Causes of a slow website + how to fix them

Causes of a slow website + how to fix them 

8 MINS
Diana Alcanzar

You probably have encountered a slow website a lot of times when accessing a page. It gets frustrating as you wait for it to load. Eventually, you close the tab as you’ve been waiting for what seemed like forever. If you have a website, this can mean bad news because you’re not getting conversions. 

Slow website speed is more than just an annoyance—it’s a barrier to your site’s success. Pages that load in five seconds increase their bounce rates to 38%.  

A sluggish website can be a critical factor that drives your potential customers away. In this article, let’s explore what a slow website means for your website performance. We will also look at what causes a slow website and how to remedy them. 

7 common causes of a slow website 

Several factors contribute to a website’s sluggishness. Sluggishness often arises from how your website is built and maintained. Identifying these common issues is the first step toward a faster, more efficient site. These are the typical factors that lead to a slow website: 

  • Large image file sizes. High-resolution images can significantly enhance the visual appeal of your website. However, they can also be a major culprit in slowing down your site as they require more time to load. 
  • Unoptimized code. Bloated or inefficient code can drastically affect your website’s loading time. This includes excessive HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Sometimes, leftover code from old website features or poorly optimized scripts can contribute to slow performance. 
  • Excessive use of plug-ins. Plugins add functionality to your website. Yet, overloading your site with too many plugins can lead to conflicts and resource-heavy operations. This can slow down your site. Each plugin, especially if not well-coded, can add additional load time to your website. 
  • Lack of caching. Caching is a technology that allows visitors to store certain parts of your website on their local computer. This reduces the load on your server and speeds up access for returning visitors. Not using caching, or not using it effectively, can result in slower website speeds. 
  • Inadequate hosting solutions. The hosting service you choose plays a significant role in your website’s performance. For example, shared hosting might not offer enough resources. This can lead to slower load times if your site gets a lot of traffic. 
  • Unoptimized database queries. Complex or unoptimized queries can slow down your website. This is especially true for sites that rely heavily on database interactions. For example, your eCommerce site. 
  • External embedded media. Relying on external resources like videos or infographics hosted on other servers can slow down your page loading times. Your site has to fetch these resources from external sources. 

Tools to help diagnose a slow website 

Fortunately, there are various tools and methods that can help you pinpoint specific issues impacting website speed. Use these diagnostic tools to understand what’s holding your site back.  

  • Google PageSpeed Insights. This is a free tool from Google. It analyzes the content of a web page and generates suggestions to make the page faster. It provides a score for your website’s speed and offers both desktop and mobile recommendations for improvements. 
  • GTmetrix. GTmetrix goes beyond just measuring the speed of your site. It provides insights into why your site is slow, offers performance scores, and gives actionable recommendations on how to optimize it. This tool uses a combination of Google PageSpeed Insights and YSlow to grade your site’s performance and provide suggestions. 
  • WebPageTest. This tool provides more advanced testing. It includes testing from different locations around the world, various browser types, and different devices. It provides detailed insights such as load time breakdowns and potential bottlenecks. 
  • Pingdom Website Speed Test. Pingdom offers a straightforward approach to testing website speed. It analyzes all parts of a web page and then breaks down the load performance for each element, which helps in identifying specific slow-loading components. 
  • Lighthouse. Lighthouse is an open-source, automated tool developed by Google. It runs a series of audits against the page. Not only it checks the website’s performance but also the accessibility, SEO, and more of web pages. 
  • Chrome DevTools. For those who prefer a hands-on approach, Chrome DevTools provides a suite of web development tools. They are built directly into the Google Chrome browser. It allows you to audit page performance in real time and understand how your website behaves under various conditions. 

How to fix your slow website 

After diagnosing the root causes of your website’s slow performance, the next step is implementing these effective solutions to boost its speed. This section will guide you through practical and proven strategies to optimize your website. Doing so will ensure a faster, more efficient user experience. 

Step 1: Minimize redirects 

Every time a page redirects to another, it triggers an additional HTTP request. This causes a delay in the page rendering process. This not only slows down the user experience but can also affect your site’s SEO performance. To enhance site load times, it’s important to check your site for any unnecessary redirects.  

Whenever possible, eliminate them. Replace them with a straightforward path to the desired content. For unavoidable redirects, such as for old pages pointing to new ones, use them sparingly and efficiently.  

