Top tips for improving your website loading speed

When a customer visits your website, you have three seconds to engage them before they leave your website and you risk losing them forever. Today’s consumers expect brands and businesses to keep up with their fast-paced lifestyle. Loading speed is no longer a luxury but a necessity as consumer expectations have shifted the way we all interact and purchase online.

Here are a few simple tips to give your site a turbo boost:

1. Choose a good host

While there are a lot of cheap offers out there, hosting is one of those things where you generally get what you pay for. Find a host that understands the needs of your business, optimises for the software you use and provides service at the application level. A good host should also be a partner in building your business online, not just the bare minimum of keeping the lights on.

2. Enable caching

When a request for a page on your site comes in, the page is sent to the server to be “compiled,” or generated based on the code that exists on that page. This doesn’t cause much strain for the server, as it’s pretty easy to serve just one page. Now imagine if that server has to build multiple pages per second, things will get a lot tougher.

Caching serves to help out with the heavy lifting the server does by storing a copied “snapshot” of each page request that comes into the server. When a page request comes to the server, it first asks whether the page is in cache. If not, it’s sent to the server to be built and then served, and on its way back it also stores a copy of that page within the caching layer. This way, the next time a request for that page comes in, it can be served from the caching layer, instead of having to be built like new from the server itself. There are a number of plugins available for WordPress that can help with this form of caching like WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache.

3. Optimise your images and other media

Images are great for engaging your site visitors. But they can also slow down your site quite considerably if they aren’t optimised.

Image compression helps reduce file size without a major loss of quality, meaning that when it’s done right the image won’t look any different to the original file.

A WordPress plugin that does this automatically is WP It can both reduce file size for existing media and anything new that is uploaded to your site.

4. Keep core technology up to date

The basic technology and software installed on your server is another main driver of load speed. Do you know if yours is running the latest version of PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor? If not, it’s worth finding out.

A quality host will take care of this for you and let you know when they are making updates to their architecture. That doesn’t mean you can’t stay up to date on your own but to ensure your site stays secure you must stay diligent with your updating.

Speed isn’t everything

Speed is an important factor in running a website and, therefore, your business. It is a key determinant for bounce rate, conversions, customer satisfaction and search rankings. 53 per cent of users will abandon a mobile site if it takes three seconds or more to load.

At the same time, it is also pivotal to remember that speed isn’t everything. You should never remove important or necessary site elements just to save a few milliseconds.

Mark Randall, Australia/New Zealand Country Manager, WP Engine