Beantin

James Royal-Lawson

webmaster

5 basic (and practical) ways to make your site load faster

Faster is better. There’s no arguing about it. Google likes faster pages, people like faster pages. Your 3G wireless connection loves leaner, slimmer pages. God damn, your shareholders love them too!


Website performance optimisation, like search engine optimisation – or any optimisation – is a fine art. It also follows the law of diminishing returns. The largest efficiently gains can be made from a handful of optimisations. Futher gains are possible but at an increasingly higher cost.

5 basic tips

Here are 5 practical ways that you can improve the load time of your web pages.

  1. Head stuff. Put CSS first, Javascript last – Javascript blocks loading the other files in the head part of your HTML. Put your CSS and Javascript in as fewer files as possible, and minify them all.
  2. Width and Height. Declare width and height on all img tags – this reduces the need for browser redrawing/reflow once images are loaded. Yes, you can set the size in CSS, but in the tag itself is marginally better and often possible for web editors to do themselves.
  3. Code efficiently. Both HTML and CSS. Deeply nested div tags, empty div tags and overqualified CSS-selectors make James cry. For many this will be the least practical suggestion in this list.
  4. Static content. Serve static content using a CDN or (for example) Amazon S3 and a separate domain (for example, I use media.t1n.se). With Amazon S3 it is very easily for any website to spread requests over 3 domains if needed. An additional advantage of a separate domain is that you can keep it cookie-free, reducing requests and bandwidth even further. Exception: serve your CSS from your main domain.
  5. Trim the fat! Have less stuff on your page! – Ground breaking advice I know, but it’s too easy to let your web pages become cluttered, especially with sliding banners, widgets, and other externally hosted scripts. Use ROPS to assess the cost of new features.

Bonus tips

It goes without saying that you should be using gzip compression and sensible caching policies on your web host – if you’re not already, then it’s likely that fixing it is probably not “simple” (or unfortunately someone somewhere isn’t up to their job).

Google’s page speed analyzer which is available as an additional to the Firefox add-on Firebug gives some excellent feedback on the state of your web site, including practical tips. It also provides optimised images and compressed scripts as ready-to-download files.

Yahoo have written up best practices with regard to improving site speed. The list includes 35 different tips, and should keep you going a fair while.

Finally, this article is a great bit of further reading and gives detailed advice but written in a way that makes it accessible for more than just the front-end web developers it targets.

Responsive

If you are working on a responsive website, then congratulations! Make sure website performance optimisation is a clear part of your work. It’s more important than ever in these types of websites and has a huge impact on the user experience.

If looking for ways to optimise your website feels a little beyond you, get in touch, I’d be more than happy to help you out.

James Royal-Lawson+ is a digital strategist, optimiser and web manager based in Stockholm Sweden.

19 Articles worth reading… (Spotted: Weeks 46-49, 2010)

A whopping 20 article post this time covering 4 weeks of articles spotted on my web-travels. Enjoy!

I’m not anti-SharePoint

Perhaps it’s not SharePoint thats rubbish, but the way it was implemented in your organisation?

Building Tomorrow’s Organization – without today’s IT?

You get the chance to start from scratch – how would you build your company’s IT organisation? Throw IT into the cloud! A provocative but insightful article.

Global Intranet Trends for 2011 – Sample

Last month the Global Intranet Trends report for this year was released. An executive summary and a some sample pages are included.

2011 Intranet Predictions

And once you’ve read the sample report from the Global Intranet Trends, why not compare and contrast its findings with these 10 predictions for 2011 from the Internet Benchmark Forum.

Building the Intranet Experience

Carolyn gives a few quick tips on how you can build a better intranet and then finishes off the post with a fine list of Intranet Twitter people.

Raising the Bar

It’s a people centric world, individuals are catching up quicker than businesses. Employees are circumnavigating policies and restrictions in the way they work in order to get the job done. Michael gives some suggestions of how you can act from both customer and employee perspectives.

Information flow part 4: Search statistics for our enterprise search

Kristian’s excellent series of posts continues with a look at how his organisation gathers and acts upon the search statistics that they gather on their intranet.

Internal comms at IBM shift from creation to curation

Insights into how the intranet and collaboration works at IBM. With over 400,000 employees IBM is like a small country. The sheer volume of content has forced IBM to embrace employee generated content and curation.

Why Joe Client Doesn’t Care About Standards

Selling web standards is no easy task. Clients need sites that are effective, but it’s our job as web professionals to bake web standards into our work – the client doesn’t really need to know the dirty details, just how (more) effective their website is.

Dark Patterns: User Interfaces Designed to Trick People

A wiki filled with examples of user interfaces (web sites) that are designed to trick people. Forget Wikileaks, this is the naming and shaming you should be reading. Educating and enlightening.

Thumbnail based web design?

Google Preview has the potential to make quite an impact in how people decide to click on a result in SERPs. Just now I suspect previews are not widely seen – but it’s wise to put a bit of thought into how your pages look in it – and an important web management task to check your preview thumbnails.

FAQ: Instant Previews

For anyone managing a website, you should read this FAQ. It pretty much explains everything you need to know about how Google collects, generates and uses the preview thumbnails. Many sites will need some tweaking – and right now i’m not talking about design tweaks, but under the hood stuff.

