Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website Performance

Ankit Thakkar is a Group Head here, at Infidigit. He is associated with us for the last 6 years. He takes care of more than 40+ client deliveries, manages a team of more than 60 people and also takes care for product delivery at Infidigit. With his SEO strategies, he has won more than 10 awards in the SEO space. Ankit has always loved taking up new challenges and is focused on managing tasks efficiently and effectively. Helpful and Hardworking are a few of his skills that we love. When not working, he loves reading books, listening to music and watching series. In

Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website Performance

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    With time, users have started to wait less and less for a website to load, especially when they need it the most. Most developers spend a considerable amount of time in making their websites devoid of any flaws, especially attempting to reduce its loading time. It’s because the more time a website takes to load, the more its user experience begins to deteriorate Page. Speed impacts everything from brand presence to revenue. Why? Because a website is the face of a business, and once it underperforms, the business can potentially go downhill. 

    What is Website Performance? 

    Website performance has become a major interest for businesses, especially because an ideal website page draws user attention. But, what exactly is website performance? Website performance is mainly how fast the pages of a website load and render in a web browser. Ideal web performance also depends on how well it responds to user interaction. Web performance optimization is a general practice every business is adopting to improve website performance. A good website performance is the backbone of a successful website, especially because it decides whether a user will be interested in your site or not. 

    Importance of Website Performance 

    1. User Experience 

    It is natural that a user will shift to a competitor site if yours does not respond fast. People do not usually prefer websites that take a long time to load, also otherwise known for its bounce rate. The bounce rate of a website is one of the most integral factors every webmaster should focus on. As time have passed, 2 seconds has become the maximum time a website should take to load. It is how users decide whether the site they are viewing is effective or not. Most essentially, the longer a website takes to respond, the less satisfied users are.

    2. Improved Rankings

    Google’s algorithm is known to use several factors to rank search engine results. Many of the factors are used to gauge the authenticity of the website itself, like the quality of its inbound links – while others are usually related to the webpage content, like headers.

    Boosting the page load time is an efficient way to draw more customers. It can improve google rankings by attracting more traffic, and simultaneously spiking website ranking on SERPs. Improved rankings on SERPs can be achieved if you consistently keep track and check website performance.

    3. Capture visitor interest

    One of the major goals of an effective website design is to capture visitor interest as soon as the website loads. However, if your website takes an unnatural amount of time to load, it becomes clear that visitors will leave the webpage as soon as they open it. It is known that two extra seconds of webpage load time can potentially double the bounce rate of the page, which means about 53 per cent of mobile users leave a page immediately after it takes more than three seconds to load. High bounce rate is never ideal for any online business. Retaining visitors can only be easy if your website meets their initial expectations.

    4. Boost Conversions

    It’s no secret that there’s a robust link between website performance and conversions. Web performance deeply affects user satisfaction. The happier a user is when visiting a website, the more likely they are to purchase a product or avail a service. An ideal and effective website that meets the expectation of users also boosts their urge to convert it to sales. Any noticeable difference in speed can transform conversion to bounce rate. In simple words, your conversion rate will more likely plunge as your website takes more time to load.

    5. Brand Impressions

    The quality of a brand depends on how it portrays itself. The minor inconveniences caused by websites can affect your brand presence. In simple words, a slow website often instills audiences with doubt. It encourages assumptions, like whether your website is credible or not. Among many websites that load rather extremely fast, why isn’t yours? It leads customers to believe that your website isn’t secure, and is also illegitimate. At this point when technology is at its peak, brand perception has become everything you need for your business to boom.

    4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

    Website performance adheres to a couple of factors, especially Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Website performance directly impacts your position in search results. In fact, in the year 2010, Google introduced page speed as an integral factor that can potentially affect ranking algorithms. Since then, many websites have acquired a fast loading speed, especially because it can harm their ranking. While the loading speed is not directly a concluding factor of SEO, it can still actively contribute to declining page relevance. For instance, if a search engine finds relevance in both your and a competitor’s website, the one that loads fast can rank higher. 

