How do I fix a slow website? If you’re asking this, it’s clear your site takes ages to load. Not good. Click here for a guide on what you can do to speed it up.
A slow website is little more than a money pit. Why’s that? Because it’s not only failing to acquire new leads and customers, but it’s harming your online reputation to boot.
Visitors expect instant gratification, and they won’t stick around if you can’t offer it. For example, the bounce rate nearly doubles for websites that take five seconds to load compared to those that load right away. And once these visitors turn away, they won’t be coming back.
Are you asking yourself, “how do I fix a slow website?” Read our newbie’s guide to get your website up to speed.
1. Find a Dedicated Web Host
The very first mistake new website owners make occurs when they choose a type of web hosting. Between shared and dedicated hosting, the shared option is significantly cheaper. And that’s why everyone springs for the inexpensive alternative.
But as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for.
With shared hosting, your website exists on a single server alongside many others. This single piece of hardware has to manage data requests for every client.
During peak internet hours, the influx of visitors across all these websites can dramatically slow loading speeds. Even when the server isn’t bogged down from high traffic, shared web hosting plans offer weak performance. After all, you have to share.
A dedicated server is exactly that — a server exclusively for you and your website. This means better performance, fewer service disruptions, and faster loading speeds.
For most companies, investing in a dedicated web hosting plan will more than pay for itself by improving your customer conversion rate. In fact, it’s even a legal requirement for most e-commerce businesses.
However, a dedicated server requires technical knowledge. If you can’t handle the burden on your own, consider a managed WordPress hosting plan.
2. Enable Caching
Web browsers can save website data for later use in the form of a cache. While it won’t reduce the initial loading speed, returning visitors will require fewer data from your server the next time they drop by. As a result, future webpage visits will be blazing fast.
If your website repeats web elements, such as a navigation bar, caching your website will reduce loading times throughout the first session, too.
Since it’s so easy to enable web caching, there’s no excuse to be without it. If you use WordPress as your content management system, you can enable caching with a plugin like WP Super Cache. Some web hosts and website builders have built-in caching options as well.
3. Reduce File Sizes
The more information you have on a web page, the more data your server has to disperse. This backend process is responsible for website loading times. By optimizing your file sizes, you can reduce the amount of data and therefore the time spent waiting for its transmission.
Images tend to be the worst offenders. Even a small thumbnail image can have a massive file size depending on its quality. If you’re experienced with graphic design, you can manually edit photos and reduce file size without harming quality.
Or you can do things the easy way. WP Smush.it compresses WordPress images on the fly. Every time you upload an image, this plugin will optimize its file size without you having to lift a finger.
Videos, even when optimized, increase loading times, too. Only take advantage of videos if they are absolutely necessary for your website.
Swear you need them? Then avoid implementing a video player on your website. The better option is embedding YouTube videos since these won’t load right away — and when they do, they’ll draw data from Google’s servers and not your own.
4. Utilize a Content Delivery Network
If you have a slow website, you’re probably not using a content delivery network. A CDN can double loading speeds, especially for international users who reside far away from your web host.
Basically, a CDN holds copies of your website data within servers situated around the globe. Whenever someone accesses your website, they will download web page data from the closest server.
A CDN is mandatory for any business that offers services or products to customers on the international stage. Still, it may be a worthwhile investment for companies that have their main hosting near a coast. In the US, the West Coast and East Coast may be located in the same country, but they’re thousands of miles apart.
5. Minify Website Code
In addition to web elements like pictures and videos, web pages are mostly comprised of code. Unnecessary space and developer comments may seem trivial, but these can add up. And even though they won’t change the functionality or appearance of your page, they still contribute to the overall file size.
By minifying your code, you can trim the fat so visitors only download the essentials. It may sound technical, but like everything else on WordPress, there is a plug-in that does the work for you.
WP Super Cache, which we mentioned earlier, has this functionality. But you can also turn to a different plug-in if you so choose. Some settings may break your website if you aren’t careful, so be sure everything seems to be in order before pushing out the update.
How Do I Fix a Slow Website?
The reality is there’s no such thing as an optimized website. There’s always one more step you can take to improve performance, however minor it may seem. But if you follow the steps outlined here in our newbie’s guide, you’ll be well on your way to a faster website that attracts and retains visitors.
“How do I fix a slow website”, you asked. We answered. Most of these changes can be done in as little as one day, so what are you waiting for?
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