How to Speed Up Your Website

Discover the importance of website speed, learn how to test it, and master practical strategies for improvement. Experience the benefits of superior user experience and improved SEO today.

How to Speed Up Your Website


Welcome to this comprehensive guide, tailored to help you, as a beginner, navigate through the seemingly complex realm of website speed. If you've ever found yourself marvelling at the swift response of some websites and becoming exasperated with the sluggish pace of others, you've experienced the significant role that website speed plays in user experience.

But website speed is not merely about fast loading times and seamless navigation. It's the unsung hero of successful websites, the cog in the machine that can significantly influence how visitors perceive your website, engage with its content, and ultimately, make decisions that can impact your business outcomes. A second's delay can be the deciding factor between a user staying on your website or bouncing off to a competitor's site. In an age where digital impatience is common, speed is truly of the essence.

As we navigate through this guide, we will shed light on the importance of website speed, dissect the factors that influence it, and delve into how to effectively measure it. More importantly, we will journey through practical, step-by-step techniques on how to optimise your website speed, including reducing file size, optimising images, leveraging a Content Delivery Network (CDN), and enabling caching.

Even if you're new to this domain, worry not! This guide is designed with you in mind, adopting a warm and helpful tone to ensure you can implement these steps independently. Let's embark on this exciting journey together, towards creating a swift and seamless digital experience for your website visitors.

The Importance of Website Speed

Why Website Speed Matters

In our digital world, where information is available at our fingertips and expectations are sky-high, the speed of your website can have a profound impact. But why does it matter so much?

How you're gonna be feeling if your website is super slow to load.

User Experience

At the heart of it all is the user experience. As a website owner, you want your visitors to enjoy their time on your site. This enjoyment is directly linked to how quickly they can access the information they need. With a dwindling attention span, people want to access information in the quickest amount of time. When pages load swiftly, visitors can navigate your site easily and seamlessly, which leads to a positive user experience.

Imagine you're a visitor looking for a specific piece of information or wanting to buy a product. You click on a website, but the page seems to take forever to load. What would you do? Most likely, you'd leave and find a faster site. It's simple: Fast websites are user-friendly websites.

If you optimise your SEO, you're more likely to make your website visible on Google. So when someone searches on their browser, your website will come up in their search results.

SEO and Visibility

Website speed also plays a vital role in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Search engines, such as Google, aim to provide the best possible results for their users. Part of this involves ranking faster websites higher in the search results. Google even considers website speed as a ranking factor for both desktop and mobile searches.

Why? Because a faster site typically provides a better user experience, and search engines want to direct their users to high-quality, user-friendly websites. The faster your website, the better your chances of ranking higher, being more visible, and attracting more organic traffic.

The Consequences of a Slow Website

As we've mentioned a fast website can bring benefits, but a slow website can lead to numerous challenges and potential pitfalls.

Loss of Visitors and Potential Customers

A slow website often leads to a poor user experience, which will ultimately lead to people leaving your website. If your website takes too long to load or loads only certain elements like text but not images, any visitors you have are most likely to leave - a behaviour known as a "bounce." A high bounce rate indicates that many visitors are leaving your website quickly, which can translate into lost potential customers.

Trust us, you're going to be so upset if you loses sales, or leads, or conversions just because your website is slow. Even if you had the best product in the world, you'll never make any sales if no one can load your website properly.

Reduced Conversion Rates

Research shows that slow-loading websites also have lower conversion rates. Conversion rates refer to the percentage of visitors who complete a desired action on your site, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter. If your site is slow, visitors may become frustrated and leave before completing these actions, leading to reduced conversion rates.

Negative Impact on SEO

A slow website won't just annoy your visitors. It can also harm your SEO efforts, leading to lower search engine rankings. As mentioned earlier, search engines factor in website speed when determining rankings. A slower site can lead to a drop in your search engine visibility, which can result in less organic traffic.

In conclusion, website speed is not just a technical concern. It's a crucial factor that impacts user experience, SEO, and your business outcomes. By recognising the importance of website speed, you can take the first step towards improving it - and reaping the benefits that come with a faster, more user-friendly website.

Understanding Website Speed

Defining Website Speed

Website speed, at its core, refers to how quickly the content on your web pages loads. This isn't limited to the text on your site, but includes everything that makes up your web page, such as images, scripts, and style-sheets.

