How to Create a Fast Website
Users love websites that are fast. And one of the ways you can deliver that is to keep your design simple. Simplicity? The main character in this story had zero understanding of this concept. And he may or may not have realized that download speeds matter.
Of Mustard and Mayonnaise
The shady character in question was named Alexandru Nemeth, from Germany. He targeted Swiss food giant Nestle with blackmail. The story started off very serious, with Nemeth poisoning random batches of mustard and mayonnaise. This meant Nestle had no choice but to remove the products from sale. This went on for two years and cost Nestle a lot of money. But Nemeth had not figured out how to extract any money for himself as part of his plan.
He then came up with an incredibly complicated (and ultimately stupid) idea:
Nemeth started to train carrier pigeons. When he was happy with their progress he sent them to Nestle with a note demanding his ransom. He wanted the Nestle executives to put top quality diamonds into little bags that he made. These bags were then to be strapped to the carrier pigeons. Talk about being bird-brained.
Did the Nestle executives fill the bags with diamonds? No way. They called the police instead who put tracking devices in the bags, which they then used to follow the birds straight to Nemeth.
Nemeth may have thought he had come up with a brilliant plan. But it was unnecessarily complicated and unworkable. And it led to his arrest.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish?
You will not be arrested if you have a slow and complicated website (yet!) but you can learn something from Nemeth’s foolishness. The best approach is often the simple approach.
You know that beautiful Flash animation on your homepage or, even worse, splash page? It is like Nemeth’s carrier pigeons. And the gorgeous high resolution pictures and backgrounds on your website that take forever to load? They are like Nemeth’s bags that were supposed to be filled with diamonds. Both are either useless or unworkable. And they’ll ultimately lead to users swiftly flying away from your website.
Ways To Create A Fast Website
There are many things you can do to make your website load faster. This includes:
- Use GZIP
- Use a CDN (content delivery network)
- Make CSS external
- Avoid redirects
- Reduce DNS lookups
- Remove duplicate scripts
However the first stage should be to simplify your design.
- Use Flash sparingly and never on your homepage
- Resize images for the web and never use high resolution, print quality images without resizing them
- Don’t rely on resizing images in HTML as that will only display the image in the size you have specified – the full image will still be downloaded
- Use JPEG images where possible
Doing these simple things will make your pages lighter. And it’ll allow them to load quicker. You can then move on to the more technical aspects of speeding up a website, as mentioned above.
Always remember that users want speed. By habit we all use the word “browsing” in reference to searching the Internet and looking at websites. However, the definition of “browsing” is: casually or leisurely looking at something. The users of your website don’t behave like that.
A word that better describes how a user behaves is “skim.” Build websites that capture the attention of people who “skim” the internet. The good news is that you don’t need carrier pigeons to track what your users are skimming.