The Fast and the Furious: 3 Easy Ways to Speed Up Your Website in Less than 10 Minutes

the fast and the furious 6

The Fast and the Furious 6 is out in theaters right now and man! It’s crazy! Everybody’s back from the other movies, they’ve got a tank, and Vin Diesel even got himself a car with a diesel engine in it. (Which is pretty much a Yo Dawg meme when you think about it.) And that got me to thinking about speed. It made me want to drive fast, eat fast, and make my website go fast. Like, fast and the furious, fast.

Then I came across this unbelievable story in a Moz webinar but was the story was actually first reported on by the New York Times in February 2012.

What the New York Times reported on was a Microsoft Research study that discovered the amount of extra time has to load before it starts getting on users nerves. That number, as it turns out, is quicker than the blink of an eye.

“Two hundred fifty milliseconds, either slower or faster, is close to the magic number now for competitive advantage on the Web,” said Harry Shum, a computer scientist and speed specialist at Microsoft according to an article in the New York Times.

This is pretty astonishing when you consider that it takes 400ms for the eye to blink. You don’t get a 3 count, you don’t get a heavy sigh, you don’t even get a full eye-blink. This provides a fresh perspective on the speed section of our Twitter Bootstrap vs. Foundation 4 comparison we wrote about a few weeks ago. In the comparison, we look at how Twitter Bootstrap uses jQuery and Foundation 4 uses Zepto when using javascript. ZURB, the fellas behind Foundation 4 went with Zepto because it had a smaller footprint and would load quicker. As a mobile-first platform, they thought this was the best way to go.

Personally, when I looked at the numbers – roughly 30k for jQuery and 10k for Zepto, it was hard to get worked up about that 20k difference because images routinely are many times that size. But according to this research, this could make a 250ms difference. Upon reflection, this 20k difference is a bigger deal than it first seems.

speed up website

It’s important to realize that this number is also contextual. What Microsoft did was purposefully introduce a 250ms delay into the pages the served from their website. From this, they gleaned that fewer users came back as a result. This would suggest that decreasing your website’s load times by 250 ms would result in an increase in return visits.

What would be awesome is if we had a few good, easy ideas that we could implement in less than 15 minutes that could achieve this result.

3 Easy Ways to Speed Up Your Website in Less than 10 Minutes

1. Put your code in the right place

CSS goes in the head, Javascript goes just before the closing body tag.

2. Use minified CSS and Javascript files

Minifed files are css or javascript files that have had all of their extra spaces and comments taken out of them. Minify your CSS easily with a site like cssminifier.com. For javascript files, use jscompress.com to easily create your minified code.

3. Cache your website

You’ve probably heard this one before, and that’s because it’s good advice. It’s like eating right and exercising. It’s not sexy advice, but it produces sexy results. If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, this is an easy thing to do. You can get a plugin like W3 Total Cache that will work like a charm. If that’s not an option for you, here’s a tutorial on caching that talks about how to write cache friendly code and how to implement caching on Apache and IIS servers. Though if you need to go to that step, you can effectively throw the 10-minute time limit out the window.

We could, of course, talk about image sizing, or adaptive techniques, or writing cleaner code, or considering what bells and whistles are really necessary on your page before you put them there, but all of those take longer to do that what’s proposed above. And what’s more, when what we’re trying to do is save 250 ms, less than the blink of an eye, small changes can have profound effects.

If you make the changes above, we’d love to know if you experienced any difference in your return visitor rate over the next month or so. If so, tell us in the comments!

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