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Reference: How To Make Your Website Load Faster

Website design has a significant impact on how fast a website can load. Website design encompasses more than just the site's visual appeal; it also refers to how the site is coded, organized, and put together as a whole.

Some of the basics on how to make your website load faster are outlined here. If you prefer to have a professional design your site for you, contact us and ask about the iPage Full Service.

Table Of Contents

Make Images Work For You, Not Against You

Why Do Images Affect My Site Load Speed?

Image files take up a certain amount of memory based on the following factors:

  • The number of colors the image file type supports (image quality)
  • The number of pixels contained in the image itself (image size)

As your images increase in quality and size, they will take longer to load on your website.

How Much Could An Image Affect My Site Load Speed?

Assuming that your site visitors have an average download speed of 10 Mbps (1.25 MBps), every 1.25 MB of memory that your images consume will increase your website load time by one second.

Keep in mind that images only affect your site load time for the pages that they are shown on. So if you have a photo gallery page on your website, it may take considerably longer to load than your other website pages.

Should I Worry About The Display Size Of My Images?

Image size is one of the most significant factors that affect how much memory the image consumes. Here are some good habits to help reduce the effect that your image sizes have on your website load speeds:

  • Resize all of your images to match the exact size that they will be displayed on your website.
  • Avoid uploading images directly from your camera's SD card. These images are often much larger than your screen size and will drastically slow down your website load speeds.
  • Limit the number of large images that are used on non-photo gallery pages.

I Have Lots Of Small Images And Icons. Does That Affect My Site Load Speed?

Having a lot of images, no matter how small they are, can slow down your website because the web browser has to individually search for where all of those images are located on your hosting server.

To get around this, you can combine all of your small images and icons into what is known as a "CSS Spritemap" or "CSS Image Sprites." Check out w3schools.com for a simple explanation of how to use them.

What Are Some Recommended Image File Types To Maximize My Site Speed?

The image file type we recommend will depend on the contents of the image. As a basic rule of thumb when trying to optimize your website speed: use GIF for simple and animated images, JPG for photographs, and PNG for almost everything else.

Why Do My Animated GIF Files Take Up So Much Memory?

Animated GIFs contain multiple images played at specific intervals to give the illusion of a single moving image. As such, an animated GIF file containing 15 images will take up at least 15 times as much memory as a single image GIF file. You can reduce the number of animated images or reduce the image size to decrease memory usage.

How Do I Make My Photo Gallery Load Faster?

The general rule of thumb is, "The more photos you put on a single page, the smaller the photos need to be." An effective technique is to create a thumbnail version of each photo that links to the full-sized version of that same photo.

Of course, most modern website builders have their own built-in photo gallery tool. If the photo gallery tool is designed well, it should help you make your photo gallery run faster (some even create thumbnail versions of your photos for you). Other photo gallery tools might be so overloaded with extra features and graphical effects that they might make your site run slower than it usually would.

If you plan on using a pre-made photo gallery tool (such as a WordPress photo gallery plugin), we recommend that you take some time to research and see what sort of impact the tool will have on your website speed.

How Do I Know Which Hosting Plan I Need?

The hosting plan you need depends on your website needs. Because each website is unique, we encourage you to contact us for help with understanding which hosting plan would be best for you. When deciding which hosting plan is best, we keep these questions in mind:

  • How much storage space do you need for your website?
  • How many visitors do you expect to see on your site every day?
  • How complex (dynamic) do you expect your website to be?
  • Do you plan on streaming videos or doing any other high bandwidth activities?

Dynamic Websites, Dynamic Load Speeds

What Is A Dynamic Website?

In essence, a dynamic website can adapt its content to each visitor. RSS feeds, user restricted content, user logins, online calendars, reservation requests, in-stock inventory, and other features rely heavily on active (dynamic) communications with a database to ensure that the user has up-to-date information. Many modern websites utilize dynamic content.

How Does Dynamic Content Affect My Website Load Speed?

Dynamic content consists of several scripting files that calculate a page's content and then convert the final result into a static format. These calculations take time to produce the displayable static format, increasing your website load time. Decrease the number of calculations that your website needs to perform to speed up your website.

You can decrease the number of calculations your website needs to make by reducing the number of plugins and the amount of content your website displays on a single page. You can also improve subsequent website page loads by enabling server-side caching.

Is There An Easy Way To Speed Up Database Driven Websites?

The easiest way to speed up a database-driven website is to repair and optimize its database regularly. Learn how

Enrich Website Speeds With Cache

What Is Caching?

Caching allows websites with dynamic content to load faster than they normally would. Dynamic content consists of several scripting files that calculate what a page's content should then convert the final result into a static format to be displayed. Server-side caching pre-calculates this final result into a static format so that it can be displayed faster.

When Should I Enable Caching?

We recommend that you keep Your Server-Side Caching enabled at all times and only disabled the option if you are unable to see updates as you develop your website.

Are Their Other Ways to Cache My Site?

Some website builders or plugins might improve your caching capabilities and website load speeds (we recommend that WordPress users utilize the W3 Total Cache plugin). Note that the developers for some of these plugins might offer additional premium caching services for an additional cost.

Plugins, Take Only What You Need

What Is A Plugin?

Website building software comes with a core set of features to help you build your site. Several website builders (such as WordPress) allow you to add extra features, often called 'Plugins.'

Do I Need Plugins?

If you choose a website builder that does not come with a feature you need, then yes. Keep in mind that not every website builder supports plugins, so you may need to switch which builder you're using depending on the features you need.

Is It Possible To Have Too Many Plugins?

Yes. Plugins are usually packed with dynamic coding and features that may increase your website load time. A minimalistic approach is usually best. A good rule of thumb is, "If you don't need it, don't use it." You can purge plugins that are not needed for your website. Make sure to do a plugin review whenever you feel that your site is running slow. 

With that in mind, some plugins can increase your website performance and make your sites load faster (such as W3 Total Cache for WordPress). We recommend researching each plugin you plan to determine better how much it may impact your website performance.

Choose A Hosting Plan That Fits Your Needs

What Is A Hosting Plan?

A "hosting plan" refers to how powerful a website server is and what it enables you to do with your website. Web hosting companies often offer multiple hosting tiers, with each tier increasing in power, speed, memory, bandwidth, and storage limits. Hosting plans usually fall under one of the following tiers:

Hosting Plan Category
Recommended Technical Experience
Supported Website and Traffic Size
Shared Hosting Beginner
Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting Advanced
Dedicated Server Hosting

Google Can Help You Learn How to Speed Up Your Site

Google has created a tool called PageSpeed Insights which can help you understand how to make your website load faster. To use the PageSpeed Insights tool:

  1. Go to https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
  2. Enter your web page URL (it can be for any page on your website).
  3. Click Analyze.
  4. Google will then provide a list of potential issues and possible solutions for your website.

If you are interested in measuring raw website load speeds, several tools are available online for you to use.

Premium Services to Speed Up Your Site

SiteLock's Content Delivery Network

The physical distance between your website's server and your website visitors impacts website load speeds. The farther the visitor is located away from your server, the longer it will take for your website to load. With SiteLock's Content Delivery Network, you can minimize the effects of distance by distributing copies of your website across SiteLock's secure network.

Professional Website Design Services

Designing an attractive, fast-loading website on your own can be difficult. Please contact us and ask how you can leverage our professional services to make website development easier.

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