To understand website speed better, it's helpful to break it down into a few key metrics:

Time to First Byte (TTFB)

TTFB is the time taken from when a user or a browser sends a request to your server to when it receives the first byte of information. This metric is essential because it gives us the initial server response time, a crucial factor in the overall website speed. A low TTFB indicates a responsive server and a good start to fast page loading times.

Start Render Time

Start Render Time refers to when the first visual signs of loading appear on the screen. It doesn't mean your page is fully loaded, but it reassures the user that something is happening, and that the page is beginning to load.

Page Load Time

Page Load Time is the total time taken for a page to fully load and display all its content. This metric is often what we think of when we talk about 'website speed.' A lower page load time means a faster, more responsive site.

Factors Influencing Website Speed:

Server Response Time

Your website resides on a server, which is essentially a powerful computer that hosts your site. When a user attempts to visit your site, their browser sends a request to your server to fetch and display the site's content. If the server is slow to respond and process these requests, it can lead to longer load times.

Your server needs to be reliable because there are many aspects of your website that it manages. If you need more help with this - get in touch, we'd be happy to assist.

File Size and Format

The size and format of the files on your site significantly impact your site's speed. Larger files take longer to load, and certain file formats load slower than others. For instance, bulky, high-resolution images can drastically slow down a webpage. Hence, optimising file sizes and formats is key to improving website speed.

Website Code

The code behind your website also influences its speed. If your website's code is complex or poorly optimised, it could take longer for a browser to read and render your website, leading to slower load times. This includes your HTML, CSS (which styles your pages), and JavaScript (which adds interactivity).

User's Internet Connection Speed

Finally, the speed of your user's internet connection also affects how quickly they can load your content. While you can't control this factor, it's worth considering, especially if your main target audience is based in a region with generally slower internet speeds.

In summary, understanding these factors is an important step in speeding up your website. By knowing what affects website speed, you can target these areas when it comes to optimising your own site.

Testing Your Website Speed

Introduction to Website Speed Testing Tools

Before we can improve your website speed, we first need to understand where we're starting from. To do this, we'll turn to a variety of reliable tools built specifically for measuring website speed. Here are a few of the most popular ones:

Google PageSpeed Insights

PageSpeed Insights is a tool provided by Google that analyses the content of a web page and then generates suggestions to make that page faster. This tool provides a wealth of information, including your page load time and suggestions for improvement. Given that it's from Google, PageSpeed Insights aligns closely with the factors Google considers in its search rankings.

Using the Google PageSpeed Insights will give you a good idea of how you'll rank on Google. Simply put, fast, efficient websites will always rank higher than their slower competitors, so you're gonna want to make sure your website is efficient and effective.


Pingdom is a paid tool (with a free trial) that allows you to test the load time of your web page, analyse it and find bottlenecks. It provides detailed information on your page size, load time, and performance grades for specific factors.


GTmetrix is another fantastic tool that not only gives you the load time of your website but also detailed recommendations on how to improve it. GTmetrix's report is quite comprehensive and provides information about different timings, such as TTFB and start render time.

Our fav website speed tester. GTMetrix.

How to Use These Tools Effectively

While these tools can provide a wealth of information, knowing how to use them effectively is crucial. Here's a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Enter Your URL

In each of these tools, you'll start by entering the URL of the page you want to test. This can be your home page, but you might also want to test other pages, particularly any that seem slow to you.

Step 2: Understand the Metrics

Each tool will provide a variety of metrics. As we discussed earlier, these might include TTFB, start render time, and overall load time. Take some time to understand these metrics and what they mean for your website.

Step 3: Review the Recommendations

Each tool will also provide recommendations for improving your site's speed. These recommendations might include reducing file sizes, improving server response time, or optimising code. Review these recommendations carefully, as they'll form the basis of your website speed optimisation efforts.

Step 4: Monitor Changes Over Time

Finally, it's important to remember that improving website speed is an ongoing process. Regularly test your website speed and keep track of any changes over time. This can help you understand whether your optimisation efforts are working and where further improvements might be needed.

By understanding and effectively using these website speed testing tools, you can gather valuable insights and set the stage for effective website speed optimisation.

