Page Speed – Let’s Improve It


I’m sure you’re reading this because you know web page speed and download times are important to your SEO performance and usability, and want to do something about it. The post “a faster page is better” should have been enough to convince you of that.

In this article we look at what are achievable every day considerations that a website administrator can do.

Let’s start with our first rule – The larger a webpage is in size – as measured in bytes – the longer it will take to download.

Therefore our objective is simple – we need to reduce web page size. So let’s look at how we can do this by taking steps to improve your page speed:

Compress Images

Imagery is vital to a website from representing your brand effectively, conveying messages to presenting a pleasing and appealing UI. However they can also contribute greatly to the size of your webpage so care should be taken to shrink (optimise) the file size as much as possible. The trade-off being – the greater the compression the poorer the image quality.

There are plenty of online tools available that will check a webpage, recommending the images requiring optimisation. A couple I like to use are WebPageTest and Google’s Page Speed Insights.

Now you have your list of images, we can again look online. A simple search will return any number of tools that can compress and manipulate seemingly any image in any way. My favourites are –;;

Reduce Content

We know 83% of people expect a webpage to load within 3 seconds and 40% will abandon the site if it takes longer than this gives us a great target to aim for. If we can meet or exceed this 3 second mark then all the better, but if we can’t then it’s time to think outside the square.

In reality the words and text within a webpage represent a very small percentage of its total size, however it’s common to support these with imagery, photos, charts, video and the like which as we know suddenly make the page a lot larger.

What are your options? – Remove content! We definitely don’t want to do that as this has all sorts of negative impacts and Google loves unique copy. The other approach is to spread the content across multiple pages – break up your blog posts, online reports or large pages and link from one to the other. You need to consider what if any impact this may have on usability i.e. more people visiting the page because it downloads faster versus less people clicking through to the secondary pages.

OK – we’ve now got our web page as reduced in size without impacting usability – what’s next.
Time for another rule – Optimised rendering, displays the webpage faster than one without.

Specify Dimensions

With this concept we’re implying that if height and width for objects (notably images) within a page are specified then the browser can draw these dimensions and move on to render the next part of the page irrespective of whether the resource (image) has download.

Like the other factors this also has a compromise. If you have a responsive website then typically imagery will expand and contract based on the device viewing the page because it’s based on percentages thus specifying a certain width and height may cause rendering issues across the different devices.

Use Progressive JPEGs

Progressive jpeg use a suite of compression algorithms allowing the image to render in successive waves as it is being downloaded i.e. it is visible even before it has completely downloaded. The upshot of which is that the page has the appearance of rendering faster.

We’ve covered some practical ways to optimise and improve speed but by no means have we exhausted the topic. If you‘ve got a technical bent or want further improvement then have a read of “winning the war on page speed”.

Remember – a faster page is better for both usability and search engine rankings! Talk to us about improving your web page speed today.

Andy Brown