CDN Performance
17 Mar 2020

Page Load Speed – Tuning for Optimum Performance

Page load speed is a vital metric for any site operator competing in the online market. As the world has embraced the digital realm, almost every commercial transaction in developed economies begins with an Internet search. Page load speed not only determines how high your site ranks on a search engine’s landing page, but it also has a direct relation to another crucial website metric – your bounce rate. Research conducted by Google proves there is overwhelming evidence indicating the direct correlation between site performance and online success.

In an age where every online user expects instant gratification, a website that takes time to load can harm a digital operator’s business. Not only does the site run the risk of users leaving, but a poor performing site could also detrimentally impact the reputation of an enterprise. However, by implementing a few techniques, you can fine-tune your online presence to meet the demands of today’s digital users.

Page load speed and Time To First Byte (TTFB)

The Time To First Byte (TTFB) metric measures the responsiveness of a web server. As its name suggests, it is the quantity of time it takes for an end user’s browser to receive the first byte of information it requested from the service. Typically, this performance parameter is calculated by adding the time it takes for your browser to send the request, the webserver to process it, and the time taken for the server’s response to reach the end user’s browser. The Chrome Dev Tools offer a TTFB measurement service. By leveraging the functionality of this built-in Chrome browser feature, you can ascertain the TTFB metric for any website. Using this measurement as a benchmark, you can then determine if any of the performance tweaks you configure on your site or server are achieving the desired effect.

1 – Enable Caching

Caching is a fundamental component in almost every aspect of technical architecture performance. From device memory to networking equipment, keeping a cache of information that does not need retrieving from a storage location improves system efficiency. When it comes to improving page load speeds, leveraging this technology can help you fine-tune your site, and enhance your end user’s experience. Browser caching configuration involves settings you can implement in your HTTP headers. The Cache-Control Header setting allows you to control various elements that can improve your site’s performance. From defining a max-age for your web elements to controlling which platform in your delivery chain manages this crucial setting, this vital component of the HTTP protocol can help you increase your page load speeds significantly.

2 – Optimize Your Images

Images play a central role on the web. Since the creation of the HTTP protocol, these HTML elements have featured on web pages throughout the World Wide Web’s 30-year history. As technology improved with faster bandwidth speeds and the introduction of new web development frameworks, images have taken a central role in user experience design. However, sharper formats with higher resolution have a direct impact on page load speeds due to the increased data size. As images continue to play a central role in web design, an image optimization strategy is a vital component in increasing the performance of your website. By leveraging technologies and techniques such as image scaling and compression, responsive design, and selecting the correct file format, you can fine-tune your site increasing page load speeds and enhance the experience of your end-users.

3 – Reduce HTTP Requests

Every web page consists of multiple elements. A typical online page usually leverages text, images, stylesheets, and JavaScript components that together create the user experience. However, the HTTP protocol sees each of these components as separate elements. Every time a web page loads, your browser makes individual HTTP requests for each asset ultimately rendering the final page for the user. Naturally, the more HTTP requests your browser needs to make, the longer it will take for your page to load. Many web platforms, such as WordPress, come with several built-in elements. Often users leave these enabled by default even if they are not in active use. By auditing HTTP requests, you can identify the resources that increase valuable page load times and remove them, fine-tuning your site for optimum performance.

4 – Resolve Any Render Blocking Resources

As mentioned, a typical web page renders after downloading multiple web elements. In most cases, these components load in the order defined in the HTTP Document Object Model (DOM). If you have slow loading resources, they could delay the rendering of your web pages in an efficient and timely manner, detrimentally impacting your end-users’ experience. There are a few techniques you can adopt to minimize the impact of any render-blocking elements. With CSS, you could concatenate all your files into a single CSS resource. You could also look at minifying it, effectively reducing its data size by removing any white space between the characters. When it comes to JavaScript, moving the scripts to the bottom of your HTML page will mitigate the effect of any slow loading. As with CSS, you could also concatenate all your JavaScript into a single file and minify it to reduce its overall byte size.

5 – Leverage a Content Delivery Network

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) not only enhances the delivery of your website across the world, but it can also dramatically reduce latency increasing your page load speeds. A CDN leverages network caching, allowing you to store static resources such as your images, CSS stylesheets, and JavaScript files on high-performance networks and servers located close to your end-users. When a visitor navigates to your website, the CDN provides a rapid channel for the static components of the web page, making it load faster and reducing the burden on your web server. Leveraging a Content Delivery Network also mitigates the detrimental effect of any render-blocking resources.

Page load speed requires a blended approach

The performance of your website is vital in today’s always-on, interconnected, digital world. Online visitors will abandon a site that takes too long to load, leaving poor-performing platforms at a disadvantage. Tuning your website for optimum performance requires a blended approach. You need to configure your site, web server, and CDN to ensure you offer your end-users the best possible experience. By implementing measures such as enabling caching, optimizing your images, and reducing the number of HTTP requests, you can increase your page load speeds significantly. In addition to these configuration changes, subscribing to a CDN service can further enhance your site’s performance, ensuring you are not disadvantaged in today’s competitive online economy.