Load testing and performance monitoring are great tools for helping your business understand how well your platforms perform under pressure, as well as identifying load time trouble spots. While these services can point your staff in the right direction to improve performance, however, making the necessary changes is a task that falls on their own shoulders. The list below examines several changes that help improve load times for a better user experience.
Trim Image Bloat
The web is a visual medium; both applications and websites rely heavily on images to engage users. However, formatting mistakes within images can cause the files to bloat to 10 times the file size, putting a huge dent in load times. Properly formatting images can dramatically improve performance.
Examine your content for PNG, GIF, and BMP images, and switch to JPEG images whenever possible. PNG images are still useful when the extra image quality is absolutely necessary, but keep in mind that PNG files can be upwards of 10 times larger than JPEG images of similar quality. BMP and TIFF files should never be used online
Additionally, images should be formatted to fit within the maximum possible size they could appear on the site. This can be tricky, because applications and websites using responsive design may sport several possible display sizes. Here’s a simple guide: If an image appears in a column that has a maximum display width of 720 pixels, then that’s the width the image should be cropped to. Taking advantage of server-side image resizing can be a big help here.
Combine, Compress, and Manage Scripts and Stylesheets
One fast and straight-forward way to get those page load times down is to combine the JS and CSS files every page on your site loads into singular files of each type. These files should then be compressed via minification to reduce the size of the files and minimize how much data needs to be loaded. This technique also improves load times by reducing the number of HTTP requests needed to generate a page, and takes advantage of caching to decrease all load times following the first page load. Locating the CSS at the top of the page and the JS at the bottom of the page also improves load times by playing to how the browser loads content.
Pay Attention to Caching
An efficient caching configuration reduces the frequency at which the server needs to rebuild pages and, in turn, the frequency at which the visitors need to reload content. Increasing the caching time via “expires headers” allows end user devices to save an already loaded web page for a longer period, speeding up subsequent visits. This works great for hub pages that users access to find content. However, extending the expiration time for too long can prevent visitors from seeing the latest content.
Your business can also improve load times by increasing the duration between page rebuilds for longer server-side caching. Also, remove query strings (e.g., “?device=iphone”) from page URLs if possible, because these pages can’t be cached. It may also be time to consider adding a CDN service to your platform to improve load times geographically. CDNs store copies of your platform’s content on servers in multiple locations, giving the end users faster access.
Faster load times help businesses thrive on the Internet. If your business is looking to optimize its website and application platforms, contact the experts at Apica today and find out how load testing and performance monitoring can benefit you.