Practical Steps to Speed Up Your Website

Reducing File Size for Speed

One of the primary ways to improve your website speed is by reducing the size of your website files. The smaller your files, the faster they can be downloaded and displayed. This primarily involves the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files that make up your website.

HTML Files

HTML files form the structure of your web pages. To optimise these files, you can remove any unnecessary code, comments, or whitespace. If your website is built with a CMS, there may be plugins available to help with this, such as the 'HTML Minify' plugin for WordPress.

Adjusting the CSS files on our ThinkStory website.

CSS Files

CSS files style your web pages. These files can often contain unused or duplicate styles that can be removed. Tools such as 'UnCSS' can help you identify and remove unused CSS. Additionally, like HTML, CSS files can be minified to remove unnecessary whitespace and comments.

JavaScript Files

JavaScript files add functionality to your web pages. These files can often be optimised by removing unused code, minifying the file, and delaying the loading of JavaScript until other content has loaded (a process known as 'deferred loading').

Optimising Images for Better Performance

Images often make up the bulk of a web page's size. By optimising your images, you can drastically reduce your page load time. Here's how:

Resizing Images

Start by ensuring your images are no larger than they need to be. An image should be only as large as it appears on your site. For instance, if an image appears on your site at a maximum width of 600 pixels, there's no need for that image to be any larger than 600 pixels wide.

We love JPEGmini Pro for reducing the file size of our images and files for our site, without destroying the overall quality.

Selecting the Right Format

Different image formats have different strengths. JPEGs are generally best for photographs, while PNGs are better for images with few colours or where transparency is needed. In recent years, newer formats like WebP offer even better compression while maintaining image quality and should be considered if your audience uses browsers that support this format.

Compressing Images

Once your images are the correct size and format, you can compress them to reduce their file size further. Tools like 'TinyPNG' or 'CompressJPEG' can help with this, reducing file size without a noticeable reduction in quality.

Leveraging a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A CDN is a network of servers located all over the world. When you use a CDN, your website is stored on all of these servers, not just one. When a user visits your site, they are served content from the server closest to them, reducing the amount of time it takes for the data to reach them and thus increasing website speed.

Many web hosts offer CDN services as part of their hosting packages. Implementing a CDN can typically be done through your web host's control panel. If a CDN isn't available through your web host, third-party services like Cloudflare offer CDN services that can be integrated with your site.

Cloudflare is widely used globally, so it also ensures that your website will be accessible across the world. It's one of our website ESSENTIALS!

Enabling Caching to Improve Load Time

Caching involves storing copies of your website files in a user's browser or on a server. When a user revisits your site, these cached files can be loaded, which is faster than downloading them again.

Caching can often be enabled through your web host's control panel. Additionally, if your website uses a CMS like WordPress, there are caching plugins available, such as 'W3 Total Cache' or 'WP Super Cache'.

By implementing these practical steps, you can significantly speed up your website, leading to a better user experience and improved SEO rankings.

Remember to retest your website speed after making all these changes so you can track your progress.


Website speed is a cornerstone of a great online experience and can drastically affect how your website ranks on search engines. In today's fast-paced digital world, users' patience for slow-loading websites is steadily diminishing. Neglecting your website's speed could lead to a decline in user satisfaction, reduced traffic, and ultimately, a lower SEO ranking.

Throughout this article, we've explored the importance of website speed, the factors influencing it, how to test it, and, most importantly, practical steps you can take to speed up your website. From reducing the size of your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files, optimising your images, utilising a Content Delivery Network (CDN), and enabling caching, you're now equipped with actionable measures to enhance your website's speed.

However, remember that enhancing website speed is an ongoing process. Regular testing and adjustments are necessary to maintain and improve performance. It's crucial to keep an eye on your metrics, adapt, and innovate as the digital landscape evolves.

If you're struggling with any aspect of this, don't be disheartened. Our team at ThinkStory is here to support you. Feel free to get in touch for a chat about how we can help you create a faster, more efficient, and ultimately, more successful website.

Take the first step towards a faster website today, because every second counts.

Written by
Matt Masson
Matt Masson is a seasoned business director with over 12 years of experience in the creative industry. He has a strong background in marketing and media production, and is passionate about crafting compelling stories that resonate with audiences. Matt is particularly interested in customer experience and enjoys connecting with people. He is always eager to learn and grow both personally and professionally.