Website performance is important. If your website is even slightly sluggish to load your customers will go elsewhere, and Google ranks websites partly based on the website performance. For example a site that loads in 3 seconds has 22% fewer front page views and and 50% higher abandonment than a site that loads on 1 second, at 10 seconds it’s 35% fewer views and 105% higher viewer abandonment (source). Amazon found that for every 100ms (ie 1/10th of a second) improvement in page load time their revenue increased by 1%, which starts to sound significant when you realise speeding a website up by 1 second is a 10% revenue increase for very little work. For photographers a fast website will keep people on your site, looking at your images, considering whether to book you.
Modern websites are complex. They’re usually made up of dozens of elements, each of which can be a page, sub-page, image, script, etc, most pages are generated dynamically by WordPress or a similar system, and most website are hosted on shared resources. It takes an expert to understand the big picture and optimise each of the elements.
We’ve had years of experience in performance optimisation, both for public websites and large government systems, and we understand the plumbing of the internet – TCP, DNS, TTL, CDN, caching, etc, etc.
We significant increased the speed of our own photography website using the following techniques:
- First up we put in a caching plugin and configured it to cache everything, including front page galleries which were really slowing things down.
- We set up the pages and images so instead of being loaded on every visit to the website the resources that never changed were only loaded once, and pages are refreshed every hour. This has the side effect of letting the content distribution network (CDN) cache those resources and pages for faster delivery.
- We set up a CDN so the website was available from different computers around the world, as the closer the website is to the viewer the faster it is. There are several good CDNs, including one great free one.
- We set up domain sharding. This means the images and such are loaded from different domains in parallel, rather than from the same domain. This can give a significant speed up.
- We set up distributed DNS. DNS helps users find your website, this alone can shave half a second off the initial page load.
- We tweaked the theme to stop passing parameters when requesting static resources, as this was preventing caching and making the website load more slowly on every page
There were a few more little things we did along the way, but those are the major things.
If you need help with your website get in touch today!