The speed at which a web page loads is a delivery of service. A slow website not only frustrates users (an increasing number of whom will abandon your site as the seconds tick by) but also lowers your ranking in search results (Google includes page load speed as part of its algorithm) and potentially increases your costs.
As a broad and general rule, assume that every visitor to your site has ADD. Every page must have a load time under eight seconds. That time should really be less than five seconds, and ideally under two.
Optimizing a site for speed is a nine-step process, the first eight of which are applicable to almost every web page:
- Set a performance baseline by testing the load time of existing pages, whether those pages are offline or hosted.
- Redesign and recode your pages for speed.
- Minimize the file size of images through compression techniques.
- Reduce the number of HTTP requests.
- Ensure that all appropriate files are gzipped.
- Use intelligent compression and caching.
- Optimize MySQL queries.
Each of these steps will be explained in a separate upcoming article in this series.