How to speed up your website.

Have you been told you need to speed up your website but do not know how to speed up your website?; then read on.

 If you are a small business owner, chances are you have got your website – you might even have had one for a few years. But if

you have not done anything to it for a while, then changes on search engines and the tech we use to browse online might have moved on without you. Your site may not be as fast as you really need it to be.

Why does my site need to be fast? 

 Google works on the “mobile-first” principle, which means your site needs to be great for people on mobile devices. People on mobile devices are on the go, they want fast results and do not want to use all their mobile data to download your website. So your website needs to be as fast and streamlined as possible.

How to test your site

 As with all SEO tools/plugins and people giving SEO advice, nothing is guaranteed – everything is a guide based on personal experience, research of others. Nobody but Google and the other search engines know what they are looking for, but Google does like a fast site.

 To measure the speed of my websites I use https://gtmetrix.com   and https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights.

There are several factors that they measure to give an overall grade to the speed of your site. (I know I need to do some work on my site, it can still be faster, but that is a job for next month, I think).

Each site will give suggestions based on what they believe you need to do to speed up the site, but you need to work out the “how”.  

test your website to see how fast it loads

 Now I’m not sure what results you got from your website. But here are three main factors that may be slowing down a site.

 Images.

If your image file size is too big, this will slow the site when your browser tries to download the image. For example, a photo taken on your mobile is likely to be between 2-5MB in size, which if you used that on your website without resizing would slow the site right down.  

Ideally, I often suggest a file size for images on websites to be 100-150kb. You can reduce the size of the file in several ways.

Photo editing software: most art programmes offer “a save for web” option that reduces the file. You may also have to resize the actual size of the image too. A photo taken on your phone will generally be

2000- 3000 pixels (a laptop monitor is generally around 1200pixels wide).

Assuming that most of your images do not need to take up the whole screen, you will need to make the images smaller. 

 Also, it is important to save the file in the correct format.

Photo images are best in Jpg, whereas graphics (logos, icons, etc.) are better as a png file. Check file sizes as each format also affects the file size.

 If you don’t have any image editing software, then several websites can help eg. www.befunky.com and picresize.com.

Cache

Use a Cache plugin, a cache is a reserved storage location that collects temporary data to help websites, browsers, and apps load faster. The plugin does the work for you. However, each plugin has many, many settings, and you will need to test what combination of settings works best for your site. 

Some settings might break the site, stopping plugins from working or causing other issues with the functions. While other websites might require several plugins to do different jobs.  

 For WordPress users, a plugin like W3 Total Cache, WP Fastest Cache or Autoptimize is helpful.

 Wix.com says that their platform applies a cache automatically, however, WordPress plugins do give you more control over the different settings as each site are different with different needs/plugins etc. 

 Fonts,

The choice of fonts and where the fonts are stored also affects the speed. Using fonts known as system fonts (like Georgia, Impact or Arial) for your website. System fonts can be found on every device, and therefore a web browser does not need to look for the source files to know how to display these fonts. Some sites will use fonts from google fonts as it is a simple way to extend the range of fonts the site can use. However, the site needs to connect to Google Fonts, which will then slow the website down.  

Your options, 

  • if you can use system fonts.  
  • If you want to use specific font from Google
  •  For your website, then you need to understand that it will have an effect
  • On your websites speed.  
  • Some fonts you can actually store on the site, but they’re often ones to buy.  

When working on your branding and your fonts, this is definitely, something to bear in mind.

Conclusion

 There are other ways to help you speed up your website, but these are three key places to start. Having a fast site is very important but, giving your customer the best user experience should always be

your main aim. So if something I have recommended here or on the page speed test means that user experience is impacted, then do not do it. While we always work with Google in mind, remember your customer/reader is the most important person.

I am Pippa and I have run Pippas Web - web design for small business for 10 years. I help small business owners find their bit of cyberspace. I provide the technical know-how, so they can get back to running their business. If you like what I write in my blogs, you can sign up to my newsletter for more tips straight to your door. All list members get a copy of "How to get your business seen online in 2021".

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