9 Ways to make your site super speedy

The speed that your website takes to load is often an afterthought that you address post-build, but it's one of the most important factors in boosting your position in Google's rankings. Google's own resources state that 'higher performance websites lead to higher visitor engagement, retention and conversions' (Google https://developers.google.com/speed/), meaning that if your site is a bit of a slowcoach, your potential customers may be tempted to shop elsewhere or worse, may not even come across your site in their search results.

There are plenty of things you can do to optimise your site for high performance, and it's something we at BLISS take very seriously indeed - our own site loads (on average) in a super swift 626 milliseconds! Our technical director Conor recently treated us to a talk all about taking your website from a sluggish jogger to the Usain Bolt of the Internet and it makes for an interesting topic, even to those not so clued up on the technical side of things.

So, just because we're nice like that, here's a breakdown of the 10 things you need to do make sure your site's always in prime position.

1. Know your stack.

We're not on about chimneys here (architecture isn't really our strong point). You need to familiarize yourself with the order of priority in which the browser digs out all the bits that make your site and displays them on screen. Simplified, it looks something like this: 

Knowing the inner workings of how a site loads can help you identify at which point the problem's occurring.

2. Be careful with your cache.

In order to load regularly-accessed information quickly, the browser stores the data as a cache. This is like popping it away in a cupboard to be accessed again later. Each stage of the stack has its own cache, as you can see in the diagram above.

3. Shrink your files.

This one's true for pretty much anything you can do on a computer, and the Internet is no exception when it comes to smaller files being faster files.  The smaller the file, the faster it downloads and the more you can fit into your cache, meaning that all the elements of your site that need accessing quickly can be squashed together in a big, handy bunch of tiny files. 

4. Minify your code.

This one's exactly what it says on the tin. Take a big bit of code and make it mini. In simple terms, this involves removing any superfluous text that doesn't actually do anything to make your code more compact. This way, the browser won't have to download lines of redundant code to find the info it needs to load your page.

5. Optimise your images.

We've all been there - clicking to enlarge an image or visiting a page to look at the beautiful pics, only to find the damn things take longer to load that your kettle takes to boil. Annoying, right? Big images seriously slow down loading time so optimising them is a must. Image optimisation software removes data that the human eye can't detect, so the quality won't be compromised but you'll rid yourself of thousands of pesky pixels.

6. Upgrade your server (or get someone to do it for you).

This one comes with a cost, but it's sometimes worth it. Upgrading your server to a higher-performing system can be pricey but it’s usually a safe bet to improve performance. It also doesn't require much technical know-how. With todays cloud hosting platforms, a faster site could be a click and credit card payment away.

7. Use Chrome Developer.

This handy tool, which is a free widget in Google Chrome, presents your network activity as a waterfall so you can identify where things might be getting clogged up. An easy, visual representation of exactly what's going on below the surface of your website.

8. Pagespeed

Pagespeed Insights shows you exactly where you could make improvements to your site, so it eliminates the need to trawl through lines of code or agonise over which image is slowing things down. Save yourself time by letting Pagespeed find out what needs improving so you can get straight to work on the problem areas.

9. Pingdom

Track your site's current and historic page load speeds with this handy tool. Pingdom will give you a breakdown of how long your pages take to load, compared with how they've performed in the past so you can instantly see the difference your modifications have (or haven't) made.