Here are a few website speed-boosting techniques you shouldn’t miss.
If your website is not loaded within 3 seconds, you may lose potential revenue and miss a higher search engine ranking. Similarly, if not secure enough, you give an opportunity for hackers to hunt down your website for reputational & business losses.
Consequently, one cannot escape from security and performance tweaks for a better and safe user experience.
So, when we talk about performance optimization, we hear things like enabling compression, minifying the files, caching, using lightweight themes, keeping minimum plugins, etc.
They are fine, but there is so much more we have listed in this article that you can apply to any platform, like WordPress, Joomla, Magento, Drupal, Node.js, etc.
Let’s see what you have already and what not.
Good Hosting Package
Sometimes the only mistake you make is choosing a bad web host and a shared hosting plan.
But personally, I think it’s not about bad hosts. It’s chiefly about ultra-cheap hosting subscriptions.
Something is wrong when your monthly hosting bills cost less than a cup of coffee.
Assume shared hosting as an overcrowded bus nobody wants to get into but creeps in anyways because of an “attractive” fare.
The most lucrative things about shared hosting are the introductory discounts and the unparalleled opacity about how many websites share a single server.
Let me break this to you; those numbers are normally in the hundreds.
This leads to frequent noisy-neighbor performance bottlenecks, and a major portion of such websites never live enough to see the first page of a Google search.
Conclusively, switch to VPS or dedicated servers for the projects that matter.
Content Delivery Network
CDN, short for content delivery network, is second in line after you choose a good web hosting package.
This is needed for anyone having a global audience. The reason is you can’t host a website everywhere; it remains stationed in a single location. So, distance plays a spoiler when you have a Japanese user trying to access your website hosted in NYC, the US.
However, subscribing to a CDN like Cloudflare takes care of this localization issue. A CDN hosts copies of your websites on its server network and serves requests from the nearest server. This reduces the load on a single central server which might be located oceans apart.
In addition, based on the CDN, you might enjoy higher security than what a regular web host can offer.
IPv6 is faster than IPv4. LinkedIn found a 40% improvement in Europe, and Facebook around 10-15% by accessing over IPv6.
Please take a look at the IPv6 adoption graph globally by Google.
Approximately 42% of users connect to Google over IPv6, but there are only 21.2% of IPv6-enabled websites.
Interestingly, Cloudflare found that IPv6-enabled web pages load 27% faster than their IPv4 counterparts.
So, does your website have IPv6? Not sure! You can test it online.
In case it’s not, here is how you can do it.
Most of the CDN providers like Cloudflare, Incapsula, CacheFly, AKAMAI offer IPv6. You can check the control panel to enable them.
If not using CDN and hosting on VPS like Linode, DigitalOcean, etc., then refer to this to allow IPv6 in Nginx and Apache web servers.
Having IPv6 doesn’t harm anything and would be fun for a quick win of around a ~10% decrease in page load time.
Go for HTTP/3 or HTTP/2
HTTP is the evolving technology used to load web pages when we visit any URL in web browsers.
It all started with HTTP/0.9 in 1991 and was followed by updates like HTTP/2 and the current greatest HTTP/3.
HTTP/2 brought many benefits over HTTP/1.1, including:
- Server push
- Resource prioritization
- Header compression
- Low latency
At present, it’s being used by 39.3% of websites and is seven times faster than HTTP/1.1. By switching over to HTTP/2, you can expect to decrease page load time by up to 30 to 40%.
However, HTTP/2 has its own problems.
For instance, it suffers from head-of-the-line blocking. Here any TCP connection issue can result in all streams being blocked. But with the UDP-based HTTP/3, a single packet loss does not affect every other stream.
In addition, HTTP/3 allows for lower latency by avoiding TLS handshake on reconnects. Overall, HTTP/3 brings all the goodness of HTTP/2 but without the associated drag.
You can check for HTTP/3 or HTTP/2 support with your web host. Alternatively, your CDN provider might have a simple toggle to your preferred HTTP version.
Nobody wants to go through a wall of text which makes images an unavoidable part of every web page. On the other hand, having images on a web page makes it heavy and shoots up the page load time.
So, the solution asks for serving images in a comparatively lighter format like WebP or AVIF. Not only does it reduces the size drastically (more than 80% in some cases), the output quality remains essentially the same.
Now, either you can convert and upload directly in these next-gen formats. Or, subscribe to a 3rd-party conversion service, like Optimole, to do this on the fly.
Cut down excess HTTP requests
And all other things kept equal, a web page with less no. of HTTP requests loads faster than one having more of them.
Conclusively, it’s in our best interest to make the number of HTTP requests as low as possible.
From my personal WordPress experience, I can say choosing a lightweight theme like Generate Press helps. In addition, reducing the number of plugins also contributes to having a fast and secure website.
However, it’s a subject of its own which needs special attention.
Specifically, check this make fewer HTTP requests if you have got a WordPress website.
