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How to make your website load faster

Fast loading website

A slow loading website is not just bad for your search engine rankings, it also turns away your visitors, or worse, your customers and clients. Search engines will abandon indexing your website if it does not load on time. They assume that your website does not exist and hence it is dropped from the search engine index. Google openly says that the loading speed of your website affects your search engine rankings.

Similarly an average visitor is quite impatient. Scores of other things are happening around him or her and in between them if he or she has to wait for more than a minute to load a single page he or she will certainly lose track or move onto another website. On an average a smart phone user won’t visit your website if the website doesn’t load within 3 seconds.

So how do you make your website load faster?

Tone down on images

Are you needlessly using images? Why are you using 10 images when 1 or 2 would be sufficient? Are you optimizing your images? Do you know that you can reduce the size of an image by almost 50% without reducing its quality? This is also called image compression. Do that with every image you upload.

You can also use CSS Sprites (here is a good explanation of these) so that the browser doesn’t have to make multiple HTTP requests in order to download multiple images.

Get your website hand coded

When you use GUI HTML tools to design your website they insert lots of junk code. This can considerably slow down your website. If possible, hand code your website or ask your web designer to do so.

Keep your stylesheet light

As you play around with your stylesheet, lots of extra code can creep in. Layout specifications that can be written in a single line don’t need to go on and on for 10 lines. There are many tools available online that can help you optimize your stylesheet in order to reduce its size.

Make JavaScript calls at the end of the document

In most of the cases you use JavaScript to create a friendlier user interface. But your content must be visible as soon as possible. So by the time your various JavaScript routines load people should be able to access your website. This can be achieved by making JavaScript calls (calling external JavaScript libraries like jQuery) in the end of the document rather than in the beginning (for instance, call the file in your footer area rather than header area).

Combine your CSS and JavaScript files

The more requests your browser needs to make to the server, the slower loads the website. If there are multiple CSS and JavaScript files a particular webpage is loading, it is better to combine multiple files into one file rather than loading individual files. Don’t worry about the size. More than the size, what matters is the number of download requests the server receives. So fetching a file containing 500 lines is much efficient compared to fetching 5 files containing 100 lines of code each.

Use caching

Caching means when a person visits your website for the first time all the necessary components like images, CSS and JavaScript are saved locally in the person’s computer’s cache memory. Afterwards, whenever your website is accessed from the same computer, the files that are cached are used from the computer rather than from the server unless they have been changed. This significantly improves your loading time. You can make changes to your .htaccess file to enable caching. If you use WordPress to manage your website or blog, there is a plug-in that enables you to activate the caching feature.