The Hostway Blog

Ten Ways to Make Your Web Site Load Faster

Online shoppers will wait a maximum of four seconds for your page to load before clicking away, according to a 2006 JupiterResearch study. Shaving seconds off your page loading times can increase your sales and your bottom line. Here are some tips for cutting your Web page load times.

1. Break up long pages into several shorter pages.

Image files are large and take a long time to load. While ecommerce Web sites are full of product images, one simple way to cut down the time it takes for the page to load is to break each product category into several different pages and allow the visitor to click through them, downloading more images with each click.

2. Cut any unnecessary elements from the page.

Take a good, hard look at your Web pages. How does each element help you meet your goals? If you find anything that is not directly involved in the sales process, eliminate it. Smaller pages load faster.

3. Remove excess white space from your coding.

What could be easier than running through your code and deleting all of the extra spaces? This simple task can cut bytes of data from your page, and every little bit counts.

4. Clean up unnecessary code.

Removing useless code is a great way to cut down on the size of your page without sacrificing content. It's especially important if you use a WYSIWYG HTML editor like Dreamweaver. These editors tend to insert unnecessary tags that can slow browsers down.

5. Use cascading style sheets (CSS) instead of tables to design your pages.

Pages built using external CSS load faster than pages designed with tables. CSS pages begin to display content as soon as it's loaded, so viewers can see the top portion of the page before the bottom has loaded while tables are displayed all at once. Browsers also can read CSS faster, and because it applies to all pages, it doesn't need to be read when new pages are clicked on.

6. Reduce the size of your images files.

One easy way to cut the size of your images is to crop them. Trimming off unnecessary parts of the picture can lower the file size without lowering its quality. Another great way to reduce the file size is to convert to a lower resolution. Reduce high resolution pictures to 72 dpi, the standard resolution for images on the Web.

7. Use Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) on your pages.

AJAX makes Web pages appear to load faster. Because it exchanges small amounts of data with the server behind the scenes asynchronously, the viewer is never looking at a blank screen waiting for a page to load.

8. Combine repetitive scripts into a single, external script.

When you use the same script on more than one page, the browser has to reload the script each time it appears. Make it a single external script, and it can be cached in the browser, so it only needs to be loaded once.

9. Define image height and width with tags.

Height and width tags tell the browser exactly how large the image will be, so it can load other elements of the page while the image loads. If you do not define the image size, the browser must wait for the image to load before it can load the text.

10. Use a content delivery network (CDN).

A CDN uses a network of servers to cache data and identify the fastest delivery route to the end user. A CDN can make image-heavy and multimedia pages load very quickly. But a CDN may be too expensive for some small companies.