Fast load times are essential to any website. Users want pages to load instantly – if it takes too long, they lose interest. For visual based websites, this is possible even more important. Another factor is that visual based sites will likely load slower, simply due to the nature of the site. For this reason, finding ways to speed up your site and decrease the load time is key. Here are a few ways to reduce that load time, primarily for a visual based site.
This is a good solution for any page with a large number of images, and more so for high-quality web pages, which tend to be bulky and slow to load. You can reduce HTTP response time by as much as 70 percent with tools like GZip, which compress images, reducing the bandwidth requirement of your page, thus minimizing load time. Zipping or compressing images will dramatically reduce load time on your page.
There are several codes you can add to compress images. You can also use a plugin, but too many plugins will also slow down your website.
Using a CDN
A Content Delivery Network (or CDN) is a number of secondary host servers in multiple locations across the globe. Using a CDN means that when a user loads a web page, the site is loaded from the nearest CDN server, rather than the website’s central server. The server being closer means the load time is faster. It also helps with problems like bottlenecking and potential server crashes due to overloads.
CDN for images may be more important than standard text pages because an image based page will likely have more components. The time taken to send and receive HTTP requests through a CDN will be much less than through a central server.
Use Browser Caching
Cached data and images mean that for users returning to your site, certain parts of the website are already on their hard drive in the cache. This means fewer components need to be loaded, cutting load time by as much as 90 percent. If a large proportion of your website is visual or image based, this is a huge help – cached images can be loaded instantly, no download time or HTTP requests.
Size Images Properly
Rather than uploading an image that is 1000 pixels wide to a page that’s only 570 pixels wide and setting the width parameter accordingly, edit your image to the exact size you need it to show up on the page – in this case, 570 pixels. Reducing the color depth slightly and avoiding over sizing images, which take much longer to load, will speed up your site.
Use JPG or PNG rather than BMP or TIFF, and if you do need to use GIFS, go small and opt for a simple color pallet.
Other options for reducing load times and speeding up your site include reducing plug-ins and minimizing HTTP requests. For images, the ones I’ve covered are likely your best options.