Why Is My Website So Slow?!
It seems that over the last decade, there has been an “arms” race between internet connection speeds and how many widgets and plugins web designers can load onto a website. All these affect how slow your website can be. It’s incredible to think that in the late 1990’s, when we started designing websites, we were connecting to the internet at speeds of 14.4 kb/s. To put that into perspective, it would take around 3 minutes to download an MP3 song. If Netflix was around back then, it would take you 72 DAYS to download a movie!
So although we are really spoiled in terms of how quickly we can download data (the average person now connects to the internet at speeds of 131,000kb/s) web developers and designers have also packed on additional bells and whistles to make websites look better. These “bloat” up websites and take up additional resources to load and run.
Improve Your Web Speed!
We often get calls from clients asking why their website is so slow. It’s a very common question and rightfully so, needs to be addressed. Here at OMIS.ca, we have all the tools and most importantly, have the experience to diagnose and troubleshoot slow websites! With search engine requirements putting a heavy penalty for websites that load slower than 5 seconds, it’s a topic that can’t be ignored. Search engines aside, you also owe it to your users to deliver the content in a timely and presentable manner.
“At OMIS.ca, we have all the tools and most importantly, have the experience to diagnose and troubleshoot slow websites!”
We will always first ruling out the obvious such as internet connection speed and ensure it’s a multi-user issue and not an isolated case. Quite often the issue lies with how the website was built and how the website is managed. Below is a list of our most common findings.
7/10 cases we deal with respect to slow websites have to do with the WordPress platform. We’re not saying that WordPress is a poor solution to website design but if not properly configured and managed, your WordPress website can quickly plummet to the bottom of search engine rankings and make it a nightmare for your users to view. Out of the box, the WordPress framework is a very robust, resource-efficient and a fast website framework. However, we find users love to load on plugins for nearly everything imaginable. These are the culprits that bog down a WordPress website and bring your site to a slow crawl. Plugins such as newsletters, backups, security, SEO, image tools etc… add an additional load on your website and slow it down.
We are not saying not to use plugins but it’s important to see how your theme interacts with certain plugins and also assess if the plugin could be “built” in to the theme rather than as an extension.
2. Image/File Sizes
All our phones and digital cameras take great pictures. In fact, it’s strange to find a camera or device that takes a picture with less than 8MB resolution. Most of these pictures (especially for photographers, bloggers and other picture-heavy websites) usually go straight from device to website without any optimization or resizing. We recently worked with a client who had this particular issue and as an example, have a look at the following 2 images.
Do they look any different? To most, they don’t! The one on the left is actually 4000kb (straight out of my camera) and the one on the right, is 99kb after a little optimization. As I mentioned above, with internet speeds of 131MB/s, waiting 0.03 of a second to load this image versus 0.0003 is not much. The issue comes when you have a user base of say 200 people that open and read your blog at the same time. Or if you average a very conservative 50 views per day. 200 x 4000kb is 8GB of immediate data transfer or bandwidth (vs. 19MB with the optimized image). This also doesn’t account for the additional bandwidth needed to run your website and all your other blogs, pages etc. Most discount hosting providers like GoDaddy and HostMonster don’t have the resources to load 8GB+ of data instantly and as a result, it creates a bottle neck or slows down your website.
The issue also comes over the course of a month when you risk your site going down due to having exceeded the allowable bandwidth or data transfer for the month. For example 50 views per day, 30 days a month multiplied by 4000kb is 6GB of data transfer (vs. 0.14GB with he optimized image). Not many people consider this but think of the energy usage and cost that it takes to run 6GB versus 0.14GB of data on a server. Or to put it in simple terms, running a 40 watt “traditional bulb as opposed to a 3 watt LED bulb that output the same amount of light!
Is your website slow? Call us now 705-721-9670. We’ll speed it up in a jiffy!
3. Third Party Applications
Third party applications are tools that you can incorporate into your website that “look” outside of your website to run the application. A few common 3rd party apps would be like the Facebook widget or an Instagram image feed or an online booking form that a separate company provides you in the form of code to paste onto your website. Even essential apps like Google Analytics or the ReCAPTCHA human verification code use up resources that can slow down your website. Quite often on their own, these aren’t too harmful but as mentioned in the example above, a high traffic base and the compound effect of having many slow processes on your website can tip the scales and cause your site to be slow.
4. Bad & Deprecated Web Design
I put this item last but quite honestly, it should be the first consideration as to why your website is slow. My intentions behind writing this article was done under the assumption you have a fairly new website that is acting slow. I think it’s human nature to want to improve things such as cars, building materials and improve the efficiency on the way things operate. It’s no different in the world of web design and development. I take a look at some of the websites we’ve built 5 and 10 years ago and sometimes scratch my head on how inefficient things were back then.
With advancements in coding standards and technologies, old websites are getting left behind. Even you might have noticed that every once in a while you come across a website that doesn’t work. In fact, take a look at our website from February 2007. You might notice it doesn’t load at all! We ran our navigation with Flash and our promo banners with flash!
The older the website, the more of a chance it is running using excessive code, scripts and other elements that will make it hard for browsers to interpret and render your website as slow. A slow website is a website that will never rank well, will cause your users to leave (and look for a competitor) and will eventually lead to a smaller bottom line.