6 Ways to Speed Up Your Site

By Daniel Scocco

The load time of websites is one of the most important factors affecting its usability; most Internet users will just skip a site altogether if it fails to load within a couple of seconds. Below you will find the summary of the “Speed Up Your Site” series. Those are simple yet effective ways to make sure that your website is running fast. You can click on each point to read the article with comments from the readers.

  1. Optimize Images: always use the “Save for the web” feature included on image editing software. Images represent the heavier load on virtually any website so make sure you are optimizing them. Alternatively you can also turn to an online image optimizer.
  2. Image Formats: apart from optimizing images it is important that you choose the right format. JPEG format is suitable for photographs or true-color images. The GIF format should be used with flat-color images like logos or buttons. PNG works very similar to GIF but it supports more colors.
  3. Optimize Your CSS: most websites are designed with CSS nowadays. Make sure to aggregate and clean your CSS. CleanCSS is an online tool that will merge similar selectors, remove useless properties and remove the whitespace from your code.
  4. Use a Slash on Your Links: when a user opens a link on the form “http://www.domain.com/about” the server will need to figure what kind of file or page is contained on that address. If you include a slash (/) at the end of the link the server will already know that this is a directory page, reducing the load time of the site.
  5. Use the Height and Width Tags: many people forget to add the Height and Width tags on image codes. Those tags will make sure that the browser knows the size of the image before loading it. The result is that it will reserve a spot for the images while loading the rest of the page, speeding up the whole process.
  6. Reduce the HTTP Requests: when opening a web page every object (images, scripts and the line) will require a round trip to the server. This latency can add several seconds to the load time of your site. Make sure to reduce the number of objects and to combine CSS files and scripts together.


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88 Responses to “6 Ways to Speed Up Your Site”

  • Collis

    Wow I didn’t know that about the slash on links…

    A couple more for you:

    Use table layouts as sparingly as possible, CSS div layouts are much lighter on file size

    Reduce your Javascript. A lot of JS Libraries come packed with heaps of unnecessary code that you probably aren’t using

    Design a site to use repeating images and background colours to substitute for heavy image layouts. Note that this doesn’t mean necessarily compromising design quality, only that when you start designing you are already thinking about this.

    Anyhow, great post series!

  • Daniel

    Collis, good tips you have there, thanks for sharing!

    Using fancy backgroung images intead of simple background colors is a common mistake, I agree.

  • Genevieve Netz

    Great suggestions. I knew most of them, but the reminder is good. I should start adding the height and width parameters instead of just accepting the IMG tag that Blogger produces.

  • egon

    Another thing to help make it LOOK like your page is loading faster is to move “pretty” javascript to your footer instead of the header, that way your content loads first.

    Also, I suggest removing anything that is sitting on somebody elses server. If that server has high load and slow load time, so will yours, and that sucks.

    Image optimizing is important, and I highly recommend the Dynamic Drive optimizer that you linked to. I use it all the time.

  • Daniel

    egon, making the content load before the javascripts is a good tip. Actually the best sites are designed with that principle in mind, the content is the first thing to load so the user can start reading.

  • Manta SEO Solutions

    Good tips Daniel, also some good ones in the comments.

    egon mentioned not using content directly from other sites, rather host the content on your server (your host).

    Another important factor is to look at your domain host itself. I know it’s sometimes difficult to compare hosts, but test the speed of your site on your host. Cheap hosting may become costly.

  • Brian Auer

    These are great little tidbits that can be easily implemented. I’ve started doing some of these things lately, especially with the image height and width tags. I’ve got a photography blog and nearly every post has one or more photos in it, so this is pretty important.

    Another thing I did recently was change the layout of my div elements. First, I placed each div by absolute positioning within another “entire page” div so they show up and don’t move around as content loads.

    The other thing I did was move the content div above (in the code) the sidebar divs. Since I used absolute positioning, it didn’t effect the actual layout. I don’t know if this is good practice or bad practice, but it makes the content load first, then the sidebars. Plus I thought I heard somewhere that search engines like to see the content near the top of the page — but I may be entirely wrong on this. Somebody let me know if this was a dumb move.

  • Brian Auer

    Oops, I should have read all the comments a little more carefully. Content first — good.

  • Arpit Jacob

    I find that having too many web analytics slows the site down. Try to use only 1-2

  • Daniel

    Manta, yeah the hosting provider plays a very important role on the overall speed. But that is not something you can change overnight :) (actually you could… hmmm).

