Web Performance Optimization (WPO) – What, Why and HowSaraschandraa M
If you create a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load on mobile, you will be losing 53% of visitors. They will just abandon the site and go somewhere else to find the same information or buy the same product. (Source)
And that can cause serious loss in the long run, right? Well, that’s where Web Performance Optimization (WPO) techniques come in handy.
What is Web Performance Optimization?
Web Performance Optimization or WPO is the practice of improving a website’s performance. In other words, WPO is the process of speeding up the webpage so that it takes less amount of time to load.
Why is Web Performance Optimization very important for a website?
Websites today are not like they used to be a decade ago, plain and mostly text-based. Today’s websites are colorful and contain lots of images, animations, and other web elements that make them load slow. And, nobody likes to visit a slow website.
Here are some reasons why web performance optimization is necessary. A performance-optimized website:
- has better engagement and conversions
- reduces the server costs by reducing the bandwidth usage
- has better chances of ranking higher in the search engines
- reduces the bounce rate
- offers a better user experience
- increases the chances of users returning to the site, and
- ultimately increases the ROI
Web Performance Optimization Tips
Let’s take a look at some important WPO tips:
1. Reduce the number of HTTP requests
Reducing the number of HTTP requests is a great way to speed up your website and increase performance. And not just that, less number of HTTP requests also decreases the server load.
- combine stylesheet and script files
- minify HTML, CSS, and JS
- serve scaled and compressed images
- remove unnecessary images and other files
- reduce the number of external scripts
Basically, the point here is that more website files mean more HTTP requests and the bigger website files mean longer HTTP requests. And while optimizing a webpage for performance, your main goal should be to reduce the number of files and the size of files.
You can use GTMetrix or Google Pagespeed to know the number of HTTP requests.
2. Optimize images on the website
Not all images are created equal! Some image formats have lesser file sizes, some allow you to add animation effects, some offer transparent background, some are optimized for web uses, and some are ideal for printing.
It’s confusing at first but… here are some tips to optimize images on the website:
- Resize the images as per the maximum width of the webpage before uploading it
- Compress the images to reduce the file size. You can use free tools like TinyPNG and Kraken to compress the images
- Use the modern image formats like
.jpeg, they have lesser filesize
- Lazy loading images is another great way to reduce the initial load on the server
Following these tips will help you optimize the images and make the website load faster.
3. Optimize font loading
Fonts are one of the most important resources when building a website because they give a distinct look and feel, differentiate your brand from others, and set the tone of communication with users. However, their impact on the performance of a website is often underestimated.
When the website is first loaded, the browser looks for the font in its local cache, if it’s available it loads from there otherwise the browser downloads the font and then renders all the content.
Here are some tips to optimize the loading of fonts:
- use better and optimized font formats like WOFF and WOFF2
- preload the web font resources by using
- since fonts are typically static resources, you can set proper browser caching for them
font-displayfor better font rendering
- load only the font styles that you actually need
You can use the Lighthouse tool in the Google Chrome browser to further understand and optimize the font loading.
4. Minify code and use Gzip compression
Code minification is the process of removing extra characters, line breaks, comments, and unnecessary spaces from code files. You will be able to reduce the overall size of a webpage if you minify its CSS, JS, and HTML files.
Gzip compression is a server-level file compression method that further reduces the size of a webpage. It compresses the HTML, CSS, and JS files before they get sent to the browser.
Both code minification and gzip compression are very easy to implement on the website.
6. Use caching and lazy loading
Caching is necessary because if you don’t cache, your website will have to fetch data from the database each time a user visits a new page and that increases server load. There are two kinds of caching — browser caching and server caching.
- Browser caching is the process of storing the website’s static resources such as CSS, JS, images, etc. into the browser’s local memory. This avoids downloading static resources every time the user visits your site and that ultimately makes the website load fast.
- Server caching is the process of compressing and optimizing the website files at the server level itself. Varnish cache is one example of server-level caching.
Lazy loading is used to defer the loading of images that are currently not in the viewport (means, the images where the user has not yet scrolled to) and that improves the overall performance by reducing the initial load on the server. It’s highly recommended for websites that have lots of images.
5. Choose a better web hosting service
No matter how much you optimize your website, if the web hosting is not decent the performance will still not be good. Web hosting plays a crucial role in web performance.
If you want your website to perform at its best, you will need to find a web host that is fast, reliable, and secure all the time. Using shared hosting is certainly not recommended.
Some hosting services that we recommend are:
- Managed hosting
If you’re tight on the budget, here are some free platforms to host your web development projects.
Web Performance Optimization (WPO) ensures that visitors can quickly and efficiently access the information on the website.
If your site takes too long to load, then you risk losing potential customers. WPO is something that every web developer should know well about.
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