Switch to Web-safe fonts
We all want our websites to look unique and user-friendly. And the first step many take is to switch to a different font.
And luckily, there are a few free options, including Google fonts. However, this will add multiple HTTP requests. And to make it worse, your website will fall back to the system fonts if the third-party font server ever goes offline.
To counter this, some webmasters self-host fonts on their websites, a move towards self-reliance. However, it still adds a file that needs to be loaded from your server to the user’s device. This means additional HTTP requests, which entail a performance drag, no matter how little.
Consequently, there are certain web-safe fonts that you can use for the fastest possible experience without risking a font swap during a server failure. These fonts are called system fonts and are common among Windows PCs, Macs, Linux systems, iOS, Androids, etc.
Here are a few web-safe fonts:
- Times New Roman
- Impact, etc.
Caching means storing data locally. This ensures the fastest possible website loading on revisits. And it’s often recommended by experts to deploy caching to reduce loading times.
For instance, WordPress has many cache plugins, such as WP Fastest Cache. Alternatively, one can deploy browser caching by editing the .htaccess file.
However, it’s based on the platform, and there can be different ways to implement this.
This is another page straight from my personal WordPress experience. Actually, what happened is Google Search Console issued a warning about my 40+ blog posts that failed the core web vitals test.
Core web vitals is Google’s page assessment and is important for everyone trying to rank high on its search engine.
To understand this further, check this Pagespeed analysis on one of Geekflare’s articles:
Thanks to our WordPress developers, it passed these tests with flying colors.
But on my personal project, I was particularly failing in Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) and First Contentful Paint (FCP). Specifically, LCP was 3.3 seconds, and FCP was around 2.4 seconds.
Being a blogger with a non-IT background, I could not optimize it beyond a point. On my scale, I was ticking all the right boxes: premium theme, no extra plugins, system fonts, WebP images, cloud hosting, etc.
What helped is a single toggle in Jetpack boost WordPress plugin:
defer attributes on
<script> tags. This way, the scripts load separately in the background without blocking the page construction.
For me, this single measure brought down LCP and FCP to 1.7s and 1.2s, respectively.
Ideally, there should be no redirection for the best possible website performance. However, we all use link redirection at some point.
Still, the rule is simple: every redirection adds some time to page loading. Add too many redirections, and the user will bounce off to someplace quicker unless your business is the Apple store of the internet where people line up to get the new release every time 😀.
Careful with videos
Videos improve on-page time and help avoid text monotony. They are an excellent upgrade over images and are many times unavoidable.
And the most obvious way to do that is by embedding YouTube videos. However, you can compare two web pages with and without YouTube videos with Google PageSpeed to evaluate what heavy toll these embeds take on a web page performance.
To illustrate, I have published two posts on our test website. One has a YouTube video without anything else (no text, images, etc.), and the other one has nothing. Next, I compared those two in Google Pagespeed.
Can you see the effect on Total Blocking Time, Speed Index, FCP, and LCP? In particular, it added a whole second in total blocking time, which is enough to encourage users to switch to the competition.
To confirm these results and to get some more information, I ran these two URLs in the Pingdom Website Speed Test tool.
You can check a single YouTube video added 23 extra HTTP requests, increased page size & load time, and degraded the overall performance grade.
However, there are a few performance tricks to cover this drop. First, one can opt for asynchronous loading for videos which will help in reducing total blocking time.
In addition, lazy loading is also possible. Especially you have many YouTube embed WordPress plugins to do the hard work for you.
Lastly, embedding the video thumbnails is better, which loads the video only when it’s clicked.
This might feel like a drop in the ocean, but minification indeed makes things slick.
Minification removes unnecessary elements from the source code, including extra whitespaces, semicolons, comments, line breaks, etc., and makes everything compact.
Based on the platform, you might have to do this or have a tool minify everything for you. However, it’s always best to keep backups of the standard versions as it’s close to a nightmare to modify minified code.
Still, a machine can read all that compact code just fine, and you will notice marginal performance enhancement.
Use web compression
Web compression is similar to zip but works on web files to cut page load times and is supported by modern browsers.
There are two options to go: Gzip and Brotli. Most likely, your web host will have one of the two applied.
However, you can still test the compression to verify which one is enabled on your website. And ask the web host or consult a web developer to deploy compression if there is none.
You can call it the extension of the HTTP requests section, but this needs a separate mention.
External elements on a website comprise everything that’s not native, including but not limited to ads, analytics, plugins, forums, etc.
Such elements add extra code to your website, which adds to HTTP requests and more, making your website bloated and less user-friendly.
Agreed, a few are just on every website, and you can’t avoid them as well. Still, be minimalist in this sense, and experiment with different services to pick one with the least performance impact.
A Faster Website!
Website performance is never a set-and-forget thing. The world wide web evolves every minute, and it’s best to stay informed and adapt quickly for top-notch speed and security.
However, security is equally important as speed.
And being WordPress experts, we can’t help but tell you about some of the best WordPress security practices.