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Why Should You Optimise a Website for speed?

Why Should You Optimise a Website for speed?

by Adrian RandallOctober 30, 2016

Before I explain why you should optimise a website for speed I’m just going to explain a little about what happens when you load a web page. In this instance by load a webpage I mean type a URL into a web browser and press enter.

As soon as you press enter a number of things happen without you even noticing and every one of them include data being sent from an origin to a destination.

  • As soon as you press enter your web browser creates a request (which is a small piece of data) and sends it to your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to request the contents of the URL you have entered.
  • Once the ISP receives the request it references it’s records to understand where in the world the web server with the content for the website you have requested is (if you are a technical person I won’t be going into ISP DNS Caching here)
  • The ISP then sends a request to the web server requesting the file needed to display the website.
  • All files are then sent to your web browser from the web server.
  • The number of files vary from site (the page you are currently looking at has around 80 – mosltly images) and web browsers can only download 2-8 files simultaneously (depending on the Web Browser)

So from let’s say you can only download 500kb per second (roughly a big image) and you had 15 images, plus some CSS files, plus some Javascript files and finally some HTML files. Let’s say the total is 5MB and there is 20 files, this would take roughly 10 seconds to download. However let’s say 4MB of that 5MB is images and we can compress them to 1MB. We now have have 2MB and 20 files it would take roughly 4 seconds to download. This means you’ve got a 60% decrease in the time taken to load your page just from optimising you images.

If you visit 2 websites and one takes 10 seconds to load and one takes 4, which one are you likely to have a better User Experience on? Ofcourse the one that loads faster as we live in a world where we are beggining to expect everything instantaneously. Google sees this the same way, the faster a page load the better they think the User Experience will be and hence the more favourably they will look at your site in search results.

Optimising a website for speed does not just consist of making files smaller. It also consists of things such as:

  • reducing server response time (how long the server takes to begin sending the files)
  • reducing database lookups (how long it takes to get the requested data from the database)
  • reduce the number of files needed to be downloaded  (this involves joining Javascript and CSS together into one file of each)
  • enable GZIP compression (this compresses the files before the server transmits them to the client)

If you are going to begin optimising your site for speed ensure you’re comfortable with the tasks you are performing. Generally anyone can optimise and re-upload images with a tool such as Kraken but a web developer or systems admin may be needed for everything else.

If you are not sure where to get started, comment below and we’ll try and help out.

About The Author
Adrian Randall
I'm a digital marketing specialist, love working on digital business and coding on just about anything. I'm the founder of Arcadian Digital and this site shares some of our knowledge and practices.

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