Web Designer’s Guide to PNG Image Format

The PNG image format has become the de facto standard in web design. This is probably the best guide and explanation i’ve read about PNG.

CSS Vocabulary

Pseudo-classes? Child-selectors? Descendant Combinator? Ever struggled to remember what all these odd sounding CSS terms mean? well now you’ve got an easy to read reference to help you out.

Content Strategy, IA, UX or SEO: What’s My Problem?

There are numerous aspects and angles to managing an effective web site and web presence. In this post Dan details some example scenarios and describes some possible solutions.

Becoming a Storyteller

A well researched and well written blog post by Andreas. My dumb-ass executive summary: Storytelling is da shit.

Social Media. It’s There To Give Your Brand A Body

Johan drums a similar drum sometimes in his posts, but it’s a drum that’s worth beating. He has my permission to keep writing this kind of blog post until the majority of companies have heeded his advice.

Mobile OS usage splits the world

As I highlighted in my blog post almost a year ago, the world-wide distribution of smartphone usage and Mobile OS usage is not uniform. The picture in India and Asia is vastly different to North America and Europe. It’s not all iPhone and Android y’know.

We Will Eye Track Almost Anything!!! (Part 3!)

And finally… More “Will it eye track” fun from the Acuity ETS blog. This time they show off some eye tracking data gathered from abseiling down a hotel. Pointless fun – well, almost pointless – it was for charity…

12 Articles worth reading… (Spotted: Week 42-43, 2010)

Information Architecture 101: Techniques and Best Practices

A great “briefing paper” from Six Revisions, intending to raise awareness of the discipline with designers.

Mental Models

The latest Alertbox post covers what users think they know and how that affects their behaviour. Users, designers and developers all have differing mental models. You need to work with conformity not against it, and gently adjust the mental models of your visitors and users.

10 essential usability guidelines for websites

If every website followed the ten points in this list, i’d suddenly have hardly anything to complain about any more. Well, perhaps not *hardly* anything – more like “less”.

How Yammer Won Over 80% of the Fortune 500

Yammer boasts that 80% of the Fortune 500 use Yammer. I wonder how many of those 400 companies have adopted Yammer as their official, or main, collaboration platform?

How I learnt to stop worrying and love enterprise microblogging

Nice case describing how Yammer took flight at AXA Australia in just the few months since August.

Information flow part 3: Why persistent links are important

I’m really enjoying Kristian’s series of posts about aspects of his work over the last couple with the intranet at Region Västra Götland. This particular post goes into the details of how they’ve tried to deal with managing URLs and links across multiple systems.

How we improved our intranet search experience

Luke describes how they implemented and tweaked their Intranet search (using a Google Search Appliance). Some good lessons-learned and insights that anyone dealing with intranet search can make use of.

Report: iPad Is an Enterprise IT Triple-Threat

The headline talks about iPad (and thereby iSO) but the report concludes that Android and HTML5 should also be prioritised. I’m going one step further than Forrester and saying prioritise HTML5 and Android. Plan for mobile/wireless working and plan soon.

How Google tested Google Instant

An insight into how Google tests it’s products (before launch in this case). What I find interesting is that normally Google uses eye tracking whilst testing. It gives them real data to work with. In this case, Google Instant, they chose not to. Why? I suspect they did try, but realised that far too many people were spending too much time looking down at the keyboard whilst typing – and not looking at their instantly-changing search results.

How Facebook Decides What To Put In Your News Feed – These 10 Secrets Reveal All

Some useful testing into how Facebook decides what to display into your news feed. Would be interested though to know their source for saying “Top News is how a vast majority of Facebook users get their information”

20 Real Tips for Hiring a Social Media Consultant

A good list to help you separate the wheat from the chaff in the world of social media consulting. You don’t need to hold yourself religiously to all 20 points, but there is some really good, honest, to-the-point advice in Pam Moore’s post.

How Google dominates the Web

If you had any doubts about just how dominant Google are in our World of Web Stuff, then this Royal Pingdom posts shows you the stats in easy to consume pie-charts.

Introducing: The Beantin Beta Blog

As part of my work as a web consultant most days I end up investigating, testing, playing, learnng or reminding myself about some web related thing or another. On many occasion I’ve wanted to let you in on those little journeys and even though I do, 140 characters isn’t always enough, and a detailed beantin.se blog post is overkill.

Screenshot of The Beantin Beta Blog

I needed somewhere a little less formal, more tips, and less opinion – so the Beantin Beta Blog was born.

Your own, personal, webmaster

My hope is that this additional blog will be the blog of the webmaster who is sitting by your side. The beta blog is going to be raw, possibly even wrong at times, but useful. It will hopefully have a similar mix of technical and non-techncial as this blog, although i’m not promising anything. So those of you who are a little less technical, hold tight just in case.

Beantin Manifesto

It will also help me keep the promise of my (soon to be published) Beantin manifesto – Increase openness, share knowledge, and help horizontally link the numerous skills needed to do web stuff and to do it well.

Meta descriptions on gerrymcgovern.com

From August 2009 until the point of writing this, each of the weekly articles published by Gerry on his website has contained incorrect meta description content. In this short video I highlight two of the ways in which this has a significant impact on his web presence.

Update 22nd August

Gerry has in his latest blog post fixed the problem and said a little thank you on Twitter. Little things, easily fixed. It’s really is worth giving your site a regular health check.

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