Speed up your website

Speed up your website -- Made In Helmikuu

Speed is amongst the most important issues of a website. The performance of a site is especially important when using web with mobile devices outside full speed Wi-Fi connections is getting more common. Faster websites are much more user friendly and speeding up your site is one of the easy ways to improve its search engine visibility. Begin your process by testing your site with Google's PageSpeed Insights. It will give you two scores, one for mobile and one for desktop, between 0 and 100. If it happens that your score is above 85 it means your site is performing very well and anything above 70 is pretty okay too. Unless your website is already optimised you will probably get a bad score and your site is slow. There are also other page speed testing tools, though Google's is the simplest I've found. Note that you aren't likely to get perfect score in any way, but there are certain things you can do to make your site perform better.

Especially many WordPress themes are quite massive and quite frankly not very well made in general. Many widely used premium themes have loads of issues and are hard to optimise. This makes them slow and impossible to speed up. I've noticed that often themes which are built as child theme of such premium theme or a framework are problematic with optimisation. They are bulky and have too many layers of HTML, CSS and JavaScript It can be difficult to asses which themes are fast and which are slow, so you will need to do some research. If you use free themes you can always test which works the best. One of your options is to find a designer and developer with interest in fast websites who will create you a new and better theme.

Caching and minifying optimises and packs the HTML, CSS and JavaScript of your theme for better performance. There are usually multiple different caching and minifying plugins and modules made for content management systems and blogging platforms. They all work differently and some of them will work better with your settings, theme and the other plugins or modules you have enabled than the others. You may have to test them thoroughly in order to find the best plugin or module and the best settings. For WordPress there are such plugins as W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache. For Drupal I recommend Advanced CSS/JS Aggregation (or AdvAgg) module. You can also tinker with .htaccess caching and server settings if you know what you are doing. Again you can find help with it, but if you are a DIY person your only option is to learn this stuff.

Even if you don't have access to these settings or don't know how to work them you can still do a couple of things to improve your website's performance. For one you can always optimise the images. Also for this there are several plugins and modules, which optimise images when you upload them to your site. Preferably optimise images before uploading them. For example Photoshop has a Save for Web & Devices option which lets you to optimise images to a point. Please note that aggressive packing can reduce the quality of an image, so be careful with it. Additionally you can create smaller file sizes with various tools. Online tools include such as Smush.it by Yahoo! which is a simple way to make your images faster. In case you are a Mac user like myself there's a free, simple and effective tool called ImageOptim for optimising images.

You can also improve performance of your site by removing carousels and other unnecessary elements from it. All the extra images and JavaScript slows your website down. All the social media buttons and widgets also create extra weight, so remove those for which you don't have any use. Cleaning up the extra helps a lot. As an example I'm thinking about removing the social media buttons from my blog posts, because it seems to me they are rarely used and people share my content in other ways. Stripping your site down to the essentials is likely to improve its performance.

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