5 Tools to Improve Your Website’s Speed

    By Javed Ali | Small Business

    I cannot emphasise enough how important load times are for your business website. Fast-loading sites tend to have higher traffic, conversions, and search engine rankings. It’s simple – nobody wants to wait seconds for a page to load. How many times have you clicked away from a site when it is slow to load?

    That’s why web optimisation is crucial to your site’s speed and performance. A lot of times, it gets neglected, overlooked, or sacrificed for fancier web content. There are also times when webmasters just deliberately skip the optimisation part because it’s tedious and time consuming. What they don’t know is that a whole range of tools, apps, and plugins are at their disposal to speed up web optimisation. So, if you’re one of those webmasters who are in serious need to improve their website’s speed, you might want to start with these tools for a boost:

    1. Website Analysis Tools

    Understandably, if you want to fix your site’s problems, you need to find out what the problems actually are! These two things and a lot more can be accomplished by a free web scoring tool. Pingdom is one of the most popular tools in this category. It doesn’t just test your website’s speed but also examines every component and resource of your web pages, provides performance-related statistics, and gives tips and suggestions on how you can improve your website’s speed and performance. GTmetrix is another web performance scanner I recommend. Aside from providing the usual website performance graphs and statistics, GTmetrix can also analyse your site performance on mobile devices, and ranks issues in terms of how important they are to fix.

    2. CSS Sprite Generators

    This tool is essential to your web optimisation, especially if you really can’t let go of background images, thumbnails, and icons. Basically, CSS sprites combine several or all images on a web page into a single file, significantly reducing HTTP requests, round-trip times, and hence, the time it takes for a customer to load your site. While manually creating sprites can be a pain, a lot of CSS sprite generators can generate a sprite with just one click. SpriteMe, and Compass are two CSS sprite generators that’d I’d recommend – they will definitely improve your website’s speed.

    3. CSS and Javascript Compressors

    Minifying your code and scripts is one of the top web optimisation best practices that I can suggest. Compressing your code will reduce the time needed for the download, parsing, and execution of your website. A lot of web masters I’ve spoken to have built their site without minified code, and are horrified by the amount of time it would take to remove blank lines, comments and spaces. However, there are several CSS and Javascript compressors out there that will help you minify your code with, you guessed it, just a single click. CleanCSS is a CSS compressor that I’ve used and can vouch for, while JSCompress can help with Javascript. If you’re into server-side tools, Minify (yes that’s the name of the tool) is a PHP5 app that combines multiple CSS or Javascript files and compress them by removing spaces and unnecessary comments. It then serves the compressed files with gzip encoding and optimal client-side cache headers. Pretty neat, huh?

    4. Content Delivery Networks

    Content Delivery Networks are the worldwide servers that will have a noticeable improvement on your website’s speed and performance. Instead of hosting your site and all your files from a single server, you can now host assets in multiple servers around the globe. It allows for a faster and more efficient delivery of your web files – from scripts and texts to media files and applications. It then lets the web browsers and the users download these files more quickly. CDNs are particularly important for businesses that operate a global web presence. CacheFly and MaxCDN have a lot of great reviews and are regarded as topnotch CDNs, so definitely check them out. If you want a CDN with an integrated security tool, I’ve used Cloudflare and Inscapsula with reasonable results. Aside from accelerating your website’s speed and boosting its performance, these two also block threats (such as DDoS attacks), limit abusive bots and crawlers, and fight spam.

    5. Caching Plugins

    Caching your website is a tried and tested way to boost your website’s speed and performance. If you have a WordPress site, caching is made a lot easier with a range of caching plugins that you can readily install on your site. W3 Total Cache is the most well regarded plugin to use for a faster and easier web performance optimisation. It can pretty much combines all of the tips I’ve listed above into a single download – minification of CSS and Javascript, CDN integration, and caching of static resources. All in all, this caching plugin increases server performance, reduces download time, and ultimately improves your users’ experience.
    With these tools in your arsenal, you can greatly improve your website’s speed and performance without even getting your hands dirty. Having said that, I do recommend you regularly check your site through one of the scanners I suggested above, and make sure you take a backup of your server files before performing processes such as minification.

    Your website’s speed is a huge part of your users’ experience, so if you want to increase conversions, hits and readership, start utilising these 5 tools for a more efficient and effective business website.

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