Being aware of how quickly your website’s pages are loading is crucial. Slow loading times upset existing users, increase bounce rates, affect search engine rankings, and have a serious impact on revenue. So tracking your site’s loading times, and understanding problems that affect the speed of your website, can be the difference between a failing website and a successful online business.
In this article, we discuss five issues that may be slowing down your page load time. These include:
• Issues with CMS plugins
• Large page sizes
• Poorly optimized scripts
• Inadequate bandwidth
• Insufficient server resources
We’ll also discuss SolarWinds® Pingdom®, a SaaS-based tool that can help you track and decipher page loading times and other performance-related issues that may be affecting your website.
By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear understanding of the problems that may be causing your site to load slowly, and more importantly, how to deal with them.
Issues With CMS Plugins
If you’re using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal, then you can benefit from installing plugins to add extra functionality to your website. Plugins are extremely useful for ensuring your website has all the features necessary for your niche and audience. However, if not well managed, they can be detrimental to webpage speed.
Unfortunately, not all plugins are created to an appropriate standard, and many contain poorly written code that will ultimately affect page load times. Some plugins, particularly those you may have installed for free, are not kept up to date, which can also cause security issues.
Here are a few ways to reduce page load time when it comes to plugins, as recommended in the WordPress Codex:
- Only download plugins from reputable sources
- Keep your plugins updated
- Delete any plugins you aren’t using
It’s also important to keep the number of plugins you install to a minimum. Multiple plugins will increase calls to the back-end database, which can create bottleneck situations as multiple scripts are launched simultaneously.
Large Page Size
The bigger the file size of your webpages, the more time they will take to load. And with many pages containing numerous large images, videos, and other interactive elements, page size can quickly become a real problem.
All elements of a page make up the page weight, including the HTML document, style sheets, scripts, media, and more. It’s important that every page element is optimized for size. Here are some tips for reducing page weight:
- Compress all images – According to Google, images are still the number one cause of bloat on the internet. By compressing your images, you can reduce file size while still retaining image quality.
- Remove unnecessary custom fonts – Custom fonts may look good, but they can dramatically add to the bulk of a page. Try and keep the number of custom fonts you’re using to a minimum.
- Use gzip to compress files during transfer – Gzip is a compression technology that will compress and decompress almost any file type, speeding up the transfer of files between server and browser.
Poorly Optimized Scripts
Poorly performing scripts within your website can be another reason for poor page load times. Badly written code, or simply code that hasn’t been properly optimized for speed, can have a large impact on your site’s performance.
One of the key ways to reduce page load time in this situation is to consider lazy load techniques. By implementing lazy loading, you can delay loading images, videos, comments sections, and other content. This means scripts are only loaded when necessary, rather than automatically loading on mass as a visitor opens a webpage. Lazy loading also reduces page weight and reduces the amount of bandwidth used (discussed next).
Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transferred between a server and browser in a fixed amount of time. When a new webpage is opened by a user, all images, text, and code have to be loaded, which uses bandwidth. So as more users are accessing your site, more bandwidth is needed.
If your site is receiving high levels of traffic, you’ll need to ensure you have enough bandwidth to cater for this demand. Otherwise, not only will your loading times start to suffer, but your website may also end up crashing.
When you purchase hosting for your website, you’ll need to select a plan with a sufficient amount of bandwidth. You can log into your hosting account at any time and check how much bandwidth you’re using. If your hosting plan does not offer enough bandwidth to ensure your site consistently loads quickly, it may be worth upgrading to a hosting package with more capacity.
Another way to solve bandwidth-related site speed issues is to sign up with a content delivery network (CDN) service. Doing so will automatically distribute copies of your website’s files, such as images and scripts, to data centers around the world. Then whenever a visitor accesses your site, those files will be served from the CDN data center closest to them. Your website’s files will have less distance to travel and should, therefore, load faster. Using a CDN can also reduce how much bandwidth you’re consuming from your web hosting plan.
Insufficient Server Resources
Server resources refer to the resources your server makes available to your website, including CPU, RAM, and hard disk I/O. The amount of server resources you’re entitled to will be quite dependent on the hosting plan you’ve purchased.
If you’re hosting your website on a shared hosting plan, you may find problems with your web page load speed due to a lack of server resources. Because websites hosted on the same server share the resources available, if one of the sites is exceeding its designated resource allowance, due to high traffic levels or other issues, your site will lose out. This could result in less processing power, a slowing of database queries, poor script execution, and more.
To ensure your server resources are not only adequate, but also protected, you should consider upgrading to a dedicated hosting package. However, if dedicated hosting is out of your price range, VPS hosting is also a good option, offering contained resources within a shared server environment.
Using Pingdom to Monitor Site Performance
SolarWinds® Pingdom® can provide great insight into the performance of your site and the issues slowing down your webpage speed. Web speed analysis and performance data include:
- Page speed – Pingdom checks uptime and page speed every 30 minutes from servers around the globe. You can then track page speed to give you a good understanding of how your site and individual pages are performing.
- Website load and response times – Go beyond just page speed with in-depth metrics that report server response times, time to start render, time to interact, and much more.
By accessing data on your site’s performance, you’ll have a much better understanding of what factors are affecting your site speed. You can then begin to implement ways to reduce page load time and help ensure a positive experience for your users.
Are you ready to improve your website’s loading times? Sign up for the Pingdom 14-day free trial to get started.