7 Steps to speed up your website

Do you suffer from a slow website?

Do you even know how fast your website is?

Why should you care?

At We are Chain, we believe a fast website is a good one and there are a lot of reasons this is true. Depending on the type of website, your goals might differ but we know a fast website can help with a lot of things. If it is an eCommerce website, you might see an increase in the all-important conversion rate, meaning you make more sales for the same amount of traffic. As a more content-based website, you can reduce your bounce rate and increase the time spent on your website. 

In the first instance you need to understand if your website is fast or slow and then get to know what is having an impact on the speed. There are a lot of tools out there to do this and the majority are free so don’t get dragged into paying for it. Sometimes it may be a case of a customer or member of staff letting you know. When this happens you know you have a serious problem.

Testing your website speed

It only takes a few minutes to carry out a speed test. You just need to put your url into one of the free speed testing services. We recommend either Google Lighthouse or GT Metrix. 

GT Metrix

Google Page Speed Insights

Your results will come in 2 formats so don’t forget to check for both Desktop and Mobile performance. Traditionally mobile is a lot harder to speed up so don’t be too disappointed if your score is much lower than the desktop one. There is a lot of information on display and you should try and understand the basics. You can then begin to plan out the 7 steps we will run through below. Things to look out for include Largest Contentful Paint (which is the largest object on your page) and images that are too heavy. You will see a timer at the end of each line, this is the number of seconds loading takes. They may look like small numbers individually but together they make a big difference. 

Step 1: Reduce Image Size

The image size can have the biggest impact on Website Speed. If you think about it in terms of weight, a big heavy image takes a lot of lifting by Google. By reducing the weight you make life easier for the browser to load it. Especially important if your visitor has a slow download speed. You can identify the images and then shrink them manually if you like. We ensure when we build a website that every image is put through the reduction process using Photoshop

You might not have access to the might of Adobe so you could settle with using Paint to reduce the size of the image or Canva to reduce the file size. Watch our latest useful video to see how we do it in Canva

Step 2: Check Apps and Plug ins

Depending on what platform your website has been built, there is a good chance you have used an app or plug-in to achieve something not normally available. This could be on your Shopify or WordPress website. It doesn’t matter which, they both come with the same problem. Extra Plugins means extra code and sometimes they are built with a lot of code which slows your website down. 

Firstly test your website speed without any plug-ins, then add the plug-in and test again. You should be able to identify the offending plug-in. Rule number 1 is to remove any redundant Plug ins once you have deactivated them. You should also not use plug ins if you can find a way to do it yourself. Adding Google Analytics is a good example you don’t need a heavy-weight SEO plug-in to do this. You can add the code to the header yourself

Step 3: Improve your Hosting

When you first start a business, every penny counts, that includes hosting. You may have got a brilliant deal with a domain provider like GoDaddy or Wix, but does that translate to website performance?

Hosting is exactly the same as any other purchase, the more you pay the better the performance. You should also get quite a lot of extras with a good hosting provider. If your website is sharing a server with thousands of other websites it will be slow and this is the case with most cheap suppliers. We recommend Fasthosts or Siteground

Step 4: Enable Browser Caching

When visitors load your website, their computer has to download everything the first time. When they return you don’t want them to have to do it twice. This is where Browser Caching comes in. Rather than letting them load everything twice, you can allow their computer to store your website content ready for the next visit. You can turn this on with most optimizer programmes like WP Rocket or the in built plug-ins that come with your Siteground account. Simple “Enable Browser Caching”. 

Step 5: Choose the right image type

We have already covered Image size, but you also need to think about Image type. There are a few different type sof image including; Jpgs, PNGs, Gif and Webp.

To keep it simple ignore the GIFs these are more like video files and will slow your website down. PNGs are excellent for image resolution but not so great for websites because they are bigger naturally than JPGs and WEBp files. JPGs are a good solution and easy to use. WEBp is the ultimate solution and can be done using image compressors or a plug in that treats all your images the same. 

What is a WEBp Image?

“WebP is a modern image format that provides superior lossless and lossy compression for images on the web. Using WebP, webmasters and web developers can create smaller, richer images that make the web faster.”

Google Devs

Step 6: Minify your CSS

Most websites are built using HTML and CSS. These are codes and as you can imagine if you have too much code then the browser will take a while reading it. You can speed up the process in a number of ways including Minifying your CSS. This can be done using WP Rocket or similar. To put it simply, imagine reading a document that has duplicated lines, lots od spaces, and unnecessary text. Minifying it will emove these errors and make it easier to read. 

Step 7: Use a content delivery network to speed up your website

Using a content delivery network is essential in delivering a fast website to users across the world. If you imagine that your website information is stored on a server in London and a visitor comes to your website from Canda. Yes, you might think that digital is instant but it is not. Information still has to travel a long way and it takes time. If your website was also hosted on servers in Toronto then the process would be much easier. This is how a content delivery network works. It hosts your website on servers all over the world. This means anyone accessing from a long distance away from your physical location will get the website delivered from a local source. Shopify already uses one that is built into the platform so you needn’t worry. If your website is built on WordPress an the like you might want to ensure your hosting comes with a CDN enabled. 

In conclusion

If you think that your website might be slow but don’t know what to do then talk to us. We can perform the website speed tests for free. We can also identify the root causes of your problems and come up with a solution. Get in touch to find pout more.

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