Owning and managing a website can come with a lot of stress these days. The way websites have grown so complex has created a myriad of new potential issues that can cause them to fail entirely. The way they are built, if they use a content management system (CMS) or not, the choice in theme for said CMS, can affect the stability and speed of your site.
Slow load times for web pages are one of the greatest causes of conversion loss for a growing business. The stress and financial impact of having a slow site can really wear down any business owner, so we put together a few things to keep in mind when trying to optimize your website for speed.
The first and most common culprit (especially for low bandwidth users), media file sizes. This can be larger, longer videos or even just simple images. Many people tend to have a misconception that bigger is better but anything bigger than the space occupied is just using storage and computational power for no real benefit. Most users will not have a high enough resolution monitor for larger images to be enjoyed by anyone. If you have an image that you are very proud of, you can simply link off to a separate, larger version of the same image. There is no need to overwhelm your actual page with so much needless data. This only slows your page and loses users. Try to clean up excess data usage wherever possible.
On the topic of needless bloat on your website: plugins. A lot of plugins have a single use function but people will leave them installed and running. This can really slow down your website and potentially be a security vulnerability. Think about if you really need each plugin/add-on one at a time and remove any that you do not need. Honestly, some plugins perform actions so simple that installing the plugin ends up being more work than doing it manually. This does not even just apply to code, some plugins just change settings that you could find in the menus without having to give a random plugin access to your site. Plugins may also leave behind code that is unneeded. You can remove this code fairly easily since most of the time they will create a whole new section or folder for their code files.
Even when you are not dealing with code left behind by a plugin, there can be issues with the code slowing down your website. It is not uncommon for websites to build sections out and then merely hide the section rather than fully archiving it. If you have parts to your site that you do not see yourself needing again do not fear archiving the code. You can either save files locally or back them up to the cloud. If you are sure that you have moved on from a particular piece of your site you can just delete it entirely as well.
JS to CSS
If you are still having speed issues after all of the previous points have been looked into, make sure that you are not over using iframes. An iframe needs to load an entirely separate HTML file to pull one part and display it on your page. This essentially means that you have to load an additional page for each iframe that you use. You can remove any unneeded iframes and see if this helps the speed of your site.
Beyond your code, you have to consider your hardware. Unless you host your own site this means the web hosting service that you use. Services with high levels of vertical integration (such as Shopify) take care of all of this. If you are using WordPress or any other basic installed CMS you will need to worry about your hardware. If you run on a poor quality server that is shared with several other websites there may not be enough bandwidth or memory to go around. If this is the case you should consider switching to another web hosting plan or service provider. You can export your site fairly easily as long as you have access to the backend with your web host.
If you have an overwhelmingly slow website but you know that your CMS is well optimized and your server hardware is more than sufficient for your needs, you very well may have malware. If you have malware that is beyond the abilities of a simple plugin, you may need to contact your host about your options. Unlike with malware on your computer, malware on your website can happen with no needed actions from you to cause the infection. You can take preventative measures but there is nothing that is entirely guaranteed to never let any malware through.
In this time you can never be too careful with your website, especially with the growing reliance on the internet. Be sure to always do or have your developer do regular checks and maintenance for your website to keep it up and running safely and quickly. You can use tools to check on your page speed and get insights into causes. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about your website.