No matter what platform or application you’re using for your website, speed is more important than any other time before. Don’t just think about your website ranking in Google and the other search engines. But also, you have to think about your readers who spend the time in your web pages.
The problem is that lots of webmasters still neglecting the loading time and even, the user experience and bombard their visitors with banner ads everywhere you go on the page.
In this post, I’ll make sure that you have all the things to make your blog loads faster. So, you will achieve a great user experience in a few steps.
Steps to optimize your site for speed
1. Compress your images and HTML
If you’re using WordPress, you can read this post that will show you in details what you have to do to do that. However, the main idea is this: Install a caching plugin if your server doesn’t have a good caching system. Then, add WP Smush.it to your plugins and activate it, and finally, use simple htaccess code to optimize the date expiration for your static files.
On the other side, when you’re using a standard HTML website or blog, you can compress the content of your website, especially, the images in cPanel. To do this easy optimization, login and click on ”Optimize Website” icon as the below example in cPanel.
Then, check the option that says, ”compress all content” and save the changes. In a few minutes, you will notice a good result with better speed and smaller page sizes. The HTML code will be compressed and that can save up to 80% of the website’s HTML size with every request.
2. Check your server configuration
This is needed when you have your own server, or when you host your website with professional web hosting provider. All the free hosting services, expect Google, offers low-quality services that no one wants to use.
Anyway, you need to verify that your server response time is below the 200 milliseconds that Google recommends.
That’s the average server response time that can guarantee the speed and the better performances. Update the database management software, and make it secure and optimized.
Just login to your phpMyAdmin, and check your current version. If it needs update ask for that. Update everything and you will be able to get better performance and save lots of time.
I recommend using Lightspeed servers for their great speed. Good hosting services add Varnish caching system that works well, just ask them if they can add that software to your server. At the same time, make sure that you have the latest stable PHP version. In many cases, Varnish can cause errors with old versions of PHP that it doesn’t support.
3. Use a CDN
Lots of beginners neglect using a Content Delivery Network, because they want to avoid paying money for that. Of course, no other CDN can beat MaxCDN, which the best service for its speed and security. After lots of testing, I removed CloudFlare and other free methods never works well again.
4. Never use images for your site background
This is a big mistake that many webmasters and bloggers still use. Background images look nice with every website, but, when you make a simple performance test, you will see with the results that a simple image adds an extra request to the server, and it slows down the page dramatically.
Instead of that, use colors if you should do that background. Colors will be served from the web browsers and not from the server. By avoiding using images, you’re making things better.
5. Fewer widgets make things professional
I’ve seen blogs with a long list of widgets, people add social profile badges, photos, and other things that no one wants to see in the sidebar. I’m not saying to make the sidebar empty, but, you need to think in the place of your readers. They need to learn, and not to spending all their time waiting for the page to be fully loaded.
If you should use a counter plugins for your social shares and other things, make sure that it updates the statistic after 30 minutes or something like that. Next, use icons and images hosted in your blog or in a CDN, and not the ones that the plugins gets from the official social websites.
Many plugins in WordPress, or extensions for Joomla allows to create custom icon images. Just browse their options and you can upload your social icons.
6. Use simple navigation menu
There is no need to add complicated menu items that come with icons, and other things that no one needs. In a previous post, I’ve talked about the menu icons and their use.
Many platforms offer great options to add images in every menu link. But, when you think about speed, you will find that these options are useless, and just a waste of time for you, and for your users. And also, for search engine crawlers, that will spend more time crawling your website with problems.
7. Test your website across different devices
This important because of the role of mobile devices these days. Everyone uses a smartphone and people can visit your site from a tablet also, So, it’s better to verify that your theme that, should be responsive, looks correctly across these different devices. Then, navigate on your site as a user, and test everything, like buttons or links.
Finally, create a list of things that needs optimizations, and work on them. Google offer great suggestion in their page speed tool, follow their tips and you will be happy with your site speed. Most importantly, people will come again, because they find the great experience.
I won’t talk about the CSS and HTML tricks that can break the theme in many cases. Just use one of the above services and you will get the same results but without problems.
These are some simple tips to apply, however, if you’ve got some other ways to make a website load faster, share them in your comments.