”xxxxx” alt=”xxxxx” width=”000″ height=”000″ border=”0″ />

can make a huge difference when the web browser loads the page. If the browser knows the width and height, it can go right on past the image and let it load in the background while it renders the rest of the page. If an image doesn’t have these tags, the browser has to wait until the image loads before it can go on loading the rest of the page.

4. Go easy on the widgets
Widgets can add a bit of flair and functionality on your website but activating a number of them can really hurt your loading time, and apparently, your bottomline.

5. Use static caching
Caching is taking pages written in dynamic languages like PHP, and turning the result into a static web page. Web servers are incredibly good at serving static files. By turning your dynamic pages into static pages, you’ll reduce load on your server and greatly improve page loading times. Here are some great primers on caching for a few popular languages:
PHP
Rails
Perl
Java
ASP

6. Accelerators
Dynamic languages typically have scripts that can help accelerate how fast the language is run. If you develop in PHP these scripts might help: APC, Zend cache, Xcache.

7. CSS shrinker
Smaller external scripts like javascript and CSS can make a big difference in load times. Try using online services like CSS clean to take your CSS source and strip things like
• white spaces
• line breaks
• remove unnecessary characters

8. Cut back on cookies
Cookies can slow down page load times for websites because they weigh it down, just like cookies IRL. Extra cookies that are set on the user’s browser adds time to each page load. Make sure that you’re only using the smallest possible number of cookies, and also try optimizing cookie usage.

9. Use a different domain for cookie-free resources
In an attempt to optimize cookie usage, try using a different domain for resources that don’t need to have cookies set. This is helpful when you’re using top-level cookies (yoursite.com). Everything downloaded from yoursite.com will have a cookie attached to it. Sites can get around this by using a completely different domain to store the resources that don’t need a cookie attached to them. For example, Yahoo! uses the domain yimg.com to store their resources that don’t need a cookie attached to them.

10. Shrink your javascript
Much like you should reduce CSS shrinking, it’s a very good idea to compress your javascript files as well. Using services like Dean Edward’s packer can strip out unwanted line breaks, characters, and other redundant code in your javascript files.

11. Combine javascript files
As a general rule, downloading lots of small scripts takes longer than downloading one large script. If you can combine your javascripts into one large file, you’ll see faster download times. The easiest way to do this without having to re-code everything is to physically open your javascript files and copy and paste all of the javascript into one file. However, this isn’t always the easiest option, so here are a few resources that show how you can merge javascript files dynamically.
PHP
Smarty (PHP templating language)
• Rails
ASP

Kevin Joshua Ng
Kevin Joshua Ng
Kevin is Content Marketing’s humble scribe. He has no doubt in his mind that Content is still king and he will serve it ‘til the day of his demise. He’s known to lurk around the walls of social media, thinking and writing. So follow him on the BuiltbySF blog and on LinkedIn, Twitter.

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