Web Performance Optimization

Hello! Welcome to Web Performance Optimization: Part 1. Check back for Part 2, where I cover what can be optimized to give you the most efficient site possible.

I enjoy digging through documents, case studies, experimental codes and formats, and Google’s massive knowledge banks to see what I can learn and apply to the work I do for my clients (or even file away for when I might need an ace up my sleeve). Having knowledge on a niche topic is extremely valuable – something I figured out in middle school when I started working part-time. I have no doubt that you’ve seem countless articles about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I’ve even written a couple of articles about what you can do to optimize your content.  In my opinion, the specialized knowledge that can put you ahead of the pack is Web Performance Optimization (WPO).

Whenever I start working with a new organization, I actively watch for areas that would benefit from having an in-house expert. For example, while in university, I was as a sales associate in retail. I noticed that we weren’t selling many men’s suits, despite a lot of guys trying them on. I found my opportunity to be an expert and learned everything I could about the suits, inside-out and upside-down. A funny thing happened when I started selling more and more suits: my coworkers started to sell more too. I took away the mystery of this item, broke it down, and made it accessible to everyone. Because of that, the whole team was able to benefit, not just me. And at $500+ per suit, that ain’t half bad.

My point is there was a viable option for hitting our goals right in front of us, all it took was a little extra focus on one aspect of what we were doing. No one was working on this angle because they thought learning the many small details to secure the sale would be very tedious and they did not see their own Return On Investment until they saw someone else succeed.

What is Web Performance Optimization?

Simply put, WPO is a term used to describe enhancements and manipulations to the elements of a website to reduce load times, bandwidth strain, and increase how efficiently your website works in both the user’s browser and the host’s server. So what does this mean for your business? WPO contributes to a better SEO ranking (there it is again…). The catch is that WPO has a lot of details that if not taken care of properly, can literally break your website.

Check Your Performance With These Free Online Tools!

 

 1. gtmetrix.com

This service is my personal favourite. It offers a clear list of criteria your website is being measured on and offers the optimized versions for you to implement if you aren’t sure how to properly optimize an image or minify a CSS file. It scores your site using two different services as benchmarks, Page Speed and YSlow. If you register for a free account, you can even keep track of specific URLs over time to see how your site statistics in a longitudinal assessment. You can also compare URLs to compare and contrast side-by-side how two or more pages on your site perform differently.

2. PageSpeed Insights

This free service is offered by the big kahuna, Google. Although you might think this would be at the top of my list just for that reason and the fact that Google seems to be telling you exactly what you need to fix in order to be scored better, I find the details of the results lacking and not very informative, especially if you aren’t a full-time developer or optimizer. A plus PageSpeed Insights does get a check mark for is the score for the mobile version of your website, which is increasingly important now that the internet is available virtually everywhere from a small black piece of glass and metal.

 3. Pingdom Tools

This is a comprehensive and very detailed way to check how your site is performing if you are interested in numbers only. This service is fantastic to source data for a client report or specific information like the size of your landing page in MB broken down by content type such as image files, CSS, and JavaScript files.

Check your scores across all three and see how they compare. Make not of areas you could improve and check back for Website Performance Optimization Part 2: What Can I Optimize?

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