How To Build a Better Performing Website

Your website’s success depends on several factors. One often overlooked factor is the performance of your website. Performance can be ignored for a number of reasons:

  1. You don’t notice your website’s slow performance.
  2. You’re overwhelmed by “backend” work.
  3. You don’t make the performance of your web site a priority.

Most web administrators don’t like dealing with backend issues, writing HTML or CSS, for example, or configuring plugins or other technical functions. Web administrators prefer to focus on areas where they are more comfortable, such as creating content. Also, many backend changes aren’t visible to the user, so it’s easy to underestimate their value.

Neglecting web performance is a mistake. Minor changes in coding can have a tremendous impact on the user experience and the overall success of your website. Here’s a list of simple things to do that will have a large impact on your website performance over time.

Frontload the work as much as possible

The best time to optimize your website’s performance was before you launched it. The second best time is now.

Taking steps to ensure powerful web performance might seem like a lot of work, and it can be, but you don’t have to do it often. Most of the work will only need to be done once. Your goal should be to work hard now, preparing your site for top performance, and then make small adjustments over time to optimize it.

Ideally, you want a clear plan of what you seek to accomplish in terms of design, content, and user experience. Once you have a clear vision, you want to work toward optimal performance from the ground up. That doesn’t mean you can’t improve performance on an existing site. However, the more you can do earlier on, the better.

Build a symmetrical foundation

With the growing use of smart phones and tablets, your website needs to be responsive. This kind of website will automatically adjust to the screen on which it’s being viewed. Responsive websites require well-written code.

Your website’s layout should be built using one codebase of HTML and CSS. Whether you’re building the layout yourself, hiring someone to do it for you, or buying a premium theme, be sure to look for this feature.

You want code that’s flexible and easy to update. A symmetrical codebase will save you money and time in the long run, because updating and adjusting your website will be much easier with a good foundation of code.

Produce consistent load times

You might not think page load times matter, but your users do. The average web user has zero patience and has no problem leaving your slow website for one that loads quickly.

In addition, a website that loads quickly is given preferential treatment by search engines. Google know that people like websites that load quickly and load times are one of the factors that affect page rank.

The most common way to improve load times is to reduce the file size of everything you can on your site, especially photos. Obviously you don’t want to have photos so small that they’re blurry, but we find that most web administrators upload photos that are 2-3 times the size they need to be. Another way to improve load times is to offload HTTP requests to a faster web server.

Whatever you do, remember that decisions to boost web performance should always enhance the user experience, not harm it.