It is easy to see how websites have changed over the last several years or even year. Websites provide much more information at the blink of an eye and provide much more of a dynamic user experience.
More and more emphasis has been placed on loading times or page speed times of websites. There are several common and free tools available for you to test your own website. Those are YSlow and Google Page Speed. There are even several websites out there that will test your website and provide you with a report.
There are several things to consider when using one of these websites or tools.
The first is, none of these tools are going to be consistent with each other in terms of the information they provide to you about your website. One tool will tell you you have a score of 95/100 and the next tool will tell you you have a score of 82/100.
The second and biggest concern with using these tools is being able to change your website to comply with the suggestions they give you. Using YSlow as an example, it will often tell you you are making too many HTTP requests, to use a CDN and to utilize gzip.
Using a CDN and gzip can be pretty straightforward depending on if you are actually using a CDN, the configurability of that CDN and/or your web host. A recent job was posted on a job board where the site owner wanted a website developer to make his website comply with every suggestion YSlow spit out. One of the suggestions YSlow made was to use sprites for all images. I’m sure as any designer can attest, this is easier said than done. More so, you don’t use sprites for things like inserted images, featured post images on WordPress, etc. So although YSlow makes that suggestion and gives you a lower grade if you don’t comply with it, it’s not always possible to comply with every suggestion that is made to you.
We recently did some page speed optimization for a client of ours. Our client went into this with the mindset of perfection is not always possible, which was great for us. We were able to take his website from a grade of D to a B. In reality, the website would probably have received a grade of A. We just could not simply comply with all the suggestions that were given to us, mainly using sprites.
This client originally used Rack Space as a CDN. Although we received a higher grade for using the CDN, we were then given a lower grade because gzip and expires headers were not set.
We can only set a TTL of 72 hours on Rack Space which is a very short period of time indeed. Apparently, setting a longer capital TTL is in the works but not available via their control panel.
While doing some research for a more viable CDN, we came across Max CDN. The great thing about Max CDN is we were able to set a capital TTL of up to a year and enable gzip within all of three clicks. This simple change of the CDN’s took our Google page speed score from 80/100 to 90/100.
Not only was our client happy with the end result, we were as well as it made complying with overall suggestions made by optimization tools that much easier.
If you’re looking for a CDN we would highly suggest taking a look at Max CDN for the amount of configurability they offer their clients.
If you’re looking at having some website optimization done on your website, feel free to contact us. We’d be more than happy to take a look at your site and give you a realistic overview of what can be done with your website in terms of improving page speed.