Website Design

6 reasons why your website is slow and how to fix it


In 2021, site speed optimization is a must if you want to build a successful online business. The reason is that site speed affects search engine optimization (SEO), user experience, bounce rates, and most importantly, conversion rates.

However, a recent study suggests that the average time it takes to fully load a web page is 10.3 seconds on desktop and 27.3 seconds on mobile.

In other words, website owners are still struggling to optimize the pages of their sites. Here are some of the most common problems that can slow down a website and solutions that every site owner can benefit from.

Reason 1: Poor quality hosting services.

Website speed optimization starts long before you have an actual website. Finding a high-quality managed service provider (MSP) and choosing the right hosting service is as important as applying any of the techniques to come. In some cases, upgrading to a better hosting plan or migrating to another MSP could fix your site’s performance issues.

This is why relying on a cheap shared hosting service is not the best foundation on which to build your website. In addition, shared hosting has its drawbacks: You will be sharing server resources (CPU and memory) with other websites. And the worst part is that these resources will not be fairly distributed. Therefore, your website speed may be affected by a lack of resources.

  • Choose a high-quality managed service provider.
  • Opt for a scalable hosting solution guaranteeing availability, security and performance (Cloud, VPS, Dedicated Server, Colocation).
  • Make sure you can rely on 24/7 support.

Reason 2: Lack of caching layer.

Of all the site speed optimization techniques, caching is probably the most important. Caching is the process of storing a copy of your website files in a place called a web cache.

Without caching, the client’s browser must request your website assets (HTML, CSS, JS) each time from your origin server instead of accessing them from a local or intermediate cache. This lack of caching layers can lead to slower response times because servers have a limit on the number of requests they can process simultaneously. Once this limit is reached, each request is placed in a queue, which results in longer load times.

  • Manually configure caching rules: You can manage your website’s caching policy through HTTP headers. You can change them through your web server configuration.
  • Use a content delivery network (CDN).
  • Use caching plugins to automate the caching process.

Reason 3: You’re not using a Content Delivery Network (CDN).

Network latency is a common problem for websites that don’t use a CDN. This happens when the physical distance between the user and the origin server is too great. A CDN consists of a number of servers spread across different locations around the world. Their main task is to shorten the physical distance by serving content from the closest server to the user.

As a result, your website will load faster. Websites that attract visitors from all over the world benefit massively from using a CDN.

  • Contact your managed service provider as they may offer a CDN service.
  • Install a CDN plugin if you use a CMS like WordPress.
  • Contact a CDN provider like Cloudflare or Stackpath.

Reason 4: Images not optimized.

Image bytes make up about half of all bytes on an average page. Basically, without image optimization, half of your website is not optimized. By applying different optimization techniques, you can reduce the size of image files, allowing the browser to download and process them faster.

  • Image compression is the process of reducing the size of an image. Lossy compression significantly reduces file size, but it decreases image quality. Lossless compression reduces file size less but maintains the same quality.
  • Lazy loading images means loading only images that users are currently viewing. Therefore, if the user does not scroll to an image, it never loads.
  • Next-generation image formats (PEG 2000, JPEG XR, AVIF, and WebP) have better compression and quality characteristics. Using them allows you to reduce file size without compromising quality too much.

Reason 5: Your site’s code is too heavy.

The more code that needs to be executed on the server or browser, the longer your website takes to load. This, in turn, negatively affects the actual and perceived performance of your site.

  • Code minification means removing unnecessary parts like white spaces and comments from the code.
  • Code compression involves applying algorithms to rewrite the binary code of files, using fewer bits than the original.
  • Have a developer review and optimize the code you ship, especially JavaScript.

Reason 6: Render-blocking CSS and JavaScript.

Render-blocking resources, such as CSS and JS files, must be downloaded, parsed, and executed before the rendering process can continue. Managing these resources means applying different techniques that help the browser prioritize resources that are crucial for the user. This leads to faster loading times and better perceived performance.

  • Critical CSS is responsible for styling elements above the fold. You can embed this CSS instead of using a stylesheet (external CSS). This allows the browser to prioritize it and instantly load content above the fold.
  • Reduce unused CSS: Unused CSS rules are those that aren’t used to style the page a visitor is currently viewing. By reducing them, browsers can render your content faster.
  • Deferring JS means telling the browser to only run a script file after the HTML document has been fully parsed.

Bonus for WordPress users: installing too many plugins and using a bloated WordPress theme.

The WordPress library is full of great plugins. However, installing tons of them will negatively affect your website’s performance as it will increase the amount of code to run.

This point is also valid for other CMS sites. Using too many third-party plugins/extensions will slow down your site. Another common WordPress problem is using a bloated theme. Some themes contain a lot of unnecessary stuff (like stylesheets or JS files), which increases the loading time.

  • Get rid of unnecessary plugins.
  • Install lightweight and frequently updated plugins that provide multiple features.
  • Use a lightweight theme.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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