Web pages should load fast. Period. It’s irritating for any reason to wait on a computer. As a web developer, so many of the factors that go into page loading speed are outside of our control. However, some of the biggest ones are fixable with a minimal amount of work. The effort isn’t really justified for every page, but high traffic pages (like the university homepage) are definitely worth it.
Formatting for speed
All zipped and ready
Zero is less than something
Of course downloading nothing is always faster. Usage stats show us that we have a high degree of returning visitors to our homepage. By setting some pretty aggressive cache headers, users only have to request new HTML. All of the images, stylesheets and scripts can be loaded from what they got on their last visit.
Cache headers are somewhat confusing and can have unintended side effects. Google has a great article on the relevant cache headers: http://code.google.com/speed/page-speed/docs/caching.html
Tools of the trade
Optimizing your site for loading speed can be a daunting task. There are a few tools that make this easier. My personal favorite is Google Page Speed (an addon for FireBug). In addition to a prioritized list of suggestions, several optimizations can be run within the tool itself such as image optmization and whitespace removal.
This is the second post in a series about the techniques used in the 2010 redesign of the Missouri State homepage. Other posts in the series:
- Celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) on May 19 - May 16, 2022
- New Content Management System Coming Soon - March 3, 2021
- Meet our newest team member: Valerie Cummings - October 20, 2020
- Graduate students: Share the stories of MSU - May 1, 2019
- New design for university websites - April 17, 2019
- Marketing and communications offices have new names - July 6, 2018
- Social Media Kit: Spring 2018 Public Affairs Conference - March 27, 2018
- Lessons learned from the Alumni Association and Bear Bulletin redesigns - March 2, 2018
- Be smart on social: You’re one of us - February 27, 2018
- Recap: Making Your Statement in a Digital World, Spring 2018 - February 26, 2018