Is your website (or web-based application) not performing like you expect it should? Not sure why or what to do about it? Then come learn about some key things you can do to have your website perform properly.
If there's almost one universal constant in the modern world, it's that business need websites.
The sites come in many shapes and sizes.
There's the old-style "brochure" website, that just says where you can find them, their opening hours, and the basics of their service offering.
They're nothing special, but they're at least a point of presence.
Then there's the brochure site combined with a blog, something that you can do pretty easily with tools such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla, among others.
It's still pretty simple, but the blog keeps it fresh and up to date.
Next up, there are ecommerce sites, whether from a very small business, or for larger concerns.
And finally, there are custom-designed web-based applications, the ones that let people do all manner of things.
Yet, sadly, regardless of the type of site, they seem to increasingly have one thing in common: they have lackluster performance.
In the modern world, where website and web-based applications are effectively a must-have for any business, sole-trader, government department, NGO, etc, it's appalling to me that they can perform so slowly.
What appalls me more, is when you look at a lot of them, as I'm increasingly spending my time doing, the reasons for the lackluster performance aren't anything magical.
As an external consultant, I don't often get to review the code behind the websites.
I can only look from outside in most of the time.
Regardless, there are a number of things that are all too often sorely lacking.
So, in today's post, I want to set out what I consider a basic set of principles that all websites-regardless of scale and purpose-should follow, if you want them to perform properly.
Optimise All Image and Video Content
Most sites these days are content-rich, relying heavily on images and videos.
This can be for any number of reasons, including:
Displaying products in an online catalog
Displaying short to medium term weather forecasts
Giving the user a virtual look around a company's office
Demoing a product images and videos are essential.
Below are two examples.
The first is of real estate agency McGrath, where high quality images are essential for showcasing properties to potential buyers and investors.
The second is the Australian electronics retailer, JB Hi-Fi.
However, from the growing number of sites I've been reviewing, a large proportion of that image and video content is not optimised.
As an example, one website I've been reviewing lately, I've been able to optimise most images by up to 35%!
If you extrapolate that out, if the average image size in the site was 200k, then a 35% size reduction will reduce the file to 130KB.
Sadly, an average size of 200KB is on the conservative size.
A back of the napkin calculation showed that the average image size was around 548KB.
Anyway, back to the discussion at hand.
"It's only 70k", you may be thinking.
What's all the concern about?
Well, how many images are being served by your site?
Say you have around 20 images, that's 1,400Kb per/visitor, assuming that they go through the entire site.
But Matt, the browser caches the images.
After the initial site load they do — not before.
As Steve Jobs knew all too well, and as the old saying goes, first impressions count!
Consider how slow your site seems to new visitors on that first visit?
Are they wondering how long your site's going to take to finish loading?
We all know the statistics.
They're not going to hang around long - at all.
What's more, speed is now one of Google's core ranking factors.
So, now ask yourself, how many potential visitors are you losing by having them wait unnecessarily long for images and videos to load?
But that's not the only consideration.
For every image that isn't optimised:
You need more server space
You're paying for more bandwidth; and
You're paying for more server hardware to be able to cope with the download demand
But that's not all!
In a world where mobile-responsive websites are ever-more the norm and 3G is still the average mobile network speed, the larger that your image and videos are, the poorer the performance mobile users will have with your site.
As a little exercise, have a look at your current hosting costs, and do the math to find out what you'll save if you start optimising images and videos.
If nothing else, your bottom-line will thank you!
Matthew Setter is a software engineer, ethical hacker, privacy advocate, & technical writer, who loves travelling. He is based in Nuremberg, Germany. When he's not doing all things tech, he's spending time with his family, and friends.