First, so many people are accessing the Web from smartphones, tablets, and other devices now that you really need to use smaller file sizes to allow for shorter website load time. Plus, mobile hates tables. If your site is using them, it probably doesn’t look right on a mobile device. Mobile sites have to be built in a way that’s easy for mobile devices to read them. Hence, HTML 5 which doesn’t use tables at all.
Not only that, but think about people who are accessing your site from one of these very convenient smaller electronic devices… They’re probably away from home or office and in a hurry to see what they need to see and move along. If your website takes too long to load, they’ll probably just push on.
Second, website load time is important to your SEO. Since Google’s Caffeine Update in June 2010, the time it takes to load your page has a definite bearing on how well your site will perform in search.
Here are some things you can do to make your website load time shorter:
- Don’t upload giant images. These can take forever to load, so you want the images to be as small as possible. Don’t upload directly from your smartphone or scanner. Take the images into a software like Picassa, GIMP, or any other photo editing software or site and resize them. They don’t need to be 1024 pixels wide when you’re using them for an article or even a product image for your ecommerce site. If your CMS is WordPress, you can get a plugin called “Smush.it,” which I’ve written about here before. You can smush images one by one or you can smush them all at once. This takes a long time, if you have lots of images on your site, but it’s worth the wait. If you have an HTML site, you can go to the Yahoo Smush.it site and do it there instead.
- Keep your code clean. If you’re using Word to create posts, you’re probably not doing yourself any favors. Word creates a very long CSS file in the code of the page you create, and when you just copy & paste from Word, you’re adding a ton of unnecessary code to your posts and pages. Either write directly into the blog post writing blank, as I always do, or use a text editor to do your writing. Make the article pretty after you add it to the site.
- Another WordPress plugin that will help make your site faster is called P3, which means “Plugin Performance Profiler.” It’s great for seeing which plugins are making your site slower. If you don’t really need slow ones, get rid of them. In fact, the more plugins you have, the slower your site will load. Try to keep them to the bare minimum.
If you want to check your site’s load time, you can do it at Pingdom.com. Not only will it test your site, but it will keep a record of the test and the next time you go back, you can compare the two load times to see if your site is speeding up or slowing down.
Of course, you can tell that I’m partial to WordPress for building websites and so are many other developers on the Internet. It just makes better sense. Not only are they highly customizable, but they’re also very user friendly. But if you have a straight HTML site, that doesn’t mean some of these techniques for speeding up your site won’t work for you, but I have a bit of advice… Move it to WordPress. You’ll be very glad you did.