There are two things that get under my skin with regards to the internet; 1) Ancient websites and 2) Watching the winding circle as I wait for a page to load. There are many reasons why a website can be slow. In this post, I’ll chat about why some websites are slow and what you can do to make your own website faster.
The first reason, and this is particularly relevant to South Africans is the speed of your connection. I made the choice of my cellular provider based on price and not connectivity speed and I feel the consequences daily. Sometimes it even lies to me and tells me I’m connected when I’m really not. I’m not going to chat too much about this though because we don’t have control of the client’s connectivity. Below, I will discuss the areas that make websites slow.
- Bandwidth: Any website is hosted on a server somewhere. When hosting your website, you decide on how much bandwidth you allocate the server. There is however, a direct correlation between speed and price and sometimes price wins.
- Content: Media is a major contributor to the time it takes to load a page. I’m sure we’ve all experienced a situation where a website just doesn’t want to load and when it eventually does, all the guilty pictures and videos pop up. Even looking at the time it takes to load a YouTube video compared to a Wikipedia page, the difference is enormous.
- Client-Server Geography: Information, much like cars, takes time to travelling and the further the distance, the longer the waiting period. You can even try this one out for yourself, compare the time taken to load a .co.za website compared to a .co.us website that both have similar content. On faster internet connections, this isn’t so easy to notice but it definitely matters!
There are many different reasons that dictate internet speed and some can be very subjective. However, as the owner of a website, there is a lot that you can do to improve on speed.
- Server: Servers, are very similar to computers, they too have processors and RAM and many components that contribute to performance metrics. So, choosing a server with the right specifications is imperative especially if your website has a wide range of functionality. As stated above, the location and bandwidth of your server can also affect the speed of your website. Bandwidth costs money, but the location of your server is a cost-effective way of improving your websites speed. If you are mainly targeting South Africa users, it only makes sense to host your website locally.
- Content: In some cases, such as for photographers, a large amount of media is necessary. However, there are tons of compression tools out there that will reduce the file size of media elements without jeopardising the quality significantly.
- Caching: The other schemes are obvious and common. However, caching is a great tool that can improve your user experience drastically. So, with caching, instead of fetching the website every time it loads, you can allow for your website to be stored locally on the user’s machine. So, when the user wants to return to the website, their computer checks if the website has been changed since the last time it was loaded. If not, it just pulls up the local copy which is much faster than asking the server for it again.
You have a lot of control over your website, it is yours and there is no reason why it can’t be fast.
What are your experiences with slow websites? Leave a comment or question below.