  • Roberto Alamos

    Another 2 things you can do to optimize your load time when using javascript are:

    1) Sometimes you just can’t put all your javascript in your footer (for example when using adsense or things in that line). For those times use the ‘defer’ attribute. If true, it tells the browser to execute the javascript code after the body of the page was interpreted and rendered.

    Example (hope it will be shown):
    <script src=”script.js” type=”text/javascript” defer=”defer”></script>

    2) Use optimized versions of your javascript libraries or optimize them yourself. A lot of good javascript libraries put at your disposition an optimized version that comes without comments, with a lot less spaces, less characteres, etc. If your library doesn’t have an optimized version, you can optimize it by “crunching” it, i.e. do all the things optimized versions of javascript libraries have.

    How to crunch? Here’s the explanation and how to do it: http://www.brainjar.com/js/crunch/

  • Jonathan-C. Phillips

    Great list, i learned something (i love that!), i didn’t know that adding a / at the end would help reduce loading time, makes sense. I use cleancss all the time, it’s a real time saver.
    Thanx for sharing this list Daniel. 😉

  • Olliemag

    Awesome. Thanks for the good ideas.

  • markus941

    Pretty solid tips. Consolidating javascript is a good idea.

    I would add Number 7 – speed test it

  • shrike

    These lists should always include turning on HTTP Compression.

    This is probably the best but least used option for speeding up web sites. It increase performance by a factor of 4-5 depending on the site. One needs to be a little care full as older browsers do not support but in general especially if a site is internal turn this on.

    And to reply to the obvious retort :-):
    No it does not slow down the web server in most cases. The time saved by pushing smaller packets through the web server, ability to cache more and the network card more than compensate. It also works well with dynamic sites.

  • Michal

    One of the most important aspects for php sites is good coding, especially the way you process database queries. Try use as little as possible.

  • mark

    Great tips! Another often overlooked (and obvious) point is keeping in mind the amount of content per page. Even if the images are optimized, having 20 entries or more per page can really slow down the load time of your average blog/site. Pagination helps a lot with this.

  • Armen

    I had no idea about the ending slash either. Thanks Daniel.

    Another thing bloggers should consider, is their initial theme choice. Some themes are slow to load even as a demo with hardly any content. That’s a good sign to not even consider using it, inspite of what it looks like.

  • Eli

    You’re not getting a lot of friendly feedback from the people over at Digg.

    They don’t seem to like positive comments, they think they’re fake :)

  • Navdeep

    Good ideas…

  • Chris

    How about making sure your html is compressed.

    I use wp-cache2 and this simple .htaccess hack got the page load time reduced by about 70%
    http://blog.iloaf.com/2007/03/15/make-wordpress-quicker/

    Also the whole html page renders at once rather than during the load so it appears “snappy” in the browser too.

  • code

    Great list — but “Use a Slash on Your Links” is so insignificant, it’s the odd man out on this list.

    Besides, it only improves speed if you are actually linking to a static file — if you’re working with Servlets for example, there is no performance increase. Maybe I’m the only one working with Servlets. :)

  • Daniel

    code, websites using apache will reduce a round trip with the / at the end of links. Sure it is nothing major for a single user opening that site, but if you consider popular websites with 100s of hits per minute than it sure help!

    Thanks for commenting.

  • Review Boss

    Hi,

    Thanks for the great tips. I’m just wonndering if there is any method or tools to optimize external javascript codes. External JS codes really killing load time of a webpage.

  • Jeff

    What about skipping all that and requiring all users to have a dedicated t1 line for their internet connection?

  • Complete Seo Tool

    Great Tips Denial ! Its all about general website , do u have any plan to write something about optimization of Image related sites.

  • AskApache

    Very Nice! You are missing some good ones though…

    http://www.skrenta.com/2007/05/14_rules_for_fast_web_pages_by_1.html
    http://www.askapache.com/web-cache/top-methods-for-faster-speedier-web-sites.html

  • Book Of Tips

    If you want lots and lots of tips, checkout http://BookOfTips.BlogSpot.Com

  • Book Of Tips

    http://bookoftips.blogspot.com/search/label/Avoiding%20Pickpockets

  • batter store

    Well, good idea

  • Speeding Ticket Lawyer

    Your tips on speeding up your site are dead on, thanks for the info.

  • Website Promotion – Frederrick

    Very useful tips and the methods suggested are effective and workable. Loading time is important as most of Internet users today are still on dial ups.

