Doctor Digital's Check Up - Performance
Managing your website performance
There are many, many factors that contribute to website performance, so I’ll cover how you can get some quick wins on your website. Often, the culprits are large unoptimised images or excessive page content – but thankfully this is something that you can address without too much fuss!
Your developer or host can also perform some magic and help configure things such as SSL certificates for secure (HTTPS) connections, compress files and code, and ensure that interactive elements and scripts are written using best practices.
If you are working with a web designer, developer or host, you can show them your Digital Ready Check Up Report and get them to fix anything that has a red warning sign or is missing from your website. I’ve summarised each of the key performance criteria below, so read on to learn more about how you can boost your website performance.
Images should be optimised to ensure smallest file size while retaining quality
Images are a great way to make your website appealing and engaging to your audience. But too many unoptimised images can take a hefty toll on your page speed – increasing the likelihood that a user will be discouraged and leave. Addressing this can do wonders for your website experience!
If you are using a template website or CMS, it’s a good idea to optimise images before you upload them to your website. There are many tools out there to help, and I’ve linked one below – it just requires a click to compress and the rest is sorted.
If you have access to a web developer, ask them about what options are available for optimising images on your website. Chances are they will come back with a range of options to help out, depending on the way your website has been created. Your digital coach will be able to advise you on optimal image sizes and types, so that you can incorporate that into your content strategy as well.
Force all users to a secure connection (HTTPS)
HTTPS is becoming the standard for the web, so it is imperative to switch over as soon as you can, even if your website doesn’t handle sensitive information. A website secured by HTTPS is represented by the little padlock next to the url in your browser; no padlock means that your website is not identified as secure. HTTPS encrypts information between the browser and your website, increasing legitimacy and blocking misuse.
The process of setting your website up to use HTTPS can vary depending on how your website has been created, so talk to your digital coach or web developer to get the process started. This is something that should not be ignored, so make sure there is a padlock in the top left of your browser next to every site you own and use.
The website loads slowly
A slow loading website will keep your customers waiting, and can result in them becoming frustrated or leaving your website entirely. In general terms, a three second load time is considered to be the threshold before frustration sets in. Slow load time can also have a negative effect on search rankings, so it’s something to keep an eye out for.
There are many components on a website that can contribute to slow load times, but thankfully most of these things can be addressed with just a small amount of effort. Some of the key factors are:
- Large images + videos on the page;
- Excessively long amounts of content;
- The loading of unnecessary code (causing bloat);
- The specifications of the website’s server not meeting traffic requirements;
- The location of the website’s server;
- Adding an excessive amount of animations + interactions to the page;
- Adding lots of plugins and expensive functionality.
The rest of the criteria in this section of the report will provide helpful starting points and optimisations you can perform yourself. Plus, you can take your Digital Ready Checkup Report to your digital coach or web developer to address some of the more complex or time consuming tasks.
Add "responsive images" to deliver smaller images on smaller screens
Mobile responsive websites are able to adapt to varying screen sizes and devices, and are now strongly preferred by Google. One concept of responsive design is the allowance for images to change according to the screen size, which can be achieved by using ‘responsive images’. This approach uses a suite of different variations of the same image, and the one shown on screen is specified using media queries and other code logic.
This approach prevents the page from having to load images that are bigger than the screen, and allows for designers to cater the content of the image so that it doesn’t crop out necessary parts. The theme of your website typically handles this code.
Some CMSs or template websites may allow for this approach to be used, but it’s likely that you will have to consult your IT specialist to configure responsive images for your theme.
Optimise animated content using an efficient format to reduce file size
If you are using any animated content on your website including gifs, video clips, and background video, it should be optimised using an appropriate file format to ensure that it doesn’t dramatically slow down your page loading times.
For video, embedding it from YouTube or Vimeo automatically ensures that your video is compressed and won’t interfere too dramatically with your page loading. This also makes it easier to share on other social media platforms, as you only have to upload the video in one place.
If you have animated content that doesn’t require audio, it might be beneficial to convert your video to gif format for faster load times. Talk to your digital coach or web developer about options available for your website and content, along with advice about how to manage your video content creation process.
Reduce the size of the page with less content or more efficient code
Every element on the page contributes to the load time, so it’s important to consider what information is necessary for your users. Elements can include content such as headings, paragraphs, and images, but also animations and interactions. It can be tempting to add lots of nice things to a page, but too much information and movement can not only affect your load times – it will overwhelm your users too!
Understanding what is ‘too much’ depends on the design of your website and how it has been developed, so talk to one of our digital coaches or your web developer to learn more about how to reduce the size of the page.