Anyone can tell you, people do not like to wait for things. In fact, most absolutely loathe it. So it comes as no surprise to hear that 40% of people will leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load¹.
Obviously, there’s only so much you can do when it comes to website speed for individual users. It may load up instantly on your desktop, but an old laptop running Internet Explorer 9 might take a little longer. All we can do as designers is program for speed and maintain accordingly. If your site is running a little slow, here are five tips for both managing and improving your website speed.
First things first, is this even an issue for you? There are free websites where you can test how fast your site loads from anywhere in the world. One of our favorites is Pingdom. It will run the url and report back with a nice grade sheet with loading info and stats. Depending on your grade and load time, you might want to make some changes to speed things up. If so, then…
If your website has plugins that are outdated it could be causing some lag. Web bowsers are frequently updating, and new browsers might take longer to load older versions of a website’s plugins. Your site needs to be compatible with new technologies as well as old. If you notice your load time increasing, check if there are any updates available and once the newer versions are up and running, the site will run more smoothly.
When writing lines of code, they include spaces and tabs that make it easier on developers when writing complex code. However, each of these spaces is a character that the browser has to read when loading a webpage. By cutting them out we can condense hundreds of lines of code into less than a dozen. With just one page this makes a negligible difference of a few milliseconds, but for a website with many different pages you could cut a second or two off its load time.
Image files can be very large, but often will be displayed at smaller dimensions. Regardless of what size the image will be displayed, the browser loads the full image size which can add unnecessary load time. If an image displays as a thumbnail at 150 x 150 but is saved out at its full size of 1000 x 1000, it will take more time to load for no added quality. It will still look the same at 150 x 150. The solution here is to save out images at the size they will be displayed to cut out unnecessary load time.