  • Aneesh

    My blog is loading pretty slow especially because of the javascripts that i use..Thanks for the tips..

  • jakes

    thanx for your good ideas…..really helpful in future..

  • snowgirl

    this is nice tuts

  • Web design tips tutorials

    Im not sure about this certain “rule” or tip. Is it true that having your CSS on a totally new file is better?

    As in, reducing your main .html file by separating the CSS section on a stylesheet file on its own..

  • Richard

    Call me an idiot? Where am I supposed to add the slash(/)/

    at the end of the image Ie dog.gif/

    Trouble with all the tips everyone always writes is that they are targeted at people that know website design etc

    Help would be great…

    Regrads

    Richard

  • seo traffic tips

    Thanks for these great tips.!

  • one million euro blog

    very usefull post really.
    Thanks alot.

  • will

    One thing not mentioned is memory preasure on a webserver. Most servers host 100’s of websites & if yours is not one of the most popular then your code will not be in memory.
    A popular method to get around this is to ping your web site. This will keep the site in the servers memory and keep your site responsive. I use a free service called Site Stalker (http://sitestalker.prestigedevgroup.com). They also collect stats on how often your site has outages and average response times.

    -Will

  • Tait

    Thanks Will, I check out Site Stalker and found out my web server performance was terrible. They had outtages every night for over an hour. I also noticed since my sight is now getting stalked that the performance has improved when first going to my site!

  • website design

    very good tips. One of my blogs loads very slow because of scripts put into it. I will follow your tips and I hope to speed up my blog. Thanks

  • zuborg

    I would also recommend this online free tool: http://Site-Perf.com/

    It measure loading speed of page and it’s requisites (images/js/css) like browsers do and shows nice detailed chart – so you can easily spot bottlenecks.

    Also very useful thing is that this tool is able to verify network quality of your server (packet loss level and ping delays).

  • Carazoo

    Thanks for the tips. I really didn’t know about the backslash. I will try the JavaScript thing in my blog. It takes a lot of time to load.

    Thanks anyway… :-)

  • Bang Kritikus

    How to speed up my blogspot ??

  • mommygoesonline

    great tips.. i got complain from partner and i’m looking for great tips to speed up my blog

    thank you

  • henry damanik

    thanks for this thing… can i get link to your web…
    and can i take this to my web….

    thank a lot for your kindness….

  • Michael

    Thanks for all the great tips

  • Amal Roy

    Thanks so much Daniel, i am have implemented all those steps in my blog except a few. Much appreciated if you could add some more ways.

  • Belize Real Estate Expert

    Hi Daniel,

    I’ve been reading your blog since the beginning…when you had less than 3000 subscribers. I remember when you crossed the 3000 number…you were quite happy!

    Anyhow, I had some extra time this morning and have been re-reading some of these classic posts….many of which are still very important today.

    I was wondering if you were going to do a re-fresh or update of some of these?

    Please keep up the great work, I attribute a lot of my current success to the tips I’ve picked up on your blog over the years.

    Warm Regards,

    David Gobeil

  • Chotrul SEO

    Great tips indeed. I would add in response to the comment about turning on http compression (to compress the html, javascript and css on the site) that you may or may not have access to this on the server. If you are using shared hosting – as the majority of small sites do, then you are sharing an IP address on a server, and don’t therefore have this option. It’ll either already be on, or you are stuck with it being off. Hope that helps.

  • Preeti

    Awesome post Daniel…We all knows that the loading time of websites is one of the most important factors ans we can’t ignore it…Thanks a lot for such nice valuable tips..It will definitely help a lot to come up with better speed..

  • Michael

    Quick tip for WordPress users. Try a combination of Hyper Cache + DB Cache Reloaded instead of WP Super Cache. I had much better results with this combo. It sped my site up quite a bit. Almost seems like its using flat HTML files now, its that much quicker. Super Cache didn’t really seem to do anything.

  • Rison Simon

    I think you can also minify javascript and css files into one so that they load faster. It is also great to use a cdn.

  • Jeff Faldalen

    Hi Daniel,
    I am so glad I come across this post. There are a lot of great tips here

    I have been looking into different cache plugins, trying to speed up how fast my site loads.

    Do you have any suggestions?

    I was suggest to use W3 super cache, but setting that baby up is a little
    beyond my understanding at this point

    Thank you for your contribution,
    Jeff Faldalen

Comments are closed.