Improving Website Performance – Our Tips

The performance of your website is integral to the amount of traffic, leads and sales your site brings in. Below we’re going to look deeper into how to improve the performance of a website and hear some tips from the Sherbet Donkey Dev team on how to boost your website’s performance.

Web – SEO

The performance of your website is integral to the amount of traffic, leads and sales your site brings in. If you have a poorly performing website that is slow, unresponsive and littered with broken buttons and poor content, consumers aren’t going to want to stick around waiting for it to work correctly.

Your web performance is a good indicator of the health of your website. As a result, website performance optimisation has a massive impact on your customer experience and digital customer journey, helping to:

  • Improve visitor retention
  • Reduce your bounce rate
  • Improve website conversions and sales
  • Prioritise search engine optimisation
  • Ensure a better user experience

Both users and search engines like Google will be observant of the performance of your website before ranking you accordingly or using your services. Google’s Core Web Vitals list measures site performance on three evaluation criteria:

Largest contentful paint (LCP) – Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) is one of the three Core Web Vitals metrics, and it represents how quickly the main content of a web page is loaded. Specifically, LCP measures the time from when the user initiates loading the page until the largest image or text block is rendered within the viewport.

First input delay (FID) – The delay users experience when interacting with the page for the first time to the time when the browser actually begins processing certain events.

Cumulative layout shift (CLS) – Measures stability of pages and movements of elements that may frustrate the user.

Below we’re going to look deeper into how to improve the performance of a website and hear some tips from the Sherbet Donkey Dev boys on how to boost your website’s performance

Page speed

One of the key penalty factors of website performance is page loading speed. Your page speed can impact your search engine rankings, customer experience and satisfaction, and the conversion rate of your site. If your website is slow and unresponsive, it’ll likely cause users to leave your site and ultimately result in lost sales. For this reason, our developers are always hot on checking page speed and performance.

The ideal page loading speed is suggested to be 3 seconds and the longer your site takes to load, the more issues you can expect to incur. In fact, website conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42% with each additional second of load time (between seconds 0-5).

Use a CDN

A CDN is a content delivery network and your CDN is responsible for boosting the speed of websites by caching content in several locations. Requests for content go to a CDN server instead of to the hosting server, which could be thousands of miles away and across multiple networks from the user. Using a CDN can also result in a massive decrease in page load times and can help reduce the load on your servers. Additionally, a CDN can vastly improve loading times for international visitors.

Optimise images

Images represent a large percentage of internet traffic and they often take a long time to load on a website as a result of large image files. To reduce image load time, image optimisation can be implemented to reduce the resolution, compress the files, and reduce dimensions for speedier loading.

“Through carefully considered and tested methods of optimisation, we can often reduce image filesizes by 50% or more while maintaining excellent image quality. At Sherbet Donkey we use a set of processes to cover all the regular modifications we make to images before adding them to a website, namely:

  • Ensuring that images are saved in the ideal format
  • Resizing the image to the maximum size
  • Compressing the image

Using these processes, we can often start with a 12MB studio photo and bring it down to a 0.4MB photo to be displayed on the web – the final image being less than 5% the weight of the original, while keeping the quality high enough to look good on all devices, including mobile devices.” Stefan (JC) – Full stack developer.

Foz Colour 360x540 1

Minify CSS and JavaScript files

Minimising CSS and JavaScript files is the task of removing unnecessary or redundant data without affecting how the resources are processed by the browser. Doing this allows the page to be loaded quicker and more effectively and it greatly reduces the file size of the site.

“The steps I take to do this is using siteground optimizer, although any website optimisation can do this. After finishing a project, the last steps I take are to minify CSS/JavaScript files and combine files if needed, which reduces the number of requests on the site and preloads combined files allowing the page to be rendered. While doing this, I would make sure the site is still performing correctly and everything is still working.

Best practice would be to only use CSS and JavaScript when needed and make sure your code is minimal.”
 – Fozrul, Back-end developer.

Reduce HTTP requests where possible

The browser cache is a temporary storage location where browsers save copies of static files so that they can load recently visited web pages much quicker. Developers can instruct browsers to cache elements of a webpage that will not change often. Instructions for this go in the headers of HTTP responses from the hosting server which greatly reduces the amount of data that the server needs to transfer to the browser and shortens load times for users who frequently visit certain pages.

