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Ensuring your website loads quickly is a key element in providing a good experience to the people viewing your website. Here are a few key topics to consider.

Website hosting

Hosting should be reviewed when scoping a website. You should consider the size of your website, including the number and size of images you’ll be using, and what amount of traffic to expect on a daily basis. Then also way up how often you'll run campaigns and what are the predicted visitor numbers from them. What about seasonal traffic – does your website have greater visitor numbers at certain times of the year? Things like this should be considered. You may want to set up a jewellery ecommerce website that displays stunning high res photography, but when all those gooey-eyed romantics dust off their tablets for Valentine’s Day and find your website is unacceptably slow, you will miss out on your key seasonal sales.

Don’t panic though. The great thing about modern virtual hosting is that you can add additional performance resources to your hosting provision as and when needed, so if your website was to outperform your expectations on visitor numbers then you can add to your hosting package.

A few other things to consider when considering a hosting provider…. What are their processes for handling support (telephone, ticketing system, pigeon..)? What operating hours do they provide support? What arrangements can be put in place for the company to spring into action when an emergency occurs outside of their normal support hours? How long has the company been in existence? Which other companies use them? Are they a specialist provider for your platform/technology?

Your agency should be able guide you through this process. If you need help wherever you are in your project then feel free to contact us.

You can ramp up performance further, particulary if you have a plethora of media. Consider a CDN (content delivery network). This isn’t as heavy and techy as it sounds…. Amazon S3 is a good example of something that is lightweight, easy to manage and relatively cheap.

Optimise your images

Websites are becoming heavier with images and other media. Other than cheap shared hosting (see below), images are often the main reason for a slow website. Web design continues to give us more fantastic looking and media driven websites, and they should given broadband and mobile connections are continually improving. That said, badly optimised imagery is a constant issue that we see. We all want to see superb, impactful and crystal clear images but if you allow them to be saved out incorrectly then this will impact the performance of your website and ultimately it will drive some visitors away.  As a reference point, typically no image should be larger than 100 kb. You can get away with slightly higher file sizes if there are only one or two images on the page, but 4-5 500 kb carousel images are going to annoy people.

Save your images for use online, back down the quality a little and reupload them. You do not need an offensive Photoshop license to achieve this. Many content management systems (CMSs) are offer this functionality as part of the platform or via a plugin.

SVGs (Scalable Vector Graphics) can also be used and are particulary beneficial for the now default responsive website. They're small in file size but maintain quality and scale perfectly.

Considering video? Try not to reinvent the video streaming wheel, unless your video is sensitive material then normally it isn't worth going down the road of installing a media player on your website and hosting the video. YouTube and Vimeo are excellent tools, you may also reach an audience via those channels who you are not already connecting with.

Lazyloading

Lazyloading allows your images to only be called from the server when a user scrolls down to the part of the page where the image is shown and is then needed by the user’s browser. Lazyloading is particularly effective for deep web pages that are rich in imagery.

Lazyloading also adds an element of animation to your website.

Caching

One for the techies rather than you as a client. It’s boring and a little complex so I won’t bore you, but ask your developers whether you have caching enabled on your website and to what extent. Some content management systems (CMSs) provide this out of the box or via a plugin, so you can set this up yourself if you’re feeling giddy.

Optimise code

Another one for the techies. Bloated CSS, JavaScript and HTML files will not be optimised. Minimalising the amount of CSS & JavaScript called by specific pages will improve performance. HTML produced to good code standards will also combat unnecessary HTML. CSS sprites will also aid performance further.

Ask your developer, or ask someone impartial for a second opinion.

Mark Roper, Account Manager