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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

W3 Speed Limits

            Despite Jeremy Clarkson’s insistence of “Power!” those of us making websites can’t count on users having the latest and greatest hardware. Mobile browsing is also up over data connections that don’t measure up to the speeds of Google Fiber. So, we have to be the ones to check the speed limit on our websites.
            If we can’t increase power, then we have to copy from The Martian and shed weight. Images, videos, and other multimedia are popular on websites, as are all manner of widgets that take up processing power, meaning the webpage renders more slowly. But we have to have some flash and style with our substance, so the trick then becomes knowing how much is too much.
            Enter website speed tests. Many websites will gladly test the loading time of your site, as well as give a breakdown as to what’s causing the slowdown. A quick search turns up dozens, but make sure to go with a free one such as or
            Run the test multiple times to get an average score. Most of the time you won’t be able to do much about things such as leveraging browser cache or combining javascript (we’re writers, not code monkeys [Okay, I’m a bit of a code monkey]). However, you can reduce your image and multimedia use. Scale back on the resolution of pictures on your site, and link them to full-size versions on a free imaging site. Put in small embeds of videos, or just link to youtube and skip the embedding. Change the number of posts displayed on your website at one time. Make use of a jump link to keep images and other media off the main page. Trim down the number of widgets or add-ons in the site.
            The goal is to keep the load time down. If it takes more than five seconds to load a page, your readers may become impatient, particularly on a mobile device. Plus, you don’t want to eat too much into their data plans.

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