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Five tools for optimising your website's speed and performance

Just for fun, let’s start with some ‘Did you Knows?’

  • SEO drives 1,000%+ more traffic than organic social media.
    Brightedge, 2019
  • A one-second delay in website load time can lead to a 7% reduction in conversions.
  • A two-second delay in web page load time doubles the bounce rate.
    53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load.
  • A 500ms slower website leads to a 0.6% reduction in session length.
  • Reducing page load time from 8 seconds to 2 seconds can increase conversions by 74%.
  • A delay in website load time can result in a 11% drop in page views.
    Gitnux Market Data, 2 August 2023

Perhaps most of those stats aren’t quite so fun, but it’s valuable to know what you’re up against and why you need to take action. Take heart, there are tools you can use to speed up your website and improve performance to give visitors the ideal experience. 

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1.  Page Speed Optimisation Tool

Consider Google PageSpeed Insights, which furnishes data on the speed of your page loading, the resources consumed, and the volume of requests made during the loading process. You’ll like the diagnostic details supplied about performance issues, giving you insights into the root causes of your website’s slow loading.

Google PageSpeed Insights examines and assesses the components of your website, such as HTML and JavaScript. It then generates a comprehensive report that underscores potential optimisation opportunities for the specific page tested. These recommendations might advise you on anything from browser caches to image optimisation, providing precise strategies to enhance the speed and performance of your website. The tool assesses your website's functionality across desktop and mobile platforms, guaranteeing an all-encompassing optimisation strategy that caters to the needs of diverse users.

You can pinpoint areas that require enhancement and employ this insight to enact essential changes aimed at elevating your website's rankings. Google PageSpeed Insights also undertakes assessments in the realms of SEO, accessibility, and best practices. You can even track performance improvements over time by comparing against your previous audits.

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2. Cross-browser testing tool

Cross-browser testing is the practice of evaluating how a website or web application appears and functions across different web browsers – from Chrome to Safari – operating systems, and devices. This is absolutely necessary to ensure a consistent customer experience. 

We like BrowserStack, which offers a cloud-based testing environment where users can simulate real-world conditions and interactions to identify issues that might affect user experience or functionality. BrowserStack allows for both manual and automated testing, helping developers identify and fix problems related to browser-specific behaviours, responsive design, and overall performance. 

At its core, BrowserStack provides a range of features tailored to enhance the testing process. It allows you to engage with the virtual browser environments in real time, and it’s this that makes the tool  invaluable for manual testing, debugging, and effective troubleshooting. BrowserStack places a significant emphasis on security, offering secure and encrypted connections and compliance with industry standards to safeguard the testing process.


3. Website caching tools

Cloudflare is a nifty content delivery network (CDN) and web security company. It optimises your website through a combination of performance-enhancing techniques that accelerate content delivery, reduce latency, and ensure a seamless user experience. 

For starters, Cloudflare operates a vast network of data centres strategically located around the world. When users access your website, Cloudflare's servers route the traffic through the nearest data centre. This minimises the physical distance between the user and the server, reducing latency and enabling faster loading times for your web pages.

Cloudflare also uses caching mechanisms to store static assets, such as images, scripts, and stylesheets on its servers. When a user requests these assets, Cloudflare delivers them from its cache rather than your origin server. This reduces the load on your server and accelerates content delivery, as cached assets are readily available and closer to the user.

What about security? Cloudfare’s Web Application Firewall (WAF) protects your website from various online threats, including malicious bots, SQL injections, and cross-site scripting attacks. By filtering out harmful traffic before it reaches your server, the WAF enhances both security and performance. It also filters out unwanted or malicious traffic, such as spam and DDoS attacks, before it reaches your server. This reduces the strain on your resources and ensures that genuine visitors experience uninterrupted access to your website.

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4. SEO Optimisation tools

Google Search Console is a free web service that lets you monitor and manage your website's performance in Google's search results. The purpose of this tool is to improve the performance of your website in terms of attracting visitors. 

It provides data that tells you the frequency at which your site appears in search queries, the specific search terms that guide visitors to your site, and the average positioning of your pages in search results. 

These insights provide a clear window into user behaviour and prevalent search queries, so that you can adjust your content strategy as needed. Moreover, Google Search Console is equipped to notify you about potential indexing concerns that could affect the visibility of your site on Google. This empowers you to identify and resolve issues that might hinder proper indexing.

It also gives you practical tools for submitting and analysing sitemaps, which are vital for facilitating Google's crawling and indexing procedures. The platform also serves as a source of alerts related to potential security vulnerabilities and other site-associated errors that might impact user experience and search rankings. 

SEMrush is another handy tool along these lines. What’s the difference? Google Search Console is primarily centred around offering insights into your website's performance within Google search results. 

In contrast, SEMrush is a comprehensive digital marketing toolkit that encompasses a wider range of features. These include keyword research, competitive analysis, site auditing, backlink analysis, and more. SEMrush offers insights not only into search performance but also competitive strategies, enabling optimization across various aspects of your online presence.

While each tool has its specific focus, combining their capabilities can give you a well-rounded approach to optimising your online presence.

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5. Performance optimisation strategies

Optimisation is normally integrated into a website's frontend development, which involves creating the visible and interactive parts of a website that visitors engage with.

You (or your developers) can achieve this with a variety of tools, we recommend these are implemented from the outset:

Webpack: This serves as a dynamic module bundler. This simply means that it takes web application assets, such as JavaScript, CSS, and images, and bundles them into optimised files for efficient loading and execution in web browsers. Webpack's capabilities extend to code splitting, which allows loading only essential code for each page, thereby enhancing loading times. This tool finds widespread use in modern JavaScript frameworks like React, Angular, and Vue.js for efficient asset and dependency management.

Gulp: Gulp stands out as a task runner designed to automate repetitive tasks within the development workflow. It employs a code-over-configuration approach, where developers define tasks using JavaScript code. Gulp effectively handles tasks such as minifying CSS and JavaScript, optimising images, and compiling Sass or Less into CSS. Its flexibility and simplicity make it a valuable tool for simplifying tasks and increasing developer efficiency.

Vite: This contemporary build tool is tailored for the rapid development and building of modern web applications. It harnesses native ES modules (ESM) to enable quick development and incorporates features like hot module replacement (HMR). Notably, Vite's development server is optimised for fast reloading and prompt feedback during the development process. This tool is particularly well-suited for projects that use frameworks Vue.js and React.

Do you need help?

While some of these tools are simple to use – which is why we’ve recommended them – you still might not feel confident in putting them to work. If you prefer putting the optimisation of your website in the hands of pros, then talk to us at h2o. 

We’re experts in designing, building and optimising websites for clients ranging from Harley Davidson and Annie Sloan to B2B clients such as Unipart or Essentra. We can do the same for you, allowing you to focus on your core business activities. You can get a taste of what we do by checking out some of our case studies or get in touch today.