I recently moved my website to a new hosting company. The old host was slow, and, since my traffic has grown a lot, I was hitting the limit of their responsiveness.
While my new host is faster in general – in part because my site is hosted on an SSD – I managed to improve the amount of time it takes to load pages drastically by using a few simple techniques.
So, here are 3 easy ways to make your website load faster.
Start by heading over to Pingdom, and run a website speed test. Pingdom uses three different servers, so it’s a good idea to try them all. (Click Settings to choose which server to test from, or just run the same test several times; it cycles through the servers.)
My website used to take about 8 seconds to load the front page; using Pingdom, and making some simple changes, I have been able to reduce it to around 2-3 seconds.
I’m looking at my website’s main page, which has different articles at different times, some of which contain more graphics than others. So the time it takes to load this page will vary greatly.
Tip 1: The first thing I did was reduce the number of stories that display on the main page of my site. I use WordPress, and in the Dashboard, under Settings > Reading, you can choose this number. I used to have eight articles on the main page; I reduced this to five.
Next, after you’ve run a test with Pingdom, look at the load times for each object on your page.
Everything you can see in the graphic above loads quickly, but that wasn’t the case before. If you have any elements that load slowly, they may be depending on other servers.
Tip 2: For example, I use the Jetpack plug-in with my WordPress installation. It has a module that lets you put social media sharing buttons on each post. But it was slowing down my site a great deal, because the buttons had to check with servers to find how many times the post had been shared. It’s cool to have those little numbers on the sharing buttons, but they added a few seconds to my pages’ load times. I’ve since switched to a different plug-in, Simple Share Buttons Adder.
Check to see if other plug-ins are querying servers, slowing down your pages.
Tip 3: Another way to improve load times is to optimize graphics. I’ve recently switched to using retina graphics on my site, which are larger files. But I’ve also started using ImageOptim to optimize all my graphics. For example, the first graphic in this article was shrunk by 18%, but some graphics get optimized by as much as 50%.
(ImageOptim is a Mac app. You can also use Yahoo’s web-based SmushIt.)
Bonus tip: If you have a web host that uses Cpanel, you can enable compression in the Apache web server. On my Cpanel installation, in the Software/Services section there’s an Optimize Website icon. Click that, then choose Compress All Content. Click Update Settings to apply this change.
When I turned this on, after writing the first version of this article, my page loads were down to less than 2 seconds using Pingdom’s tests.
This not only makes your website faster, but also reduces the bandwidth that your site uses. If your hosting plan his bandwidth limits, then this will help keep you from hitting those limits.
I’m no expert in this stuff, but these simple changes reduced my page load time by well over 50%. If you run a website, and want to make it faster, these are some easy tips that you can use right now to speed up your pages.
If you have any other tips to share that can speed up web pages, feel free to post them in the comments below.