Four Common Causes of a Slow Website, and How to Eliminate Them

Slow down

There’s an adage that says, “slow and steady wins the race,” but when it comes to your website, that’s a sure-fire way to fail. And in this case, failure doesn’t just mean losing a race; it means losing business. So, let’s identify four common causes of a slow website and eliminate them FTW.

A recent study conducted by Brand Perfect revealed that 67 percent of those surveyed cited a slow-running website as their primary reason for abandoning an online purchase.

Because of this, it’s imperative that you optimize your site for performance at all times. So what causes your site to slow down? More important, what can you do to speed it up? In this post we’ll identify four common culprits and explain how you can speed things up.

Four Common Causes of a Slow Website

1. Unoptimized Images

One of the most common culprits for slow sites is a large volume of unoptimized images. Full-sized images can consume a lot of bandwidth while loading. So, take time to resize your images. Take a look at the image tag – it allows you to set the height and width. Be sure to scale the photos proportionally so that they don’t get stretched or skewed. Then, consider changing image format, which can significantly reduce the file size. Finally, reduce image quality. No, that doesn’t mean making your photos look bad. It just means tweaking some simple settings. For JPG images, this is done by directly reducing the quality. In most cases, a quality setting of 80 to 90 percent will show no significant changes from the original version. And you can go even lower depending on the type of image, the detail, and the colors. For other image formats such as GIF and PNG, you can reduce quality by opting for a smaller color palette.

2. Too Much Fancy Flash

Fancy isn’t always fun. In fact, Flash can seriously slow down your website. Flash is the sumo wrestler of software – it’s big and bulky. And here’s one more vote against it: Flash is almost always incompatible with mobile devices, meaning that a large chunk of your audience won’t even be able to access it. So, if you’re using Flash, you’re slowing down your site for minimal benefit.

3. Bulky Code 

Inefficient or bulky code can create major roadblocks for your site. Many CSS coders may include white space in order to make pages more readable. The problem is, much of this white space can be eliminated while still maintaining readability. Give some thought to removing line breaks and excess spacing as this can do wonders for condensing your code, shrinking file sizes, and maximizing speed.

4. External Embedded Media

Another common culprit for a slow-running website is external media usage. That means cutting down on the videos and shiny stuff – they’re like carbs. Use them in moderation. Although you may find a fun video or smart slideshow that you think is relevant to your business, think twice before embedding someone else’s media into your site. Once you embed external material into your site, your pages will only run as fast as the host site. In other words, if that external site is having a particularly slow day, your site may run slowly too. Don’t let another site drag yours down! Whenever possible, it’s smart to host all content on your own server.

Is your page currently running at peak efficiency?

Use this speedy website checklist to make immediate improvements:

  • Resize your images
  • Change image format
  • Reduce image quality
  • Eliminate or minimize fancy flash
  • Remove bulky code including line breaks and excess spacing
  • Minimize media from other sources
  • Store media on your own servers

Photo by Flickr User Herr Olsen