Speed is a vital component when it comes to the success of a website. In fact, approximately 40 percent of visitors will abandon a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load. This means a site owner could lose almost half of his or her traffic simply because it’s too slow.
When developers start a blog, a lot of them will worry excessively about search engine optimization. Keywords, phrases and backlinks are often at the top of lists. In reality, the actual performance of the blog is just as vital. It may even be more so in certain situations.
Below are a few tips to help developers start a blog that performs exceptionally well regardless if the user is on a smartphone or a super desktop computer.
Use the Right Size for Images
A lot of new developers often make the mistake of uploading incredibly large pictures. Using sizing options in platforms like WordPress, users condense the shape of the image so that it fits on the page. Unfortunately, this also means the site will operate slower.
An image is rendered by a visitor’s computer in its entirety, even if the HTML code states 150 by 150 pixels. This means pictures coming directly from a nice camera on a smartphone are going to be incredibly large simply because of the resolution.
Using the proper size of the image for what a creator needs keeps the files small and quick to download. Shrinking can be done in graphic editing software such as Photoshop. However, free platforms like Pixlr can be just as useful.
Keep Ad Serving to a Minimum
One of the biggest reasons why a lot of people create a blog is to make money. This is done by using systems like Google Adsense or affiliate programs. The more visitors come to the site, the greater the potential for income.
However, these types of systems have one major flaw: they can slow the site. Each time one of those banners or images pull information from a third-party location, it takes time away from the blog’s accessibility. Using tools like Pingdom will show those elements as “static query strings.”
Any element of the blog that needs to pull data or images from a third-party is going to affect speed. This isn’t saying that all ad-serving networks are bad. It does mean that care needs to be taken to keep the site’s performance optimal. It can be too much of a good thing.
Combining CSS Files
For every file that needs to be accessed, the blog’s time will be affected. Even if those files are small cascading style sheets, it does count towards performance. Combining CSS files into as fewer files as possible helps keep the site fast.
Unfortunately, combining some of these files may not be possible when developers use platforms such as WordPress. This is because many plugins will use their own CSS files. The way to get around this is to keep the plugin list clean of unused tools.
While it’s possible to edit systems like WordPress and force it to use a single CSS, any update to the plugin may overwrite changes made. As a result, the developer would have to make those changes every time there is an upgrade to those specific plugins.
On the upside, a very large portion of plugins and templates for tools like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal don’t utilize a lot of CSS to operate.
Caching is when the blog stores static data for the visitor so subsequent visits go incredibly faster. These are often stored in an individual’s browser for a specific amount of time. They can also be stored on the server-side of the site itself. Either way, caching is effective at increasing speed.
Developers can leverage browser caching in the .htaccess file of the blog. Using easy to learn lines of coding, just about anyone can set an image to “expire” after one year. This means elements of the site will be saved locally until 365 days have passed. At that point, the browser will download the “latest” version of the resource.
For those planning to use systems like WordPress, there are a number of plugins that are exceptionally useful at improving site performance through caching. For instance, W3 Total Cache is one of the most utilized and highly rated systems for WordPress for this very purpose.
Using a Content Delivery Network
A Content Delivery Network, or CDN, essentially saves various elements of the site on different servers spanning the globe. If a visitor from a specific location accesses the blog, the closest physical server is the one that shows those elements.
This greatly impacts site performance as it eliminates distance as a factor for poor speed. Why is this important? Because the network from one location to another could have a myriad of router hops that may impact how data is delivered. If a single router is experiencing an overload of transfers, the blog’s performance suffers.
Not all hosting providers supply a CDN, unfortunately. However, a lot of the better organizations give access to it for free with the ability to expand what it can do for a nominal fee. In the grand scheme of things for performance, this is often worth the extra money.
Speed Is Incredibly Important
Fast Internet connections and mobile technology fuel the feeling of instant gratification. People want information and buying power now. When developers start a blog, it needs to be efficient while giving the visitors what they want immediately. Otherwise, people could simply go to a competing website whether it’s to shop or get some information.