    Tips to Improve Website Performance 

    1. HTTP Requests

    When a user visits your website, several corresponding files, such as the Javascript Library References, are sent to the browser of the user. It’s natural for websites to use HTTP or Hypertext Transfer Protocol because these are quite integral for a website to fully render. The browser first forwards an HTTP request to the website’s hosting server. However, most web pages appear quite complicated and often require multiple HTTP requests in order to render completely. Here, HTTP status codes are part of the picture too. When accessing a webpage, the browser you’re using sends out a request to the web server. Based on whether the transmission was successful, the web server can potentially return numerous responses, often also known as HTTP status codes. Thus it is best to minimize any HTTP requests that are unnecessary.

    2. Minimize Page Load Time

    A page that takes more than three seconds to load isn’t quite credible for users. It is best to minimize the page load time to avoid losing audience, and improve website performance. Reducing its loading time can augment the value of your website, and also simultaneously enhance its speed time. The importance of pagespeed is growing, making it vital to minimize page load time.

    3. Browser Caching

    When a user clicks to visit your website, the browser downloads stylesheets, images, HTML documents – among others – prior to displaying your page. Immediately after the page loads, the files get stored in a cache, or simply a temporary storage. This happens to allow effortless user visits the next time they open the site, without having to send another HTTP request back to the server. The loading time reduces once users visit a website multiple times. Therefore, enabling browser caching is highly important for boosting website performance and reducing loading time after a user’s first visit. Setting it for about a year is considered ideal, since exceeding that time can violate RFC guidelines.

    4. File Compression

    Larger web pages take an unusually long time to load. This is where file compression comes into the frame. One of the best ways to do the same is by compressing a file, or simply ‘zipping’ it. File compression is another effective way to improve website performance. Usually, file compression helps deliver necessary files quickly over the web. In a nutshell, a compressed web server shrinks the necessary file, without actually losing information, prior to sending it forward. When a browser retrieves the compressed file, it starts rendering it to the normal size, allowing decompression.

    5. Optimize Images

    The size, format and source are the three major facets of images of your webpage. Oversized images can potentially take a longer time to load, which is why image optimization is imperative. It is integral to render images at their correct size and format it likewise to improve website performance. You can do the same by editing the required images, cropping them to the ideal size and simultaneously bringing them to an adequate size ratio. This can help you minimize the size of the image for better web performance. Besides, using .jpg and .png, as part of the formatting, can be the best choice

    6. Above-the-fold content

    For best results, it is recommended to use just one CSS stylesheet, further avoiding extra CSS files. However, there is one distinct facet that you should consider. You can effectively boost website performance by dissecting your CSS into two segments: which is one small in-line division used to style above-the-fold content, alongside an outer segment that can simultaneously be deferred. Following the same, you can set the Above-the-fold to load faster, even if the rest of the page takes quite some time to load fully.

    7. Minify your HTML, CSS and JavaScript files

    While using WYSIWYG resources to build a web page, it can actively form disorganized and cluttered code that can lead to a slower website. This is why it is imperative to eradicate any extra space, line breaks or even indentation in your code to avoid any form of loading time issue. You can find numerous tools online that can assist you to minify HTML, JavaScript files and CSS.

    8. Hosting 

    While several web performance optimization practices try to target the front end of a website, the accurate web host is most likely the major foundation of a successful and high-quality website. A poor server can only greet flaws and low-grade performance, making it important to invest in hosting that can similarly tackle traffic incrementation and request spikes. While the cost of shared hosting can potentially sound daunting, it is equally important to remember that you’re going to split the server resources with multiple websites. Any increment of activity on their website can impact yours, making it vital to choose a plan above shared hosting to keep up the pace.

    9. Content Delivery Network (CDN)

    Servers are basically computers situated somewhere around the world. In fact, the broader the distance grows between HTTP requests and the server, the longer your website will take to fully load. That being said, it is significant to understand where the server ping is originating from since your website is likely to perform differently in certain places. For instance, what Mumbai will see, Kolkata might not. However, this has a solution too. Content Delivery Network (CDN) is mainly a collection of servers that lay distributed across the globe to basically withhold cached website copies. CDN is responsible to deduce the closest location of the server and deliver the concerned files accordingly.

