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Website speed optimisation

There are many factors that effect the loading speed of a website, and even if you have the fastest hosting possible if your site is not properly optimised, it may be for nothing as the visitors own internet and computer speed will become the limiting factor, so it is important to optimise your site so your visitors always get the best possible experience.

Below are a few simple things you can do to help improve your websites performance.


Optimise your images.

Images are typically the single largest files in a website and take the longest to load for a visitor, always optimise your images especially JPG images which if left unoptimised can be much larger than needed. A JPG image can be compressed significantly without perceavable loss of quality, usuly a level of about 80% is good and the resulting image can be as little as 10% of the original size even with smaller images. Here is an example.

Unoptimised JPG at 100% quality [62KB]

Optimised JPG at 80% quality [9KB]

That saved 53KB for one small image with no perceivable loss in quality and so imagine how much you could save by optimising all the jpgs in your site or a large 800x250 pixel banner image.

One other no no is to never use html to resize an image in the page, all it does is do a very bad job of changing the visible dimentions of the image but the file size is untouched and it even adds a small amount of extra processing time to the client browser. The html size (width and height values of the IMG tag) should always match the actual image dimensions.

Another thiing to avoid is showing thumbnails of images of much larger images, but rather using two images, a thubmbnail and a full size image the site simply resizes the fullsize image using HTML resulting in a large number of low quality / large size images that take a long time to download and view. Very apparent is ecommerce sites where it is common to have lists of items with thumbnails images.

Compress your code

Most servers will allow you to compress your html/css/js code for transmission on the fly and if you are using lots of large css or js files which is common with many CMS based websites or those that use jquery a lot, then code compression can be as important as image compression. You can easily enable code compression for common text files.

On Linux add the following to the bottom of your public_html/.htaccess file (Create one if you don't have one)

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript

On Windows add the following to the bottom of your wwwroot/web.htaccess file (Create one if you don't have one)

mod_gzip_on yes
mod_gzip_item_include Mime ^text/.*

Enable website caching

One of the other big things that slows down a website are dynamic pages. These are pages that have content loaded from a database, so if you are using a a CMS like Wordpress or Joomla which are notoriously high resource users it is vitally important that you enable some form of page caching technology.

Joomla comes with its own cache system, just enable it from the global settings. For wordpress a good caching module is SuperCache, if you are using some other CMS then check with the coder. In most cases caching simply creates static HTML versions of your dynamic pages to be served instead so the server does not have to always go to the database for the page content, these are updated when ever your content is changed.

Last word

Don't forget by optimising your websites you can decrease your page load times, making your site much faster and keeping your visitors really happy. You can also reduce your bandwidth usage considerably saving you money and so it is well worth spending a little time to get great results.

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