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Web pages slow to load? No worries -- here are 19 fixes

What can you do to speed bloated, slow-to-load Web pages? Expert Tammy Everts suggests 19 different ways to fix the problem.

Soasta's senior researcher and evangelist, Tammy Everts, spoke at the Fluent conference recently about how Web...

pages slow to load can damage a company's reputation. Here she offers 19 ways to fix that problem -- all the while stressing that there are far more than 19 things you could do.

  1. Begin at the beginning. Pages have gotten very large and very complex. In 1995, the average page was 14.1 KB in size; in 2016, it's 2,281 KB. In the mobile world, it was 390 KB five years ago and 1,280 KB today. People respond with "Well, networks are faster today," but the benefit of adding extra MBPS is not as stunning as you'd think.

  2. Know where your page weight is coming from.

  3. Measure and create a performance budget. Here's great advice from Tim Kadlec on this subject, and here is his take on performance budget metrics.

  4. Use perfmap. It's a plug-in that overlays a map on your page and shows you the render times and sizes on the pages. It's handy and a great way to get the message across with nontech people.

  5. Try built-in live monitoring and feedback for internal use that you can see right across the top of every page. This lets you know if you are in or out of your SLA.

  6. Images! Around 63% of the average Web pages' images are not optimized. The fixes are: reformat, compress, defer and lazy load, adaptive images, or auto-preloading.

  7. Create awareness with everyone who touches a page about the importance of performance.

  8. Page complexity. In 1995, pages mostly had under three assets like HTML, an image and another image. In 2015, pages had 100 resources or more. That creates a ton of complexity and makes Web pages slow to load. Wonder how complex your pages are? Try WebPageTest.

  9. Synthetic monitoring. You need to train people who are not technical people on how to generate waterfalls and how to read a film strip.

  10. Web fonts are another big problem. People love custom fonts, and it's a huge boon for designers if they have custom fonts without killing performance. But a lot of sites do have fonts that make Web pages slow to load.

  11. Pop-ups. It's shocking how many aren't optimized and are blocking the page. The worst is when it blocks the rest of the page from rendering. Kill the pop-up. Options include consolidating resources, making sure style sheets are in the document head, optimizing Web fonts, optimizing scripts and monitoring all the time.

  12. As Nicholas C. Zakas said, enough with the JavaScript already. There are ways to use it intelligently, but it doesn't have to be used for everything.

  13. Third-party content can make up over 50% of page requests. The problem with that is latency. If the scripts aren't asynchronous they could be delaying the content of the rest of the page. Some of these files are really large scripts that make fourth- and fifth-party calls or can call from HTTPS to HTTP, and, suddenly, you have a massive loss of visibility.

  14. Spof-o-matic is a great tool to see if your third parties fail.

  15. Black holes in your third-party scripts? Make sure you defer scripts.

  16. Use asynchronous scripts.

  17. Know your scripts and performance penalties.

  18. Monitor constantly. Keep on learning.

  19. Read Barbara Bermes' book, Lean Websites.

Next Steps

The most annoying web performance problems

Alternate solutions for Web pages slow to load

A primer on application performance management

This was last published in March 2016

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