Most webmasters don’t think about scalability in terms of performance until their users start complaining. These users could be internal employees using a cloud application for productivity or customers browsing your site for products. Poor performance is one of the biggest website killers, so you should do everything you can to ensure that you monitor your site for speed.
Most site owners start off with a fast site, but then load times get worse as they build traffic. Speed issues can work against you, and it’s one of those issues that slowly catches up to you. Before you know it, you’re losing customers based on your server’s poor performance. There are the obvious reasons such as a slow server or low bandwidth, but here are some reasons you possibly didn’t think of.
1) You’re Using Shared Hosting
Shared hosting is great for small sites with little traffic, but you’re sharing a server with sometimes thousands of other site owners. You can use tools such as Domain Tools to find out how many other sites are hosted on your server.
While most hosts limit the amount of resources one site can use, you don’t know what other people are doing on their sites. Just one site can ruin it for everyone else on the same server, so it’s best to avoid shared hosting unless you host a very small site where speed will never be an issue. This means any non-critical site where you don’t make any money off of it staying online and maintaining high performance.
2) Your Server’s Location
Data across fiber travels at the speed of light, but distance is still a factor in website performance. If you own a site with mainly American users but host your site in China, this could be a problem with your performance.
This issue is completely eliminated with CDN server. CDNs provide you with servers across the globe, and data is transferred from a data center that is geographically close to your users. Data still must travel across a wire, but shedding thousands of miles between server and user will greatly improve your website’s performance.
3) You’re Using Old, Bulky Image Formats
BMP and JPEG image formats are fine for storing images that you share on social media, but not for a website that relies on performance for traffic and user engagement. PNG is a better format, because you can scale an image without losing image quality. BMP files are too large, and changing the size of a JPEG image often means the loss of quality.
If you still decide to use large images, you should compress them. Compressing images will keep the file small as it transfers to your user’s browser, and then the browser expands the image when it displays.
If you’re using WordPress, here are a few plugins to consider for image compression and optimization:
4) Using Images for Text Instead of Cloud Fonts
It used to be that the only way you could ensure that special fonts showed up in the user’s browser was to display messages in an image. With the advent of cloud fonts such as Google Fonts, it’s no longer necessary.
If your site has been around for at least a decade, it’s possible that your site is using images to display specialized text. It’s time to change these images to cloud fonts for better performance. With cloud fonts, you no longer need to worry that the user won’t see the content the same way that you see it in your browser.
5) Unused, Bulky Plugins
It’s not uncommon to install WordPress plugins that look interesting. If you don’t use them, you leave them active just in case you change your mind. The problem with leaving all of these plugins active is that they can cause slowness issues on your site. Even worse, they can leave your site vulnerable to cyber attacks if they are poorly coded and aren’t maintained and patched by the developer.
At the very least you should disable plugins that you don’t use, but the better route is to delete them from your dashboard. Remember that these plugins must load each time someone opens your site, so too many of them can affect performance. You should only install plugins where the developer regularly provides updates each time WordPress upgrades its platform.
Always Monitor Your Site
The only way to identify performance issues is to monitor your site. Whether it’s a bad plugin or your host server is overloaded, you can identify these issues by monitoring your site. Severe problems can be identified by just accessing the site once a day and checking on its speed.
If you feel that your performance is suffering, a CDN can eliminate many of the issues that cause speed issues. A CDN uses data centers around the world, so data transfer and shared hosting are no longer an issue for you.
Don’t just ignore performance issues, because it gets worse as your site grows. Your site might be slightly slow now, but it just gets worse as more users visit your site.