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Why is My Site Slow?

Anyone remember dial up? When you had to wait for it…wait for it…wait for it…before you had a connection? (We tend to block out painful experiences, so if you don’t recall this, we get it.)

Our devices now function so fast, we’ve lost what patience we had. That means the longer your site takes to load, the more people give up and leave.

If your site takes longer than three seconds to load (about the time it takes to take a sip of coffee!), 53% of mobile users will leave your site (Google Research, 2018). With the continued increase in mobile users, this could be a large portion of your potential customers that you’re scaring off.

We understand that can feel horrifying, but we have a few tips to make your website load faster and hopefully increase sales.

Computer with Error Message Why Is My Site Slow?

A few questions to ask yourself before we dive deeper:

Can you answer yes to the following questions?

  • Are you running a good internet connection? Your website may just be slow because your internet is!
  • Is your website hosted with a reliable hosting company?
  • If you’re using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal, are you running the latest version?

If your answer is no to any of these, it may be time to consider a different hosting option for your website. Hosting is something USDP offers, and we’re happy to give you a free assessment and some recommendations.

Let’s dig a little deeper.

Why Is My Site Slow? Keep File Sizes Small Graphic Computer

Keep your file sizes small  

One of the main culprits of slow load time? Images and videos. The larger the file size, the longer it takes to load. A good rule of thumb is to keep images under 1MB in file size and under 2000px in width and height. You can save images at smaller sizes or use optimization tools, such as ImageOptim for Mac, or TinyPNG online.

Video is a bit trickier. Automatically playing videos, such as a video loop, require a high speed website host to perform well. (Another possible reason to consider other hosting options.) A quick fix? Look for the “Optimize Video” setting in your video editor or try out some of the editor’s other options when exporting.

Why Is My Site Slow? Trim Excess Code. Graphic Computer

Trim excess code

Similar to large image files, large code files can also slow down your site. On WordPress, the easiest way to reduce your load time is to eliminate plugins you don’t need. Plugins have their own baggage that always loads on your site, regardless of the plugin’s purpose.  

If you’re not a developer, you likely don’t have much control over your website’s code or how it’s loaded. If you’re running a custom site or are thinking about doing so, talk to a developer about some simple code updates that can improve speed, such as loading javascript in the footer and minimizing CSS/JS files.

Many site speed tests will likely mention “render blocking assets” as well. This means that some code must load completely before the page can be displayed. While this makes sense for the styling of your website, other things, such as javascript for a form in the footer, doesn’t need to be loaded right away. Adding async or defer attributes to these code pieces can help increase your site speed. (If you want more info on how to fix render blocking code, check out this article.)

Why Is My Site Slow? Check the number of requests. Graphic Computer

Check the Number of Requests

In addition to large file sizes, the number of files affects load speed, too. Each image, stylesheet, icon, video, and Pinterest share button requires a different request so it can be retrieved from the server before the page displays. Your server (and the user’s computer) can only handle so many requests at a time. So if your webpage has lots of images and information, cutting back may improve loading speed.

Another option is to look into caching. Caching is when your server makes a copy of some of your site’s data so that it doesn’t have to “think”–it can simply send back the copy. Many hosting platforms implement caching in some way, so talk to your provider. Or if you’re using WordPress, you could check out different plugin options such as WP Super Cache.

If your site is getting a lot of traffic, first of all, congratulations. Second, consider it like a restaurant during the lunch rush. The more people, the longer they have to wait to get their food. Your server (human and machine) can only take so much. A big volume of users can slow down your site. But speed will improve once the traffic dissipates.

A disclaimer: Depending on the configuration of your server, the number of requests may not be an issue. Servers with HTTP/2 use what’s referred to as “code splitting” that can actually use multiple requests to your advantage. This gets pretty technical, so if you’re into that, you can read more about HTTP/2 here.

Figure out which factors are slowing down your website

As we’ve talked about, many factors can slow your site. To figure out which thing(s) are to blame, you can:

  • Try running your site through a speed test. There are plenty of options out there; Google has one that you can use to test any site, just paste in your URL.
    But, take page speed tests with a grain of salt, as they tend to make things look a bit scarier than they are. They often take things into account that aren’t a big deal, or that you may not have any control over. For example, run Apple.com through that Google Page Speed checker. Spoiler Alert: it doesn’t do too well.
  • Consider paid services as well, like SiteImprove, which can give you some insight into your site’s issues.

If you’re still not satisfied with your site, give us a call. Our digital experts would be happy to give you free advice and help make sure your site performs the way you’d like it to.

Megan Logsdon Image Alt

By: Megan Logsdon

Megan is an Interactive Developer at USDP.
She likes to play tennis and loves Marvel superheroes.