30 Nov 2016

Performance Beyond Caching – Front End Optimization

When we speak of web services, the word combination ‘front end’ is often related to the interaction between a visitor’s browser and a website. Front end optimization or FEO may be compared with the process of fine-tuning a web resource in order to make it more user-friendly and speedy one.

FEO is usually used when you need to reduce the file sizes and decrease the number of requests needed for a given page to load. Overall, this content optimization has three main goals to achieve:

  • Diminish requests;
  • Reduce bytes delivered;
  • Expedite page rendering.

If you want to speed up your web resource by using FEO, there are always several effective solutions to try:

  • Reducing HTTP requests;
  • File compression;
  • Cache optimization;
  • Code minification;
  • Image optimization;

Let’s speak about these ways of FEO optimization in details.

Reducing HTTP Requests

When your site starts to load, a separate TCP connection should be opened for each HTTP request made, and the number of HTTP requests depends on the number of elements your web resource features. It means the richer your site is on various objects, the more time is needed for its downloading.

As the number of connections opened by the browser for a single host is limited, different FEO techniques are used to decrease the number of individual page elements. For instance, you may try resource consolidation to bundle numerous smaller files.

CDN is able to decrease server response time by pre-pooling connections and holding them open throughout the session.

File Compression

A standard website often consists of CSS, JavaScript, HTML and other code files, and the load time depends greatly on the number of elements you are going to use while creating your web resource.

If you want to speed up your website by improving site responsiveness, there is always a possibility to shrink CSS, JavaScript, HTML and other files by using Gzip. This file compression technique is able to reduce a code file size up to 60-80%.

However, there are several downsides of this Gzip. Firstly, it’s not effective in shrinking image file sizes, as they are already compressed. In addition, Gzip prevents a single file extraction.

When you use CDN to minify your files’ size, the files’ compression is often done automatically before serving them to your website’s visitors.

 Cache Optimization

Caching is storing your largest static files outside your server: either on your visitors’ local drives or a nearby CDN PoP. A properly made catching is able to decrease a website’s load speed drastically. However, it’s always tedious and often an ineffective task if done manually.

When you apply CDN to your website, you often get a user-friendly dashboard to manage caching rules for individual files and entire file groups and set site-wide policies

Code Minification

There is always a slight difference between writing a machinery code and reading a machinery code. When you create HTML, JavaScript or CSS files, you often use spaces, line breaks and comments for better understanding. However, machines are able to read a code without all these elements, making them unimportant characters.

Minification trims code to its barest essentials by half before compression and CDN has an ability to conduct an automated code minification.

Image Optimization

Reducing an image file size often means either caching or compression. The first variant often turns to be a more effective one because image formats are already compressed.

If you want to shrink an image, you may remove some of the header information or reduce the worsen the original image quality. Both of these options are known as lossy compression.

CDN turns to be an effective image files’ compression tool because it helps to automate the process of squeezing an image file and lets you choose between page load speed and image quality.

Sometimes CDN may offer a progressive rendering option which means a quick load of a pixilated version of the image. The CDN gradually replaces it with a series of better-and-better looking variants until the actual image is ready to load.

Doing a front end optimization is often a little bit tiresome and tricky. If you don’t know how to do FEO, you shouldn’t feel trapped with your problem. You may always find and hire someone who knows how to do it. Using CDN for improvement of your website performance is an optimal solution.