Load time is a huge issue for web designers, clients and users alike. Those who are searching online for information are notoriously impatient and the demand for fast browsing is growing as better technology is being introduced by internet providers. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should jump ship and revert back to text-only designs – by following these simple tips you’ll keep hold of your beautiful site and improve its usability dramatically.
Obviously, the actual coding of your site can make a huge difference to its load time. There are a couple of things you can do to smooth out your coding issues:
- Use CSS as often as possible as a replacement for images. HTML images aren’t actually inserted into a web page – they are linked to the web page and allocated a space with the use of HTML. Using CSS can speed up your load time by eliminating the need for the browser to re-find the links. The CSS file will simply be downloaded the one time and be re-used for different pages on a site.
- Get rid of any redundant white space in your HTML. You may be surprised to learn that white space actually takes up a huge amount of your disk space, even though it’s used to de-clutter and stylise many sites.
When it comes to your actual server and database setup, take these points into consideration:
- Connecting to secure http pages takes a lot longer. Avoid using secure pages (https) unless you absolutely have to.
- Upgrade your web server, server memory and database server hard drive as often as possible to ensure that your site’s running at maximum performance. This is a factor that is often overlooked.
It’s a well-known fact that images slow down the load time of a web page considerably. Thankfully, images can be optimised quite easily by trying out the following tips:
- There is much debate surrounding which image formats produce the best results with regards to your load time. If your image is a highly detailed photo, you’re likely to want to use jpegs, but it’s well known that png images tend to load a lot faster. Whatever your preferred format, there are plenty of compression tools on the web that will improve your load speed too.
- ‘Slice’ your images. A common technique used by designers to cut a large image into bitesize pieces, slicing your pictures has been proven to speed up load times (although this point of view is often contended by experts).
- Make sure that the browser knows exactly where to place your images. Make use of the HTML height and width attributions and never leave them blank. After all, it’s important to eliminate confusion to make the load process as simple as possible for the browser.
Of course, there are several more generalised changes you can make to aid the improvement of your load time. You may find that splitting up long pages into several different pages will develop both your load time and the usability of your site, as users will be directed towards information-specific pages. By implementing a loading progress indicator, you can let the user know that their request is processing and reassure them that the load time is due to the size of the site’s resources, not their browser. Progress indicators can be customized as needs be and developed easily. Cookies also play a major part in your site’s load time, so you should keep the size of your cookies to an absolute minimum and get rid of any that are completely unnecessary.
Get in touch with your web design company if you believe that your load time is seriously affecting your site’s performance.