We’re in the thick of the holiday season right now, which means before long it will be time to start thinking about New Year’s resolutions.
The most common resolutions, as you might have guessed, are to lose weight and stay fit. And those resolutions are easy to break — especially for those of us who sit in front of computer screens all day.
Instead of worrying about your waistline as the end of the year approaches, try a resolution that could help your business — “slimming down” your website to improve loading times and user experience for visitors.
After all, it’s no secret that Google looks at site speed as a ranking factor in their search engine results. If your website can’t keep up, your rankings and organic search traffic may suffer, which can lead to more problems than a third helping of pumpkin pie.
Make sure your site speed is optimized — or have your web developer do it for you — by following these recommendations:
Save Your Website Files the Right Way With These 4 Tips
1) Transfer Images with a File-Sharing Site
When our team is collecting content from a client to build a new website, we usually have to get our hands on a bunch of proprietary images — staff photos, company logos, product images, etc.
One of our best practices is to gather the largest website image files available from the client, so we can make sure that the images look good on high-definition computer and smartphone screens.
Filling a website with a bunch of multi-megabyte images, however, is a good way to slow down your site’s loading speed, which hurts user experience and can affect a site’s Google ranking. Our content collection system has evolved to ensure that our design team can work as quickly and effectively as possible and our clients have great images on their sites without sacrificing speed.
The first step is asking clients to share their proprietary images through a file-sharing service like Dropbox or Google Drive. This way no images get lost in the shuffle of an email chain and clients can upload images without worrying about if they’re optimized.
Once we’ve collected the images for a client website that we are hosting, we use a WordPress add-on called WP Smush to optimize the images. This ensures that our client’s images aren’t going to slow down page loading times (or hurt their Google rankings) with large file sizes.
2) Put Videos on a Hosting Site — Not Your Server
Large images can contribute to reduced loading speeds, but adding a video directly to your server is a great way to slow your website down to a crawl.
Another best practice we stick to as web designers is not putting videos directly on new websites. Instead of filling up your site’s precious storage space with a massive video file, add your video to a site designed to host videos like YouTube or Vimeo.
Uploading to these sites is easy, and your WordPress site is designed to interact seamlessly with videos linked from these locations. This means you can add as many videos as you want to your site — as long as they are hosted elsewhere.
3) Use a Third-Party Service for File Uploads
If you need to accept files from your website visitors — technical specs for a quote proposal, for example, or resumes from potential new hires — we recommend either setting up a dedicated email address for these submissions or using a third-party service like Formsite to accept these files.
In this case, it’s not just your site’s loading time that’s at stake — although allowing outside users to upload files to your (limited) website server can slow your website down significantly. Making an unsecured portal available on your website can expose your site to security risks from uploaded viruses or malware.
By using a third-party service for file uploads, you create a degree of separation between your site’s security and the internet’s bad actors, keeping your site safe and running smoothly.
4) Content Delivery Network (Techie Tip Alert)
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a dedicated server that keeps your website running quickly by storing information on a global cache of servers, not in a single location like typical web hosts. For WordPress websites, this allows for faster, more efficient delivery of your media.
As Elegant Themes notes, a user’s location can impact the load time of your website. If your website has an international audience, a CDN ensures that wherever your site’s visitor is, the images, stylesheets, scripts, and other information will reach your users as efficiently as possible.
Bonus Tip: Don’t Send Large Attachments in Email
This won’t help your website run any faster, but it can make your working hours more productive and successful, which is the point of having a website, right?
Anyway, if you find yourself sending large attachments via email regularly — videos, large images, etc. — it’s time to start using a file-sharing service like the ones mentioned in #1.
These services allow you to upload large files more quickly and in the background while you do other things. And when the file is uploaded, all you have to do is share the link — no more worries about whether or not the email will bounce back.