Patience — there are certain things we have to have it with, websites shouldn’t be one of them. There is nothing worse than trying to view a slow loading website. We’ve all been there, sitting in front of our screens as that little pinwheel of death spins and spins…and spins some more.
So what exactly slows a website down? Usually, it’s page size. Before a browser can display your web page, it needs to download the data. Your pages are filled with all kinds of code — HTML, CSS, images, scripts, Flash — all which weigh and slow your site down.
In our previous post, we discussed how your real estate site’s speed impacts its SEO and analytics, and suggested some diagnostic tools you can use to check it out. Now, we’re back with some tips for getting your website up to speed!
So how can get your page load time down and speed up your website?
The bigger the image, the more slowly it, and ultimately your page, loads. And, as a real estate professional, I’m sure your site has a ton of images.
The only way to get around slow loading images is to optimize them. You can do this in a few ways:
Don’t rely on CSS to scale your images. If you have a larger image that you know you will end up scaling down, avoid slowing down your page and just scale it beforehand. Even if you scale a 2000 x 2000 pixel image down to 200 x 200 pixels with CSS, your browser still loads the image at its original size. All of that extra work that the browser has to do negatively impacts your website’s overall speed.
So what about those large images that you don’t want to scale? Compress them! Compressing an image allows you to reduce its size in bytes, without affecting its quality or dimensions. There are several tools available for doing this, including Optimizilla, TinyPNG, and Photoshop.
We know that page size affects a website’s speed, but we haven’t really covered how you can decrease the size of your pages. That’s where compression comes in. According to Varvy, compression can reduce page file size by as much as 70% without degrading the quality of the site at all.
Compression allows your web-server to return smaller HTML and CSS files to the browser making the request. In turn, your website loads faster for your visitors! Compression is a server setting, so you should contact your web host to see how you can implement it.
Each time someone loads a page on your site, their browser must download all of that data from the server. And, if that person is going back to your site more than once, the browser has to do this over and over again. By simply enabling browser caching you can temporarily store some of that data on your visitor’s computer, so that their browser isn’t forced to go back and download the same files repeatedly. This means a visitor who has already accessed your site won’t have to wait for your site to load every single time they visit it!
High volumes of traffic to your site can mean bad news for your web-server.Your server can get clogged and bogged down when too many concurrent users are trying to access your site; your site might even crash in this case. Instead of having your server do all of the work, let a content delivery network (CDN) carry the load.
A CDN offloads requests from your web-server to dedicated, geographically dispersed server nodes, which cache the static content of your site’s pages. When a user accesses your site, the node closest in proximity delivers your page content to them. This ensures that your data only has to travel the shortest distance to reach the user, in turn providing a faster load time for your site.
In the digital world we live in today, users not only want fast websites, they expect them. Don’t let your website’s speed be the difference between you crushing your competitors, or getting crushed.