Everyone hates slow loading pages. The average user can easily be turned off by a slow website, especially because there is so much competition on the internet. Google even favors faster loading websites by listing them higher on search results.
What makes a website load slowly? Ever notice how some websites seem to load much faster than others? Most people are quick to point the finger at slow internet speeds or an outdated computer. However, quite often, it is the website that is loading slowly, not your computer.
So what do you do if your website is loading slowly? Here are a few things to look for:
This is the most frequent cause for slow website performance. It is also one of the easiest to fix as it requires no formal knowledge of web design. If you host images on your website, make sure they are optimized for web. This means reducing the file size, or even changing the file type, to make it a smaller and more manageable file without reducing the image quality to the eye. There are many great programs to help you with this. Photoshop has a feature called Save for Web Applications. If you don’t have Photoshop, here are some tools to assist you such as pngcrush and jpegtran.
One of the more common problems for slow running WordPress sites comes from widgets that are outdated, or need to connect to a database. Sometimes, people will install widgets that constantly require a connection to a database for every page. These apps can 4-5 seconds of load time that simply does not need to be there. The MailChimp plugin is historically guilty of doing this.
Images not Caching
When you load images and other information on a website, your web browser will save parts of that data (such as images), so that when you visit other pages that have that same content, it will load the content directly from your computer rather than fetching it from the web server again. This process dramatically reduces the load times of websites. Some websites don’t allow caching and are typically slower as a result.
To cache your images, update your web server configuration to provide an Expires header to your image responses from the server. For images that do not change often, you should specify a “far future” Expires header, typically a date 6 months to a year out from the current date.