As a small business owner, you know that having a website is essential to attracting new customers and growing your business. But what many small business owners don’t realise is that having a slow or clunky website can actually do more harm than good. A fast and user-friendly website not only helps your customers find what they’re looking for, but it also helps your website rank higher in search engine results. Here are 10 tips for making your website fast and user-friendly:
Use a reliable web hosting service
Your website’s speed and uptime depend to a large degree on your web hosting service. Choose a reliable hosting service that can handle your website’s traffic without slowing it down. It’s worth investing a bit more in a reputable web hosting service to ensure your website is fast and reliable, but you needn’t spend a fortune. For a small local business website with a lower amount of traffic, there are plenty of hosting packages at around the £10 a month mark that suffice. Busier websites should budget more, talk to a professional to workout exactly what you need. Why not start by checking out our planet friendly sustainable hosting solutions (sorry, I had to work that in somewhere).
Images can greatly enhance your website, but they can also slow it down if they’re not optimised. Make sure your images are compressed to reduce their file size without compromising quality. You can also use lazy loading to ensure images only load when they’re in view, reducing page load times. You can also serve images in a next generation format like WebP. WebP is an image format developed by Google that provides high-quality image compression while maintaining smaller file sizes compared to other formats like JPEG and PNG.
To compress and convert images to different formats you can use online online services like TinyPNG. If you have a WordPress website you should also look to see if your cache plugin has any image optimisation features. Our personal favourite is LiteSpeed, but you’ll need to make sure your websites server supports this.
Use a content delivery network (CDN)
A CDN is a network of servers that stores and delivers your website’s content to users based on their geographic location. This can greatly improve your website’s speed and performance, especially for users in different parts of the world. WordPress has its own CDN, or you can opt to use a service like Cloudflare or quic.cloud.
Minimise HTTP requests
Use responsive design
More and more people are accessing the internet on their mobile devices, so it’s important to have a website that is optimised for mobile devices. Responsive design ensures that your website looks and functions well on all devices, from desktop computers to smartphones and tablets. The easiest way to design for mobile devices is to implement a mobile-first responsive design. You can use a pre-built responsive theme, or css framework like Bootstrap if you’re coding the website yourself. If you are working with a professional designer the chances are they are already using a responsive design for your website.
Optimise your website’s code
Your website’s code can greatly affect its speed and performance. Make sure your code is clean and optimised to reduce page load times. This can include removing unnecessary code, using CSS instead of images where possible, and optimising your database. Again, we like to use LiteSpeed to do this but there are alternatives if your server doesn’t support them. Try some of the cache plugins mentioned above, or look at WP-Optimize Cache or Hummingbird WordPress plugins.
Use a fast and lightweight theme
Your website’s theme can also affect its speed and performance. Choose a fast and lightweight theme that doesn’t have too many unnecessary features or widgets. This can greatly improve your website’s speed and performance. There are some great themes available for WordPress that you can use to build most kinds and styles of website. However, they can come with a cost. The extra, and often unused functions, can slow your site down considerably. Consider using dynamically loading themes and page builders like Divi, that only include the code for the features you use.
Test your website’s speed
Regularly testing your website’s speed can help you identify areas that need improvement. Use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix to test your website’s speed and get suggestions for improving it. However, this can get quite technical and you may need to budget for professional support from a web expert.
Keep your website updated
Regularly updating your website’s software and plugins can help improve its speed and performance. This can also improve your website’s security and prevent hacks and other security breaches. WordPress can do a pretty good job of keeping your plugins up to date automatically. However, we wouldn’t recommend this unless you have some form of uptime monitoring in place. Updates can sometimes go wrong and break your website. This is almost always recoverable, by deactivating the faulty plugin or restoring the site from a backup. Again, if you not technically minded it may be better to look at a website management service (sorry, I apologise for another shameless plug of our services).
Use a website monitoring service
As mentioned above, a website monitoring service can help you keep an eye on your website’s uptime and performance. These services can alert you if your website goes down or if there are any performance issues. This can help you quickly address any issues before they affect your customers. There are lots of options but we’ve used UptimeRobot before, and ManageWP.
Supercharge Your Website Today
So, having a fast and user-friendly website is essential for small businesses. By following these 10 tips, you can ensure that your website is fast, reliable, and easy to use, which can help you attract new customers and grow your business.