This guide will help you squash those pesky download times, teaching you how to speed up your website with just several easy tips that you can implement today. If you follow these steps, you should see a significantly quicker page load time, and happier site visitors!
End directory URLs with a forward slash
One of the simplest improvements you can make is to ensure that all of your directory links have a URL that ends with a "/" forward slash. That's it. It may seem a bit small to have an real effect on your site, but by adding the forward slash you allow the server to instantaneously figure out that it is indeed a directory link, and not the URL to a file.
Example: <a href="yourwebsite">
Remove unnecessary characters & comments
Another easy task that will make your site that much faster is to remove/delete as many unused characters as you can, including those that appear in the comment tags. Such characters include white spaces and line returns, as well. These unnecessary characters take up an entire byte of data each, which can add up to quite a problem in the long run.
That means a comment with several sentences in it can hog a whole kilobyte of data to itself; imagine the speed of a page with a hoard of such comments. You can compress your file-size by as much as a tenth of its original size by following this step alone, and getting rid of the textual fluff in your code.
Delete useless META tags & content
META tags have always been popular among the search engine optimization (SEO) group, though their recent value has dipped significantly. Once upon a time, they were useful for displaying keywords and description tags to search engines like Google, who would then use this info to aid in their ranking of the site. Abuse by site owners to game the rankings has since devalued META content harshly, and your site's speed would be much better off deleting unnecessary tags/content and reducing kept META content to 200 characters of less each.
Relative vs. absolute call ups
When you call up a URL in your page code, it is very likely that you are using the "absolute" method, in which the URL is typed out entirely. This helps to avoid confusion for most, and is easily editable without causing a cascade of issues across the site's internal linkage, but it isn't the most efficient way to link. Relative call ups allow for a much more precise shorthand, which also means less data used.
Example: Instead of "<a href="yourwebsite>" you could also type "<a href="/directory/
Group "class" attributes into a single tag
Applying CSS to specific elements can be a trouble as you copy and paste your "class" attribute into each necessary tag -- the total number of which could be in the dozens, or even hundreds. Luckily, you can quite literally nip this problem at the bud by using contextual selector tags like "<div>"
<p>Example of red text #1</p>
<p>Example of red text #2</p>
<p>Example of red text #3</p>
Optimizing CSS for vanity images
Images are notoriously slow to load compared to their textual brethren, but that doesn't mean you have to let images bog your site down. The wonders of CSS allow site builders many options with which to improve their page load speed in the imagery department, one of which is calling up decorative/vanity images through CSS. Say you have image1.png, which is 150x150 pixels (a nice square); you can use CSS to load that image after your text, which means visitors don't have to wait for the image to load first:
You can also save on loading times when you replace simple text-oriented images, like buttons and banners, with CSS versions. The CSS versions are not really images themselves, technically, but a juxtaposition of various styling elements that comes together to produce the facsimile of an image.
Don't use tables for layout! Use CSS!
Are you using HTML tables to style your page's layout? Well, let me stop you right there -- using tables in place of real CSS styling is one of the biggest rookie mistakes site coders make. Talk to any coder and you'll get the same response: Don't use tables for layout! Period. Browsers have to parse tables twice (once for structure, once for content), when CSS is usually much more instantaneous.
Another issue is that tables won't load any part until the entire deal is rendered, and browers must re-load tables every new visit. CSS code can be lumped up into a single document that is stored in the user's cache for future reference, which puts CSS way ahead of the game in download time.
Take advantage of CloudFlare's page optimization
CloudFlare is hands down one of the best tools out there to improve your website, in more ways than just download speeds. When you put your page on the internet, it is left naked and open to any incoming traffic, regardless of whether or not it is legitimate, mechanical, or malignant. When you sign up for CloudFlare, your site is protected by the globally distributed cloud of networks through which visitors are routed before being sent to your site.
This re-routing is practically unnoticeable, and it will keep hackers, spammers, and otherwise malicious entities from gaining complete access to your site (which they could abuse to slow down your page for others, or worse). You won't need to download or install anything, and you don't even have to bother with code. All that is required is a small tweak to your domain's DNS, and you're set!
You don't need to be told that your page's loading speed is important, and neither do your visitors. If you want the best in the biz to get your site running smoothly irrespective of those who would cause your page harm, then you need the speed and security of CloudFlare. Just don't forget to put to use all of the aforementioned tools for page-loading success!
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