While there are a number of reasons your site may be performing slowly, the majority of explanations can be traced back to poor website optimization, website design, caching, and network optimization. In this article, we will explore each of these reasons and provide examples and basic instructions for overcoming site slowness.
- Unoptimized Code
- Lack of Image/Video Optimization
- Load Spikes
- Data Compression Not Being Used
- Inefficient Website Design
- Excess Plugins
- Ineffective Caching
- Poor Network Optimization
- Content Delivery Networks
- Connectivity Issues
- Excessive HTTP Requests
1. Unoptimized Code
Render Blocking Scripts
To reduce the number of files the site needs to find in order to load, combine multiple CSS files into a single master file, or at least a smaller number of files.
To help the site avoid needing to refer to an external file for CSS, use CSS code directly inline with the HTML site code.
MySQL and other database systems can suffer from something called “overhead”, which is a term used to describe the bloat of log data and other entries that accumulate over time. When too much overhead is present, the database can perform more slowly and even time out entirely. This means a slower, less reliable website.
Fortunately, of all three of the optimizations discussed so far, optimizing databases is perhaps the easiest. Many modern web servers use phpMyAdmin, a tool that allows for database modification directly in a web browser. Optimizing a database with phpMyAdmin is as easy as logging in and using the Optimize function on the database of choice.
2. Lack of Image/Video Optimization
While it is tempting to use high-resolution images or videos on your website, it is important to remember that these demanding page elements take longer to load. This can be due to images that are too large, or too high-quality.
To overcome these limitations, you should make sure images are not larger than necessary. For example, if your image is displaying at 400 x 600 pixels it should not be uploaded as 768 x 1024. Since it is unnecessarily large it will result in one of two things:
- You will have to resize the image before it loads, for example using PHP. This not only causes a delay, but it uses your server’s resources.
- The visitor will load the full-sized image (768 x 1024) which takes time.
In this example, you should resize the 768 x 1024 image to 400 x 600 on your computer using an image editor and then upload it to your website or server.
Along with resizing images, you should optimize them using one of a variety of data compression techniques. For example, you can ensure your web host has Brotli compression available on their server instead of Gzip which can result in faster load times.
Unfortunately, compressing video is a bit harder, so you may want to consider hosting those externally on a site such as YouTube or Vimeo and then embedding those into your web page.
As a general rule, images over 1MB in size are considered too large for an optimized site.
3. Load Spikes
If you are on a shared hosting environment, server load spikes are something that can happen from time to time due to multiple users all sharing the same physical hardware. While we work as hard as possible to keep these to a minimum by monitoring the servers 24/7 and taking action as soon as we see high activity, any shared hosting environment can be susceptible to this issue.
If you start to feel as though you are exceeding the limits of shared hosting, it may be time to consider upgrading to VPS hosting of the cloud or easy-to-use cPanel server variety. With a VPS, you’ll have more resources to continue expanding your online business. Best of all, since you aren’t sharing server space with other users, you have total control over your hosting experience. That being said, even a VPS platform can be hindered by unexpected load spikes.
Contacting our support team which is available 24/7 can provide you with more insight into any ongoing service issues. We also have a server status page that can provide additional information in the event of an outage.
4. Data Compression Not Being Used
One of the most popular forms of data compression used on modern web pages is gzip compression. This form of compression compresses each file before it is sent to the browser visiting the page, which then decompresses the file. This speeds up site loading times by decreasing the size of the data being transferred between the server and the browser.
To get a good baseline of how your site is performing, you could use a tool called GTmetrix to evaluate information on your site and provide you with some insight into what your site may be able to improve on. Even if your site is quick, this can help you make your code faster and lighter to help with server load– allowing more individuals to be on your site simultaneously without further increasing server load.
5. Inefficient Web Design
While the above issues result from unoptimized site code, poor web design choices can result in a website that is less responsive and loads more slowly.
It can be tempting to maximize the monetary potential of your website by including space for a large number of advertisements. Unfortunately, these page elements can sometimes use complex animations or high-resolution graphics that will ultimately slow down how fast your site loads. Your best bet is to find a happy medium between a page dense with ads and a page that loads quickly.
User Experience (UX)
There are hundreds of guides for improving the user experience (UX) for every popular content management systems (CMS). These are especially beneficial for those running eCommerce sites. For example, A/B user segmentation testing for tailoring the site to users of different demographics attracts more customers. Web analytics software can help with this as well.
6. Excess Plugins
Even though plugins can turn a simple website into a feature-rich, dynamic online space, there are unseen costs associated with them. The more plugins you install, the more the server has to handle whenever the page loads. This is particularly true for plugins that create public-facing page elements that load for all visitors to the website. It is also possible for plugins to draw resources even when they are not in use. To avoid this, uninstall any plugins that you are no longer using.
7. Ineffective Caching
Caching is a feature of web servers that allows for the temporary storage of copies of frequently accessed pieces of data. When used properly, caching prevents users from needing to reload portions of the same website every time they visit the page. There are many types of caching and caching software, so it is important to identify which works best for you. We recommend using W3 Total Cache, a powerful caching plugin for WordPress websites.
8. Poor Network Optimization
Sometimes a website loads slowly due to network-related issues, not issues with the website or server. This can be the result of poor internet service or unexpected spikes in traffic. In other contexts, it may be due to the physical distance between the user and the server.
Fortunately, there are ways to optimize your network to avoid many of these obstacles. For example, some users configure a third party DNS resolver on their web browser or local router.
9. Content Delivery Network
One popular way for websites to optimize their site speed all over the world is by leveraging the services of a CDN, or Content Delivery Network. These services provide servers in data centers in various geographic locations that essentially store local copies of website data. These local copies can be more quickly accessed by users located nearby, since the data doesn’t need to travel as far. If your site has a large amount of visitors from all over the world, a CDN is likely the right choice for you.
BootstrapCDN and Cloudflare are popular examples that can vastly enhance performance.
10. Connectivity Issues
Sometimes a site loads more slowly because of an issue on the end of the internet service provider (ISP), not the web hosting provider. A home or business network may struggle to connect to a website if the ISP is experiencing an outage or technical malfunction. These types of situations are difficult to resolve, since it depends on the ISP resolving the issue. Generally, these service providers have hotlines to report outages or service degradation.
Your site may also be performing slow due to a connection issue between your computer and our network which may need further investigation. To do so, you can run ping and traceroute tests which provide more insight into what your connection is doing every step of the way.
11. Excessive HTTP Requests
Every time a file is loaded on your site, an HTTP request is made to the server. This means that the more files your site has, the more HTTP requests are sent to the server. If you have a large number of files frequently accessed on your site, you may encounter an issue with too many HTTP requests bogging down the server.
To reduce the number of files the site needs to find in order to load, try combining multiple CSS files into a single master file, or at least a smaller number of files.
Also, ensure the HTTPS redirects work properly. This is a quick way to improve security and search engine optimization (SEO) at once.
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