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Website Performance Optimization… The Why & How
Sure, this seems like a pretty obvious concept, but have you really thought about why your site performance matters? Here are five factors to consider when measuring your website’s performance.
- Increased website performance can reduce your costs. Most hosting facilities charge based on bandwidth and storage usage. Many performance practices will reduce your storage costs and significantly reduce your bandwidth usage.
- Site performance has a direct effect on revenues. It is well known that site performance directly affects user abandonment rates. Simply put, the more users that don’t abandon sessions on your site, the higher your conversion rates will be, and the higher your revenue will be. This is especially important for eCommerce sites.
- Search engines like Google take site speed into account when determining search rankings. Don’t let something that can easily be controlled like “poor site performance” hurt your rankings! Although content is still more important to ranking than performance, why even take a chance?
- Mobile devices will soon out number desktop traffic. Every day more and more users are accessing websites with mobile phones and tablets, and mobile devices will soon account for the majority of all web traffic. Mobile users are even more sensitive to poor page loading and will abandon the site much quicker than a desktop user. If you ignore this segment of users, you will be left behind.
- It all comes down to better user experience. This goes without saying, right? No, it doesn’t! I can’t overstate the importance of user experience. If the user has a poor experience they will abandon the session, and repetitive poor experiences could lose you a customer/client for life.
Development Practices to Improve Page Load Time
You get the point, right? Website performance is important and cannot be ignored. Now let’s discuss a few best practices to improve your website’s page load time.
- Let the browser cache resources for you. Take full advantage of browser caching. It does not cost you anything, and it significantly reduces the number of requests for static resources from your server. Make sure you read the Google’s Page Speed section about browser caching best practices to understand it fully. This alone will reduce your server load and improve user experience.
- Implement Data Caching from the server side. One often overlooked caching option is data and server side caching. From the application side, you can choose which parts of the page can be cached on the server. For example, headers and footers rarely change and can be cached from the server side using techniques like output caching. Dynamic content delivered from a database should also be cached when possible. Content delivered from data cache is usually stored in memory on the server, so the server can access and deliver the data faster than making a round trip to the DB. Make sure to implement data caching for the heaviest requested areas of your site!
- Reduce DNS look-ups and redirects. Reduce the number of unique domain requests as much as possible. This will reduce the number of DNS lookups, which can be costly in the loading process. Also, ensure that your DNS Time to Live (TTL) are not too low because this forces some browsers to do more frequent and unnecessary DNS lookups. Finally, reduce or eliminate unneeded redirects.
Well, that’s it for now… Happy performance optimizing, and remember: it’s everyone’s responsibility to manage site performance, from graphic designers to developers and even content publishers.
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