Step 2: Avoid unnecessary plug-ins 

Plug-ins have some benefits when working with certain types of content. However, they can also cause page crashes and security breaches. Plug-ins can pile up when you upgrade to new plug-ins and don’t remove the old ones. Regularly go through your website to clean up inactive plug-ins and remove those you don’t need. 

Step 3: Reformat and compress images 

When you reduce the file size of an image, you reduce the time it takes to download that image. This also increases the number of images that can be cached. (Don’t worry! This won’t affect image quality). This is especially important for eCommerce sites, which include a lot of images. 

Step 4: Choose the right web host 

You need a reliable web host that can handle the size and contents of your eCommerce site while also providing adequate load times. If you signed up for shared hosting when you first launched your eCommerce site and your site has grown since then, you may need a different solution. Talk to your web host about solutions that can help with your site loading speed. 

Step 5: Leverage caching for faster load times 

Caching involves storing copies of files, such as images and scripts, in a temporary location. This allows them to be quickly retrieved on the next visit. When users access your website, these elements are downloaded and stored in their browser’s cache. This ensures faster load times during future visits. This is especially beneficial for repeat visitors. Most of the website content can be loaded from this local cache, significantly reducing the load time. 

Step 6: Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) 

A CDN is a network of servers distributed across various geographical locations. They’re designed to deliver web content more efficiently to users around the world. When a user accesses your website, the CDN redirects them to the nearest server. This reduces the distance data travels, decreasing load times and improving your site’s speed. Additionally, CDNs can handle high traffic and protect against DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service Attack), ensuring your website remains stable and accessible during traffic spikes. 

Step 7: Improve your website’s structure and code 

Streamlining HTML, CSS, and JavaScript can reduce file sizes and minimize the complexity of your web pages. This leads to faster loading times. Simplifying code and merging multiple scripts into single files can minimize the number of HTTP requests your browser needs to make. This speeds up your website more. The efficient use of CSS and JavaScript can also prevent render-blocking. Browsers have to wait for these files to load before displaying the page. These optimizations contribute to a smoother, faster user experience and are beneficial for SEO. 

Why should I make my eCommerce website faster? 

Improved user experience 

Website speed directly impacts user experience. Fast-loading pages ensure that visitors can quickly browse through products. They also can view images and complete transactions without frustration. A seamless and efficient user experience increases customer satisfaction. It also reduces bounce rates, leading to higher conversion rates. 

Enhanced search engine optimization (SEO) Performance 

Search engines like Google consider website speed as a ranking factor. Faster websites are more likely to appear higher in search results. This increases your visibility and organic traffic. Improved rankings can lead to more exposure, attracting a larger audience to your eCommerce site. 

Faster websites tend to have lower bounce rates. They also have higher average session durations and increased engagement metrics. These benefits positively impact SEO performance. A fast eCommerce website can help improve organic visibility and drive more targeted traffic to your online store. 

Increased sales and revenue 

A fast eCommerce website contributes to higher sales and revenue. Quick-loading pages reduce the likelihood of visitors abandoning their shopping carts due to slow load times. This, in turn, improves your site’s conversion rates, encourages repeat purchases, and boosts customer loyalty. 

Competitive advantage 

A fast website can set your business apart from competitors. Customers appreciate and gravitate towards websites that provide fast and efficient experiences. By prioritizing site speed, you can gain a competitive edge. You can also attract more customers and foster loyalty.  

Keeping your website fast: Ongoing speed checks and maintenance 

It’s important to routinely check your website’s performance using the tools mentioned previously. This will help you identify any issues that could slow down your site. Regular audits help spot problems like bloated images, unoptimized code, or excessive server load. They help catch these issues before they affect user experience.  

Additionally, staying up to date with the latest web technologies and updates is key to maintaining optimal speed. This includes new versions of CMS, plugins, and web standards. Regular maintenance keeps your website running smoothly and up to date with the latest speed-boosting technologies. This ensures it’s always fast and responsive. 

Ensure a fast-loading website today 

A fast website is key to happy users and conversions. If your website is slow, you’re hurting your business and burying your site in the digital nowhere. That’s why it’s entirely crucial to adopt our best practices and tips in this article to ensure an efficient, speedy, and responsive website for your users. By implementing these practices, you can transform your website into a powerful tool. It will captivate and convert, securing a strong, competitive online presence. 

  • Diana Alcanzar

    Diana is a Technical Writer at Web.com. She's dedicated to creating compelling and impactful web content that empowers online businesses from around the world. Outside work, she enjoys trying out new foods and visiting different places. She's always eager to experience something fresh and exciting.

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