Your website used to be your pride and joy.
When it launched a few years ago, you had lightning-fast loading speeds. Your customers were shopping before they knew it – and with blazing speeds comes high conversion rates.
But recently, you’ve noticed your site is slowing down.
A tenth of a second here, a quarter of a second there… it doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up. And if your site starts taking longer than about 4 seconds to load, your bounce rates will start soaring – and your conversion rate will start sinking.
How did your website, which was once blazing fast deteriorate and become so sluggish?
We’ve identified seven culprits that are likely responsible for sucking the speed out of your site.
Here they are. In all their minimizing glory.
1. Uncompressed Images
Here’s one of the biggest culprits.
As your site grows in complexity, you’ll likely be adding more visual assets. Banners, backgrounds, product photos – these are all essential parts of web design, and have a rightful place on your website.
However, if you do not compress your images – or don’t compress them enough – you can seriously impact your page loading times. Optimizing your images can make your website up to 10% faster – with visually-heavy websites reaping the biggest benefit. Even reducing file sizes by 5-10% won’t affect quality noticeably – but it will have a big benefit when it comes to loading times.
2. Outdated or Useless Extensions
It’s an ugly reality facing many people on website platforms like Magento or WordPress.
While you’re maintaining and upgrading your website, chances are that you’ll use extensions to do things like:
- Add comments and review sections
- Filter spam and fake traffic
- Add extra eCommerce functionality to your store
- Track SEO performance
- Add analytics tracking to your website
And much more. That’s the beauty of using a platform that supports extensions. You can add most kinds of functionality to your website without coding it yourself.
But that’s where you can start running into issues. If you add too many extensions, your website’s loading speed will start to suffer, due to all the extra code and assets it will have to load.
So, periodically, it’s a good idea to audit the extensions you’re using.
Are there any extensions that are outdated?
Are they any you don’t need?
Could you replace older extensions with better, more lightweight ones?
Cleaning house every once in a while is a great way to avoid extension overload and speed up your site.
3. Failing to Use Smart Web Caching
Web caching allows you to store versions of your website in the user’s web browser – essentially allowing their browser to “remember” a version of your website, and eliminating the need for the HTML content to be re-loaded onto their computer every time they visit your page.
Implementing web caching is, perhaps, the most important thing you can do to speed up your website. It can speed your website up by more than 300%, in some cases. Most platforms like Magento and WordPress offer caching, so you’ll just need to enable it for your pages, and you’ll immediately enjoy a performance boost.
4. Using a Low-Quality Hosting Provider
Not all hosting providers are created equal.
If you’re opting for a low-cost, budget hosting provider, you may be sharing server space with other companies and websites – and that means that your performance will suffer when traffic loads get high.
To avoid this kind of slowdown, we recommend you switch to a Virtual Private Server (VPS), or dedicated server hosting. Both of these types of hosting are a bit more expensive but provide you with a server that’s completely dedicated to your website – and no other. That means you’ll never have to worry about server slowdowns caused by other websites.
While you’re at it, you should also look for a provider that supports a Content Delivery Network, or CDN. CDNs allow your website to maintain consistent loading times across just about any geographic location.
5. Bloated HTML or CSS
Unless you’re a web developer, chances are you’ll find it hard to identify bloated HTML or CSS.
It may be worthwhile to hire a developer to take a look at your website, to see if there are any unnecessary UI elements, or if there is excessive CSS or HTML code. Doing so will help boost your loading time – and ensure the proper, reliable operation of your website.
6. Excessive HTML Redirects
HTML redirects should be used sparingly.
Because every time you redirect someone, using a 301 redirect, for example, you’re forcing two web pages to load. The first web page is the original page – which has been tagged with the 301 redirect – and after it’s been loaded, the page to which a user is being redirected must also load.
Put more simply, it’s wasteful for a user to go to one place when they want to be in another.
There are a number of redirect mapping tools out there – so you may want to take a look at your website, and see if you have excessive 301 and 302 redirects, and think about how you could change your website to eliminate them.
7. Using an Outdated CMS or Web Platform
If you’re using a CMS or web platform like Magento or WordPress, it’s important to update it whenever a new version of the platform is released.
Doing so has a number of benefits:
- Eliminates potential security issues
- Bugs and stability issues are fixed
- Overall efficiency of the platform is enhanced
Over time, these kinds of content management platforms become more advanced, developed, and sophisticated – and that means that loading times are usually faster with the latest version of your CMS or web platform. So keep it updated, and you’ll enjoy all of the above benefits.
Avoid These Common Mistakes – Audit Your Website Today.
If you’ve noticed that your loading times are slowing down, and you’re not sure why the above mistakes may be at the root of your issue. So start auditing your website today, and see if these common problems are slowing down your website.
If you have any questions or need help auditing your site, please contact us. We’d love to take your lethargic site and turn it into a nimble browsing pleasure.