Make Your Web Pages Faster For Your Users and Search Engines

In the world of the modern web it is vital that you keep your web pages fast for your users to see and use, this is also true for search engines as Google is now going to take into consideration load times when indexing websites.

It can be very difficult to make these web pages smaller and faster with clients requiring high quality images/ graphics and dynamic effects such as videos and slideshows. There are however a number of things a web designer can do to make sure that the website is at top speed.

Image compression

It is important to make sure that any images used within the website are at their smallest file size without losing quality. There are many graphics programs out there that can help you to re-size your images so that they are smaller. It is also important to use the correct formats such as GIF and PNG.

The GIF format (Graphics Interchange Format) has been very popular on the web for a number of years due to its ability to create very small file sizes.

You do not really want to be creating large images through this format as you will see a loss in quality but for buttons, small images and backgrounds it is ideal.

The PNG format (Portable Network Graphics) has taken over the GIF in recent years due to its great compressed quality and low file size. PNG is great for logos and other large sized graphics.

External CSS Files

CSS is a very powerful web tool and when used well it makes websites look amazing. It can however slow down the performance of a website if it is used internally (inline) because it gives the browser too much code to read through at once. The best way to use CSS is externally, linking it in to your HTML.

Every great website needs a good style sheet or two but there are many websites relying on 4 or 5 style sheets which slows down performance and the way a search engine crawls the site. Try and keep CSS files down to a minimum and make sure they are external.

External JavaScript

JavaScript works wonders on a website helping it to look and feel more dynamic but just like CSS, if it is used too much internally it can slow down your webpage and give search engines too much code to look through when crawling your site.

Use JavaScript files externally and link them into your HTML for optimum performance.

Unnecessary code

When looking through the code of a website there is very often areas of code that really do not need to be there. This could be due to various developers and designers working on the same project or a website that has had changes over the years.

Unnecessary code like this makes the browser read things that are unimportant or non existent, which will slow the load time of the site. Just take the time to read through the code and strip out any areas that aren't needed.

Server

Good hosting is key to the speed of any website. Make sure that your server is up to date with the latest processors and can handle the traffic your website is getting. If you have a website that attracts thousands of hits then shared hosting will just slow down the website and make it unavailable to others, this is where a dedicated server is needed.

Keeping a check on your hosting can really speed up your website and keep users happy.

Script compression programs

It is a good idea sometimes when running various scripts and style sheets to run them through compression software which will compress JavaScript, CSS and HTML files to ensure that they are as small as possible. This will help to make the webpage fast.

There is one problem when doing this however, if you use a program like Mozilla Firefox's Firebug to inspect your code, it can be hard to find the exact area you need. This is because it tends to bunch things like CSS together as so it can be hard to spot the areas you wan tot change.

About the Author: Ian Spencer works for Clear Web Services, a SEO Web Optimisation and Web Design company serving the Forest Of Dean, Gloucestershire and South Wales. He has worked in the SEO and Internet Marketing world for many years, and working in partnership with another company has launched the new SEO business. http://clearwebservices.com/ - For More Information, please call 01594 835 857 or email info@clearwebservices.com.