As a load testing company, performance is something we care about. While load testing is something that’s very important to consider, there are a few things that you can do before you load test that will improve the speed of your website. From reducing the number of requests to enabling browser caching, here are six simple things that you can do to increase the performance of your website.
Minimize Server Response Time
One of the first things to come to mind when discussing ways to improve a websites performance, is the server’s response time. To get started, it’s best to start using a website/application monitoring tool (ex. New Relic, Nagios, etc.). These tools will help you locate any issues that may cause bottlenecks; issues that once are fixed, will reduce your server’s response time. According to Google, you should try to get your server response time under 200ms.
Enable Website Caching
There’s a reason why most websites cache data: your users will have a faster browsing experience. Cached elements stored locally on a user’s computer help the website seemingly perform faster, at least, on the user’s end. Rather than having to reload every element on ever page refresh/request, caching stores components so that when users load other pages or come back to your website, it will load faster, so be sure to always enable caching.
Optimize Images and CSS Delivery
Pictures have always been something that can hinder website performance, making it important that you optimize all of your websites images. What do we mean by optimization? Well, start off by reducing the overall size of your images, and even compress them. Obviously the more 2560×1600 sized images you have on your site, the slower it will probably be, so be sure to reduce the size of your images. Instead of changing an images width after you’ve uploaded it, re-size the image before your upload.
Additionally, it may be wise to compress images (as long as it doesn’t reduce the quality) with tools like ImageOptim. Certain types of files can also help with image optimization. Typically, .jpeg and .png image files are the way to go while it’s best to avoid BMPs and TIFFs. Finally it’s also wise to delete any and all empty src image codes.
You can also improve your websites performance by optimizing CSS delivery. First, try and avoid using any CSS in HTML code as it will only add even more HTTP requests. Next, be sure to incorporate only one external CSS stylesheet. There are a few tools out there that can help you locate all of your external stylesheets and others that can combine CSS files. CSS Delivery Tool can be used to find all of the external stylesheets on your website and here’s a guide to combining CSS files.
Try to Limit Use of Plugins
There are a seemingly endless amount of plugins out there that we can use on our websites, many of which are quite beneficial. However, 3rd party plugins can be a bit tricky when it comes to website performance. You have to depend on their developers to provide updates and security patches, which is something that can often be frustrating at times. The more plugins that your site uses, the slower it will be. So try to limit your use of plugins and delete any that you don’t depend on or ones that reduce your website’s performance.
Compress Your Pages
Compression and performance go hand-in-hand, so you want to definitely ensure that you’re enabling compression on your site. Compression can help limit your site’s bandwidth, so it’s a definite must. Tools like Gzip can help you compress certain parts of your website in addition to compressing files before a user downloads them.
Reduce HTTP Requests
HTTP requests can also take a toll on a website’s performance, as every time your browser loads a component, an HTTP request is made. The more components (images, scripts, API’s, plugins, etc.) that you have on your website, the more HTTP requests will be made. And the more HTTP requests are made, the slower your website will perform. So for best practices, ensure to minimize the various components on your website, reduce your scripts, opt for CSS over images, and combine your multiple style sheets into just on. Essentially you want to take a minimalistic approach to your website’s UI design. The “smaller” your website is, the faster it will load.