Page loading speeds can massively influence the success of a website. Much research has been done in the past few years with the same conclusion being reached on many occasions – visitors don’t like slow websites and are likely to go elsewhere if pages take a long time to load. Similarly the loading speed of websites is something that is starting to be taken into consideration by search engine algorithms and so neglecting to pay attention to your loading speeds could have a knock on effect on your search engine rankings. With mobile devices over cellular data networks also being a popular way of accessing websites these days, attention needs to be paid to minimising page sizes for such users as telecoms providers aren’t well known for providing generous bandwidth allowances. By carrying out some quick house keeping and paying attention to the code you are writing when developing your website, you can easily avoid falling foul of slow loading speeds and instead deliver a website that is kind to your visitors’ internet connections and web browsers, which in other words means it should load fast and be quick to render at the other end.
Reverse Proxy Web Server
If running Apache on your web server, introducing a reverse proxy server such as Nginx or Litespeed provides a reliable and free to use method of improving the performance of your website dramatically. Reverse proxy servers work with Apache by caching static versions of dynamic files, such as PHP web applications, and so represents a far more efficient way of serving dynamic websites that would otherwise be consuming far greater amounts of server resources each time a page is called by a visitor. Not only can a reverse proxy server help to deliver your website at a much faster rate, but with the load on your server also reduced you can expect your existing server to be able to handle more connections concurrently and this is probably going to reduce your need to upgrade the hosting server on such a frequent basis.
Efficient Server Side Coding
When developing a website, developers should look to create code that is as efficient as possible. In real terms this means that server side scripts should have only a minimal number of direct calls to the server, so this means optimising database queries so that you only call for the precise data that you require, an example of this would be selecting specific columns from a database rather than relying on the wildcard symbol (*). Where queries are being used more than once or the data returned by the queries is likely to remain static for a prolonged period of time, cacheing the result would be recommended practice because it will be more efficient to call this data from the server memory than it would be to run another database query.
Efficient HTML and CSS Coding
Whilst efficient coding on the server side can help to improve the rate at which the web and database servers process the requests that your website throws at them, efficient coding on the client side can reduce the amount of time in which it takes the visitor’s browser to process the HTML output. CSS-based layouts are not only more fluid and dynamic for designers to work with, but they’re also much easier for web browsers to process. Table layouts can take time to output, primarily because the web browser has to wait for the entire table to load before it is able to lay the content out properly. The web browser can also cache CSS layouts so that next time your visitor returns, your pages will load even faster for them. Table layouts are very hard to update quickly and more often than not the table is individual each page, meaning that static pages have to be updated individually if you would like a change in layout to be reflected across the entire site; on the other hand, a single CSS file can be used to control a CSS-based layout and so site-wide layout changes can be made by updating just a single file.
Arguably, images are the largest piece of content on a web page (of course where videos and/or audio aren’t being used). It isn’t always necessary to host images on your web server at their full quality for your website; most of the time you can get away with compressing the image without losing any noticeable quality. For images used on web pages, image compression can minimise the on-disk footprint of an image, in-turn making it quicker to download for the end-user and easier for the end-user’s browser to render. PNG (Portable Network Graphics) is a popular image format that is well suited for achieving effective image compression without impacting on quality; the compression achieved is lossless which means that the quality of the image will be identical to that of the source image. PNG is a standard that is supported by a majority of web browsers, operating systems and image editors.