There are approximately 1.8 billion websites on the world wide web. When it comes to the user experience, you have a very small margin of error to work with; it generally takes about 7 seconds for someone to get a first impression of your website. For example, research conducted by Google found that sites that load faster result in higher satisfaction amongst users and increased productivity; hence more time is spent browsing.
User experience and smooth operation are crucial factors to the success and reach of your website to customers. A well-planned and maintained website will be sure to create loyalty and popularity amongst your customer base. In order to ensure long-term success, here are some useful tips to help you streamline and smooth out your user experience;
1. Try To Improve Your Hosting Plan
One of the simplest ways to speed up your website’s performance is by assessing your server set-up. The majority of websites begin with a cheap option, such as shared hosting. As a site grows in size and traffic, they tend to slow down as the hosting capacity of the cheap server options reaches the limit.
This can be remedied by improving your hosting plan to a higher capacity and making the transition from shared hosting to a dedicated server(s) or VPS hosting. VPS hosting is probably the best option to go with for most, and it’s cloud-based, which allows for it to be easily scalable since it’s spread out over up to hundreds of computers.
Dedicated servers, on the other hand, are usually much more expensive and less flexible given that it entails purchasing hardware and operating it independently as well.
2. Optimize Image Formatting
Image sizes and formatting can have a huge impact on the speed and smoothness of your website. Generally speaking, the larger your images are, the slower your site is likely to be. There are several easy ways to counteract this issue hindering your website quickly and efficiently.
Changing the resolution of the image, compressing the image, or cropping the image, are all easy options that can help remedy the issue of images slowing down your website. There is plenty of in-browser and standalone tools and programs. From premium programs like Photoshop, a free program like Gimp, or an in-browser tool like picresize.com, they all ultimately serve the same purpose.
3. Consider A Web Design Service
A ‘jack of all trades’ solution that will incorporate all the tips mentioned in this article is a comprehensive web design service. Web design service providers https://kitching.ltd/ mention that some of the best offers in a custom made package includes;
- Custom website design
- Doman, email & hosting services
- Maintenance & support
- Optimization (SEO, page speed, traffic, etc.) & more…
By utilizing a comprehensive service, you can save yourself the time and effort involved in the entire website building, optimization, and maintenance process all in one go. You simply provide your criteria and advise the website builder(s) as the work on the site progresses until your desired goals and criteria have been fulfilled.
You then also get the luxury of having someone provide ongoing dedicated maintenance and support for any issues or changes that are deemed important at any point in time.
4. Look Into HTTP Requests
Up to 80% of a website’s loading time can be spent downloading the different aspects of the page requested. Items such as images, stylesheets, scripts, amongst many others, need to be downloaded for the page to become fully functional and presentable.
For each one of these items, an HTTP request is made, so the more components are present on any given page on the site, the longer it will take for a page to fully render. You can begin by finding out how many HTTP requests your website currently makes, then use that a benchmark for making new improvements.
A test for HTTP requests can be carried out for your website using a built-in developer tool such as the one found built into the Google Chrome web browser. It can also be carried out using online services with dedicated website speed tools, like those offered by Pingdom, for example.
These tools will help you identify the unnecessary or excessively large HTTP requests made when loading your page, so you can then make the necessary removals or changes as necessary to help your page load faster than ever.
5. Try To Avoid External Scripts
External scripts such as elements of JavaSript code, which are commonly used to add an extra interactive feature or library to your site, all make additional HTTP requests upon loading a page.
The following are some examples of external scripts that could be hindering your site’s ability to operate smoothly;
- External Commenting Systems
- Facebook ‘Like my page’ Boxes
- Pop-up Boxes
- Website Analytics Services
- External Fonts
- Icon Sets
Though there is no need to avoid these per se, it’s advisable to try to minimize their presence on the website page in order to ease the pressure exerted by the HTTP requests when loading.
6. Optimize JS and CSS Files
When it comes to optimizing JS and CSS files, two main methods are used, these are minification and gzipping (also known as compression);
- Minification – Minification works by removing elements such as whitespace, non-required semicolons, comments and reducing hex code length, amongst others.
- Gzipping – Gzipping (compression) works by finding all the recurring strings and substitutes them with pointers to the initial instance of the specified string at hand.
For optimum results, it’s best that you combine both minifying and gzipping together and apply it wherever possible around on your website pages. Minification can be achieved using tools like WillPeavy, BWP Minify or W3 Total Cache. Whilst gzipping requires directly configuring your server to do it. Once that’s done, gzipping automatically occurs without the need for any further attention.
By following the tips outlined in this article, you should be able to greatly enhance the user experience offered by your website and in turn, hopefully increasing customer loyalty, traffic, and browsing time. Most importantly, you will be increasing customer/user satisfaction which is the ultimate goal of any service online or otherwise.