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Three Website Performance Tools

First impressions are everything, and nothing turns a user away faster than a website that takes a long time to load. With today’s internet speed, users expect quick load times. The website industry states that a website should load between two and five seconds. With more and more users accessing the web through their mobile device, anything beyond two seconds is a detriment. It is known in the business world that a slow website causes decreased user participation and disengagement. In 2006, Amazon reported that for every 100 milliseconds they speed up their website, they see a 1% increase in revenue. Consider SEO when you think of your site’s performance.

The search engines consider the page load speed as an essential parameter for user engagement; hence it is also factored into the web page ranking.

There are practical options available to boost your website’s performance. As a website developer, let me share a few quick tips with you.

1. Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network)

A CDN is a large network of servers hosting identical content in locations all around the world. When a website requests an image, the CDN finds the closest server to transmit the information. You should use a CDN to improve the site visitor’s experience by delivering the content faster, reducing the traffic load on your web server. The idea behind using a CDN is that you can render multiple images, documents and video with a single request as opposed to having multiple requests to your web server for the same information. The fewer request made to the server, the faster your website will become. Sitefinity can easily integrate with your CDN.

2. Use Caching

Caching is a mechanism in which information is saved in a temporary location for future use. Caching allows you to efficiently reuse previously retrieved or computed data. The ability to cache and reuse previously fetched resources is a critical aspect of optimizing for performance. Browser’s cache could store most, if not all, content from a single webpage.

There are two caching mechanisms. One is your browser’s cache and the other is the web server cache.

The web server stores application data. When you need a list of all news items, for example, the server will check to see if a cached version of the SQL query is available and serves that information as opposed to recompiling the list from scratch. Application level caches take care of storing data that takes a longer time to process (e.g. DB queries, configuration files, etc.) and serving it from the web server memory.  The browser cache can only store static content like images, text, JavaScript and CSS files.

If the browser has a cached version of static files within a webpage, the browser will simply deliver the static content from the browser’s memory. The browser will not have to send a request to the webserver for the information. As mentioned above, the fewer requests to the server, the lower the site speed.  The web browser just needs to know if it can save and store the information received from the server.

The website owner needs to simply set the HTTP header directives to instruct the browser when and for how long it can cache the response. Sitefinity allows website administrators to set browser caching directives. The web hosting company sets the server caching parameters.

3. Image Optimization

Image Optimization is reducing the image file size as much as possible without ruining the graphic integrity. If you are not using a CDN, consider the impact that a single image on a webpage can ruin the site speed. Typically, our rule of thumb is to try to keep each image around 500 KB. Be sure that your images are no larger than they need to be, that they are in the right file format (PNGs are generally better for graphics with fewer than 16 colors while JPEGs are generally better for photographs), and that they are compressed for the web. PNG is a lossless format that can be highly compressed. Sitefinity has a built-in image crop tool to help you reduce the site of your images.  

These are just a few tricks to help your site reach the optimized load time. There are many other options that are available. If your website is experiencing slow load time, we can help! Reach out to your Vanguard client service manager to discuss the options available to you.

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Author:

Ken Anderson

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