Minimise inclusion of external scripts

Any scripted webpage elements will need to be loaded from somewhere else, such as external commenting systems or CTA buttons. These elements will need to be loaded each time the page loads and depending on the size of the script, these can slow a webpage down, or cause the webpage to not load all at once. This is called ‘content jumping’ or ‘layout shifting’ and can be even more frustrating for those using mobile to browse the site.

Enable GZIP Compression

GZIP is a compression method that enables you to reduce the file sizes for several elements within your website. In some cases, simply enabling GZIP compression can reduce the weight of your pages by up to 70% and ultimately result in a quicker site.

Andy

Use a good hosting provider

In this day and age, your website is absolutely pivotal to the success of your business. Every business should have a well-designed and functional website, as well as good-quality hosting.

“Hosting is one of the most important parts of increasing website speeds. You can do hundreds of optimisation tweaks, but if the server is poorly spec’d, you’re not going to be able to see any of the effects. Opting for cloud hosting allows you to have super-fast machines and can easily scale the specs to meet new demands. Some websites, like Siteground for example, offer optimised PHP implementation, which can increase the TFB (Time to First Byte), meaning pages can load much faster. According to Siteground this can be as much as 30% faster compared to standard implementations.” Andrew – Head of development.

Correctly size images

Correctly sizing your images is important for web performance, this is because the browser must spend more time downloading the file and increasing the bandwidth consumed. Correctly sized images will greatly improve the page loading speed.

“The average professional camera is normally 21 MP, these can give images that are around 4000px-5000px wide, as the most common screen resolution is 1920px the images are twice the size as needed. reducing this size down can save up to 75% on the file size, which means less data is needed to download the image.” Andrew – Head of development.

Constant testing

“Responsive testing is a key step in ensuring any site is ready to go-live. You will usually take 3 different breakpoints (these will reflect mobile screen sizes; phones, tablets and small laptops), you may also have to factor in small desktop sizes too, but this isn’t always an issue that needs addressing.

During responsive testing, you will be customising the site to make sure it looks appropriate for that screen size. Often this includes stacking elements that are side-by-side, decreasing sizes of fonts and images, and totally removing or rebuilding elements that are either of no use on a device of that size or the presence of that element lowers the usability of the site. As a developer, your primary responsibility in this instance is to guarantee the end-user has the most optimum experience whilst using your website, and that is on all devices and screen widths.”
 Charlie – Web developer.

SEO optimised pages

A good website will be built with SEO in mind, which means all the pages will be optimised for SEO in order to bring in the most relevant traffic, and quality leads, to convert them into sales. Poorly optimised pages will likely lead consumers to nowhere, allowing potential sales to fall through the cracks.

Use an optimised platform

Choosing lightweight tools and plugins for the development of your site will make it easier to keep things running fast and secure. Take care when deciding to use a page builder, as certain page builders are quite heavy, and will weigh down a website quite quickly.
“It can be really hard to optimise a site that is built on bloated code and excess plugins, so try your best to keep things lean while not sacrificing design aspects or feature sets of your project.

Jaz

Delete unused plug-ins

“Plugins allow us to quickly add functionality to a website, without needing to spend a large amount of time creating the functionality ourselves.” – Jawad, Senior back-end developer.

When using plugins, it is important to ensure that if the functionality they provide is no longer being used/required, the plugin is removed. Otherwise, the website will be loading these files despite not needing them and therefore increasing load time. Additionally, plugins can occasionally conflict with other code on the site, including other plugins. This can cause a variety of errors from minor display issues to bringing a website down – thus it is important to test compatibility when using new plugins on websites.

A well performing website is going to give you the best chances at converting traffic, gaining attention, and maintaining a positive user experience for existing customers. Your website is essentially your storefront and you want to ensure that every visitor can navigate it easily to optimise your chances at converting.

Our tips should help you, but really, you should be working with the experts at Sherbet Donkey. We design and develop custom websites to give your business the best chance at marketing success. You can browse our website projects, or learn more about our web development services here.
And if you fancy working with an agency that understands business needs, website design and functional and professional development, you can contact us here.

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