Websites of individuals and smaller businesses can often have slow access and load times due to several causes. Large corporations employ teams of people and invest millions in hardware to have fast websites. However, there are things that can be done for personal and small business websites to speed up their load times.
Shared Versus Dedicated Hosting
The company that hosts the website puts all of the website files onto a computer server that is connected to a slow-medium-high speed Internet backbone connection (Each company will differ in speed connectivity). However, most often the slowdown of a hosted website is associated with shared hosting.
Shared hosting puts hundreds, possibly thousands, of websites on a single computer server. As people browse the Internet and click on links for the websites hosted on the shared hosting server, the pages are cued up and sent out on a first-come-first-served basis. At peak times, the lag may be many seconds long. To avoid this, dedicated hosting is offered. It is more expensive, but it gets a website on its own server to prevent lag.
Load Time Issues Caused by Large Files
High resolution images are great to look at. However, even over fast Internet connections those images take much longer to load and format for viewing on a web browser. Use lower resolution images in the kilobyte range. Add a link to the image for the high resolution one where necessary. This is especially useful for sites that are about photography.
Limit the amount of video, Flash and other slow loading content on any given page. Never enable automatic playing of any video on a website. Also, only in rare instances should audio such as background music be used on a website. Most people dislike it, and it takes time to download the audio before it will start playing.
Clean Up the Code
Run a clean program to check for HTML and other code problems or inconsistencies. Web browsers do a great job at formatting and correctly displaying pages that have bad code, but the drawback is slow load times. Clean code does not generate errors and it loads and displays quickly.
Be sure to check how a page looks and loads on several computers, and use different browsers too. Clear the cache and cookies before each recheck after making changes to the website. Keep in mind that a lot of text is not an issue, but many images, videos and content that requires activation of plugins such a Flash or Java can slow down page load times considerably.
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