Website Speed is Key to User Experience and Successful Marketing Campaigns

February 23, 2022

As a web app developer, it’s fun and rewarding to create new and innovative ways to deliver quality site content. But overall site usability will always take priority over trends and creativity. One of the most foundational ways to improve user experience is speed: Ensure website performance is fast and stable. When content load time decreases, the message impact increases. There are several ways to boost web app response time, but a few concepts worth highlighting include minimizing page size, using content caching, and leveraging content delivery networks.

Minimize Page Size

Page size refers to the total initial download size of a web page, including HTML, CSS, Javascript, and any image or binary resources. The fact is that a web page (and its resources) must be downloaded to your device before it can be viewed in a browser. As one would assume, when there is less to download, the page loads faster. More often than not, images and video will be the “heaviest” items. It’s crucial to optimize and compress any images that are linked by your HTML. A realistic goal is to keep page size under 1 MB, especially when it comes to a home page or specialty landing pages. There are many page size analysis tools available, including Pingdom’s Website Speed Test, the Chrome browser Lighthouse extension, and Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Minimize page size to maximize message impact!

Use Content Caching

Content caching is another way of saying that certain site data is strategically copied and stored so that it can be later accessed more efficiently. Many web pages nowadays are virtual and dynamic; there is not a one-to-one association between a specific URL and a file on the site server.

For example, the WiredViews homepage is constructed on-the-fly via server processes that include:

  • Evaluating whether the URL is configured to be publicly-accessible
  • Retrieving page content from a database
  • Inserting page content into the appropriate sections of a page template
  • Populating user-specific messaging and scripts

The end result of those processes is a standard HTML text file that gets sent to a user’s browser. Those processes can be intense and time-consuming. But the cool thing is that it’s actually possible for the WiredViews Kentico site to save a copy of the generated HTML output so that the server doesn’t have to go through all of those intense “building” steps again! Making some reasonable assumptions about how long a given page is “good” allows us to keep using copies of the HTML instead of dynamically constructing pages from scratch.

Content caching can be done at many different levels and varies by site implementation, but the main idea is the same: use static copies of the output to reduce both server processing and response time. Caching means lower-intensity server processing and higher-intensity content presentation.

Leverage Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)

Finally, a content delivery network (“CDN”) is similar to the last method of site optimization, caching. But instead of keeping copies of site components on a single server, a CDN allows us to keep copies of site components on multiple servers throughout the world. The underlying concept is that it’s faster to download site content from servers that are geographically closer to you.

One example of a trusted, proven CDN is Cloudflare. Cloudflare has a free service which lets you easily distribute key content like images, videos, and any other file types on their hundreds of servers around the globe. This type of distributed caching is especially useful when sites have an international audience, so that all site users have a speedy experience regardless of their proximity to a site owner. A CDN lets all visitors experience the same snappy site, no matter where they live!

A faster site can improve user experience and the efficiency of marketing strategies. There are many ways to optimize your online presence, but these basic approaches can be a step in the right direction.

WiredViews has extensive experience in optimizing site performance, and our developers are ready to help accelerate your digital presence! Contact us today.