Home Insights 5 Steps to Speed up a Slow Website
10th July 2017 in Web Development

5 Steps to Speed up a Slow Website

Paul Wong-Gibbs

By Paul Wong-Gibbs

5 Steps to Speed up a Slow Website

Sometimes we get a project that we know we can really shine, giving our customers some Beautiful Code of great value that can help propel their business forward. We were approached by Grass and Holm who had really been short changed with their slow website. Although it looked perfectly respectable and did everything that business owner Fiona needed to do … it did it very slowly.

I’m not talking about a little bit slowly either … it was SLOW!

Before starting development, I ran the website through an industry-standard testing tool, and found the following:

Mostly 'F's (poorest grade possible) for a slow website

Those red “F” marks show that almost nothing on this website has been optimised for speed. Let’s breakdown one or two:

Time to First Byte
When your computer first connects to a website, it sends down a packet of information that gets your browser ready to start setting up the web page. The speed of this connection is crucial. In our example, it took 5 seconds for the connection to be made. The key reason is the company used to host the website either throttled the site, their infrastructure is too old, or their hardware needs replacing.

Compress transfer
Once the connection is made, your browser starts receiving data that tells it how to display the website. Of course, the more it has to receive, the slower it’s going to be. In this case, the website weighed 21.5 megabytes.

Bear in mind that the average website is 3MB … and you can really get a sense of the size of this beast.

Performance chart, time to load is 41 seconds.

This chart (above) shows the timing breakdown for the load of the old version of Grass & Holm – the last column indicates the high cost of this website. If you’re on a metered connection, this website would cost more to download than some You Tube video clips. And all it does is display text and a few images.

Path to Improvement of a Slow Website

Our path to improving this very slow website was simple:

  1. Copy the content across to a development size
  2. Remove the existing theme, including unused JavaScript and CSS, & redevelop the website with our in-house solution
  3. Crop, compress and minify images more efficiently
  4. Put the rebuilt site up on our fast & secure WP Engine hosting
  5. Seamlessly move the domain over to the new site

Once this process was complete, we were pleased as punch to receive the following performance rating:

Straight A awards for site speed, not a slow website any more

See? Straight A’s across the board. Here’s a more thorough breakdown:

Performance breakdown chart

The site now loads in 2.90 seconds – a massive reduction – and the site doesn’t look or behave any differently from the original. We removed some interstitial “splash” screens that were put on the site to hide the extremely long time it took to load, which inevitably turned a lot of visitors away.

Also, in terms of real cost, the amount of data you need to download was reduced from the original 21.5MB to only 463 kilobytes. That means the website is a lot more affordable for clients on metered connections.

These improvements in website speed have real conversion benefits.

Benefits to the Customer

To gain a good idea of how these improvements would benefit the company, we used the Page Speed Insights tool to see how the site fared against its competitors:

Ahead of the game: site loads 1 second quicker than industry leaders

The Test My Site With Google tool demonstrates that this site loads in around 3 seconds, which is a full second earlier than top performers in the Finance industry.

This solidifies the reputation of Grass and Holm as a market leader who cares about its customers.

Loading time rated excellent, low visitor loss.

Test My Site with Google estimates that this performance will result in a low estimated visitor loss due to loading times.

Are you experiencing high bounce rates on your website? Are you getting high visitor rates but low conversions?

Perhaps you need a performance review, which is a free service Indigo Tree offer.

Talk to Louise on 01442 877 473 today to find out more!

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