Steve Laliberte’s 14 Quick Tips for Improving Web Page Load Time

Broadband penetration throughout homes in the US is up to 94%. To have your website utilized by that 94% you will need to have a well designed web page. Steve Laliberte shares his tips on how to improve web page usability.

Executive Summary

  • Page load time has a significant impact on page views and revenue
  • Page views drive advertising impressions and click-through rates to your own membership, catalog and product marketing sites
  • While pages are growing more complex, there are many tricks, techniques and technologies for keeping load time fast

A major high technology publisher shared some data for their Mequoda Internet Hub that will allow them to generate $5.3 million in extra revenue during the next 12 months. An upgrade of their content delivery system decreased page load time by 17 percent and increased total page views by 12 percent. The financial implication:

Revenue Impact of Making Webpages Load Faster
Before After Change % Change
Average Load Time (secs) 87 72 -15 -17%
Annual Impressions (000s) 1,386,000 1,552,320 166,320 12%
Revenue per M $32 $32 $- 0%
Total Revenue $44,352,000 $49,674,240 $5,322,240 12%

Page load time is a key driver of revenue for all Mequoda Internet Hubs

According to Mequoda Daily contributing editor and iProduction Founder & CEO Steve Laliberte,”The key to figuring out why your pages are loading slowly is to figure out why your code is slow and then understanding the things you can fix to make it faster.”

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Steve’s 14 Tips for Improving Web Page Load Time

  1. Make your images smaller: buy a good graphic package like Photoshop that provides good image compression.
  2. Get rid of as many images as you can.
  3. Use system type rather than text type and use background table cell color rather than a reverse image to create a rollover effect.
  4. Reduce the overall size of the initial HTML page: hand-edit a page and you’ll cut down the number of HTML tags by 50 percent.
  5. Reduce the number of nested tables: reduce the number of nested tables by reading the code and if the nesting of tables is so bad that you can’t figure out where they start and end, you should fix it.
  6. Utilize style sheets: small effective style sheets and short style names and the page will load faster.
  7. Get rid of as many JavaScripts as you can: Javascript is a language that must be loaded, interpreted and executed. This takes extra time and is influenced by the speed and memory of the computer running the browser.
  8. Use PHP, or a server side language that resolves to HTML to get rid of the Javascript.
  9. Avoid serving ads from an external server: move the ad server so it figures out what ads to deliver and generate one line of HTML that names the ad and the entire relevant click-tracking information in the link.
  10. Be explicit in the width of tables and cells and the width and height of images. This means the browser will not have to wait until the entire image or contents of the table are loaded to begin displaying them and can leave room for a large image to come in later.
  11. Use “Valid” HTML or XHTML: Valid HTML of XHTML can process the HTML more efficiently.
  12. Avoid rollover menus: Rollover menus require JS and DHTML increase the size of the page and cause it to rollover. Take a look at the designs in the Mequoda Library and you’ll see other alternatives and that many sites have moved away from popup and rollover menus.
  13. Never, never, never put a Java applet in an HTML page.
  14. Minimize talking to the database: resolve all the database calls and just put the data in the HTML page. If you have to talk to the database, minimize selects and always select on indexed fields.

Suggested Discussion Questions:

  1. Who is responsible for page load time for your webpages?
  2. How do you monitor page load time for your webpages?
  3. Do you think your website could be faster?

Note: The details of the case have been modified to protect the identity of the publisher and program. If you’ve got a case study you’d like to share, send me drop me an email. Your privacy is my top concern.

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