5.5 Easy Ways to Speed up Your Website without calling Your Developer

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    Increase your Website Speed and decrease your Page Load Time without calling your developer

    The speed at which your site loads is enormously important. And it’s not just that Google thinks it’s important, it’s that your visitors think it’s important. Make them wait around too long and your traffic will drop like a rock.

    A sampling of shocking statistics Hubspot sourced:

    • 64% of mobile users expect pages to load in less than 4 seconds.
    • A 1-second delay in page load time means a loss of 11% of page views.
    • A 1-second delay means a 7% reduction in conversions.

    Here are a few simple tricks you can use to improve site speed without calling a developer.

    1. Reduce Image Sizes

    It’s easy to upload large images from a stock photography site or your smartphone without noticing. At a minimum, these images are typically a couple megabytes (MB) each. Large images are bad for loading times on desktops, tablets, and especially bad for smartphone users. In order to combat large image load time, it’s important to optimize images for web by compressing and reducing their size. If you’re not an Adobe Photoshop user, then check out Gimp. It’s a free photo editing software that has a lot of features similar to Photoshop. If you don’t want to use a more complex photo editing software like Photoshop or Gimp, try a free online tool like PicMonkey. You can resize, crop, rotate, flip, and add various effects for free.

    Here are some guidelines you can use as a rule of thumb. Keep in mind every scenario differs but I’ve found that shooting for these work well.

    Usage Height/Width Range Optimal Size Range
    Large hero image, homepage banner, etc. 600px - 1600px 100KB - 500KB
    Medium to large inline paragraph images 200px - 600px 50KB - 100KB
    Small inline images 100px - 200px 10KB - 50KB
    Icons, thumbnails 25px - 100px 1KB - 10KB

    px = pixels, B = bytes, and KB = kilobytes

    Another consideration is the average smartphone screen size. In the US, devices range from 375 to 540 pixels wide. So, if you add a 650px image with text that wraps around, the text could wrap in an awkward way.

    2. Change Image Type

    The most prevalent image types found on websites are GIF, JPG, and PNG.

    GIF - a raster image that uses a lossy compression algorithm to minimize the size. Not good for photography.
    JPG - a raster image that uses a lossy compression algorithm. Great for photographs where high quality resolution isn’t required. Not good for images with text, and also forces a white background.
    PNG - a raster image that uses a lossless compression algorithm. This has mostly replaced GIF. images as a web standard but are often larger in size. Great for photography, images with text, and images with parts that are clear or transparent.

    Play around with various formats and see which best provides adequate resolution with the smallest size. Keep in mind the recommendations above with regards to photography and images with text.
    In addition to these formats, there are vector based graphics. The benefit of a vector graphic is that the download size doesn’t change because it scales to whatever size you desire. These require a little more knowledge, so I won’t go into any detail except to say they aren’t used for photography.

    3. Avoid Excessive Styling

    Most web content management systems provide a WYSIWYG editor (what you see is what you get). It’s basically a rich text editor that allows you to edit and format text, much like word processing programs. There are often features to change the font, font size, and color. Any time you use one of these features you add additional code to the page. For example, look at the snippet below.

    Tongue Twisters

    What would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.

    Sally sells seashells by the seashore.

    This has a title and two tongue twisters. The title was set to size 18, bold, and green. The woodchuck tongue twister was set to bold, size 12, and the font Comic Sans. Sally’s tongue twister was the same size and boldness but changed to blue. A typical WYSIWYG editor will produce the following code for it.

    <p><span style="font-size: 18pt;"><strong><span style="color:green;font-size:20pt">Tongue Twisters</span></strong></span></p>
    <p><strong><span style="color:black;font-family:Comic Sans MS">What would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.</span></strong></p>
    <p><span style="font-family: comic sans;"><strong><span style="font-size:12pt;color:blue;font-family:Comic Sans MS">Sally sells seashells by the seashore.</span></strong></span></p>


    Designers and developers everywhere are revolted, and I bet your site visitors aren’t too impressed either. Instead, keep it simple and use built-in heading tags for larger text.

    Tongue Twisters

    What would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.

    Sally sells seashells by the seashore.

    This snippet now becomes the code below.

    <h4>Tongue Twisters</h4>
    <p>What would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.</p>
    <p>Sally sells seashells by the seashore.</p> 


    You’ve achieved a smaller code base, and it’s more readable to your end user. Text doesn’t have as big an impact as images because it’s easily compressed. But it still matters.

    4. Avoid Plugins and Embeds

    Plug-ins and Embeds

    Uploading and hosting videos and other media on your own site can significantly decrease site speed. With so many social media and content sites, like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, you shouldn’t need to use your own site since these third-parties provide easy ways to embed content onto your site. 

    Another word of caution is that every embedded piece you add increases the overall load time of your page. Consider how necessary these are and whether or not they add any real value. One simple question to ask is, “Will this get users to call, email, or buy from me?”

    We’re all for useful content for your site visitors, but these features have a time and place but many novice content editors love to add whiz-bang content unnecessarily.

    5. Minimize Content

    Many novice marketers also love to add tons of unnecessary content to pages. They feel they have to explain every facet of their product or service and provide encyclopedias of information about their company. The lesson here is to learn how to be concise. If you write five paragraphs of information, you can very likely condense it to one. Your prospects probably don’t need to know everything, and the less important details can be conveyed in the sales process. What is the least amount of information your prospects and customers need to take the next step?

    5.5 Bonus

    Did you know that Google Analytics also offers suggestions on how to increase Page Load times?  To find this in Google Analytics, navigate to “Behavior” and expand “Site Speed”.  Click on “Speed Suggestions”. For every page, Google will offer ways to optimize page load speed (but some your developer might have to help you with).

    Additionally, free evaluation and recommendation tools exist. The only drawback is that you will have to go through your site page by page. (You can always export your top 5-20 pages from Google Analytics to have a prioritized list from which to work).


    Happy optimizing!

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    About the Author

    Matt Zentz

    Matt Zentz launched Marketpath from a small Broad Ripple bungalow in February 2001 with a focus on custom web application development. He built the first, basic version of a hosted CMS called Webtools and shortly afterward expanded his team and created the first version of Marketpath CMS.

    Matt has worked for a national consulting firm, taught computer programming to high school juniors and seniors , and led the information technology arm of the auxiliary business units at Indiana University.

    Matt graduated from Indiana University in 1999 with a B.S. in Computer Science and has built custom web applications since 1995. Matt is husband to an amazing & supportive wife, has three beautiful children, supreme master to Archimedes (Archie) the dog, and mostly tolerant victim of 2 flying rats (cockateils).

    He coaches various kid sports, enjoys furniture and home renovation projects, and plays guitar and piano. Matt is also active with his church as a parishioner, technical advisor and board member on the festival committee.

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