    10. Try to minimize redirects

    Enhancing your website performance arrives only after minimizing the number of redirects. It is one of the major issues to consider for improved website performance. Often, redirecting users can lead to additional HTTP requests, and actively spike the loading time. This is the major reason why you should minimize the number of redirects, regardless of whether you have worthy and reliable web pages. 

    Tools to Monitor Website Performance 

    1. Pingdom:

    Pingdom helps you to examine the load speed of the required website. It offers a free website speed test necessary to evaluate whether your website has an effective load time or not. It can assist in monitoring requests and files to visualize the cause behind poor website performance.

    2. PageSpeed Insights:

    Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool is another popular choice for businesses. It helps evaluate website performance on desktops, as well as mobile devices. A minimum score of 80 or above is often considered high-powered and potent. PageSpeed helps websites attain high standards in terms of performance by offering a detailed outlook of several imperative metrics to look into.

    3. GTmetrix:

    Powered by Lighthouse, GTmetrix performance tool also gives an in-depth overview of performance, and simultaneously also offers imperative changes to include. GTmetrix is also quite helpful in determining website performance since it offers speed visualization, test recordings, content waterfalls among many others, to track enhancement over the course of time.

    4. WebPagetest:

    WebPagetest is also another effective tool that measures a page’s loading time, now in various different locations, with the help of several browsers like Firefox and Safari. WebPagetest is a better choice for web specialists, instead of those who just want to retrieve a brief outlook of the webpage. You can now easily measure website performance via WebPagetest. 

    Website Performance Metrics to Track

    1. Load Time

    The load time of your website is the time it takes to load a whole web page. It is calculated from the point a user requests a website until the point it is fully rendered. When we claim that a website should take a minimum of two seconds to load, it is in fact the metrics that we are trying to refer to.

    2. Time to First Byte

    Time to First Byte (TTFB) usually helps analyze the latency of a web server. In a nutshell, it falls between when a user requests a particular website and the reciprocation of the first fragment of information of the concerned browser. Ideally, it is best to avoid a slow TTFB.

    3. Time to Start Rendering

    Time to Start Rendering is the time websites are known to take for illustrating the content after the request has been made. This helps measure the time it takes to load content before the user knows. It can be denoted by any singular element, such as a text block or the background.

    4. Time to interactive

    Time to Interactive is another major element that is responsible for measuring the time from which a user has requested the site until the point they start using and interacting with it, such as scrolling through the website or taking certain actions. While the element shows, it does not mean the entire page has loaded. It can simply take up about a couple of seconds to fully render.

    5. DNS Lookup Time

    DNS Lookup Time is the amount of time it takes for DNS (Domain Name System) to gradually convert the domain name which the user primarily entered, to its corresponding IP address. It is imperative to note that DNS should not be any longer than about 150 milliseconds.

    6. Sessions

    Session Duration, also otherwise known as Time on Site, can actively contribute to slower web pages. In fact, if it actually plunges very low, it can potentially hint that several users are apparently not getting past the first-page load.

    7. Bounce Rate 

    The bounce rate of a page is basically its percentage of individuals that visit the site but leave immediately without taking any action, including even scrolling. Assuming that a page is extremely slow, it is natural that people will leave immediately after they open it. However, bounce rate isn’t only caused by slower loading time, but also because it didn’t catch user attention.

    8. Conversions

    Conversion rate is the total number of users that visit your website, usually to complete a whole conversion. In simple words, conversion means to take action, whether by availing a service or buying a product. It is true that visitors who like your website will convert more than visitors who don’t. Poor web performance can lead to lost conversions. 

    Bottom Line 

    Website performance goes beyond making a page load faster. It is about making your brand presence more authentic, driven and credible to new users, as much as the old ones. It’s important to remember that the goal of a brand is to gain the user’s trust by and large.

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    Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website Performance