One of the worst things a visitor can encounter on your website is… a slow loading webpage.
It may not seem like much of a catastrophe, but from the website visitor’s perspective: they’ve clicked on a link, they’re ready to view or learn or take action on something (yay!), and—they can’t easily do that.
It’s a good idea to speed up your website’s page load time for several reasons:
slower loading times detract from your user experience, and some users may even leave your site before finding or accessing the content they were there for
faster loading pages improve your website’s SEO (page load time is an increasingly important element in search engine ranking, as a larger number of searches are performed on mobile devices, which are more prone to slower page loading in general)
Because it’s so important to optimize your Squarespace website’s page loading speed, we’re sharing five simple ways to keep things speedy (and, this list also doubles as five things to look into if you have a slow loading page or site):
1. Keep your page size under 5 mb
We’ve shared this before as one of our tips for mobile-friendly web design (it’s particularly important for mobile users, as page loading speed is typically slower on mobile devices than on desktop).
When a user visits your webpage, their computer (or mobile device) attempts to download all of the page’s content. If your webpage is content-heavy, this can result in longer load times.
To increase your page load speed, aim to keep the content of each page under 5 MB. (No idea what your page size is? Here’s Squarespace’s guide on how to check your page content size.)
If you find that you need to reduce your page size, here are a few tips for reducing content for faster loading:
Reduce image size: Aim to keep images under 500 KB each (this should be doable while still maintaining the optimum width of about 1500-2000px for full-width images). In general, .jpg images have a smaller file size than .png. You can resize images on your computer or with an image compressor like JPEGmini.
Reduce embedded content: Embedded content, such as videos, can increase page load times. If you have a lot of embedded media on your website, try spreading it across multiple pages, rather than housing it all on one page (more tips on this below!).
Reduce gallery size: Keep photo galleries under 50 images each. If you need larger galleries, simply link to them across different pages.
2. Spread content across multiple pages
If you’ve reduced your image file size as much as you can and your page is still content-heavy, it may be a good idea to spread your content across multiple pages.
A good example of this is wedding photography: A wedding photographer may have a huge amount of high-resolution images (aka a very content-heavy site), but by strategically distributing this content on different pages across the site, overall page speed can be improved.
Here’s how the wedding photographer could break out different layers of content into different pages:
Homepage: one gallery with photo highlights + links to separate “Weddings,” “Engagements,” and “Maternity” category pages
Category pages: summary blocks with one thumbnail image representing each specific gallery within that category
Gallery pages: specific galleries of < 50 images each (for example, a specific wedding or engagement shoot)
3. Use blog post excerpts
Structuring your blog page(s) to include blog post excerpts, rather than full blog posts helps the page load faster, as each visit is not trying to instantly pull up all the blog content you’ve ever published into an endless scroll.
(Blog post excerpts also happen to be one of the top five things we recommend should be included in every blog post.)
If you’re using your Squarespace website’s native blog page, this is as easy as:
ensuring each blog post includes an excerpt
selecting “Excerpt” under Blog Settings > Advanced > Post Display
If you organize your blog content with custom summary blocks, full-loading blog posts are not a problem, as your summary blocks will only show the title, thumbnail image, post excerpt and metadata (or any combination thereof that you choose).
4. Check your custom code
Adding custom code to your website is a great way to customize and enhance your overall web design, but it’s important to be aware of how it affects your website performance. Some custom code (such as third-party embed code, code injections and custom CSS) may cause your website to load more slowly.
This doesn’t mean that you need to avoid all custom code. We’re big fans of custom CSS and even recommend certain third-party code for additional functionality (like using MemberSpace to create membership-protected pages and content.)
But if you find that a webpage (or your entire site) is loading slowly, it’s a good idea to look into how any custom code may be impacting it. Here’s how to check it out:
Copy/paste your custom code into a text document or other safe place you’ll be able to retrieve it from later (don’t want to lose it!)
Delete the custom code from your website
Re-load your website and check page load speed
If you find that the page load speed is about the same, you can re-add your code and know that it’s not slowing your site down.
If you find that your page load speed increases considerably without the custom code, you’ll need to assess whether that code necessary to use and, if so, how it could be adjusted to improve your page or site loading speed. (Unfortunately, we can’t offer a one-size-fits-all solution for this, as there’s such a wide variety of custom code—but feel free to reach out if you have any questions.)
5. Assess your page redirects
URL redirects can slow down page loading speed, as visitors must first jump to different URLs before content can be downloaded from the page.
If you’re using page redirects on your website, check your URL mappings (Settings > Advanced > URL Mappings) to assess whether they’re simple and streamlined. An example of a simple redirect is one page redirecting to another page, such as fivedesign.co/mobile-friendly redirecting to fivedesign.co/blog/how-to-make-your-website-mobile-friendly.
If you find that a slow-loading page has multiple layers of redirects being applied to it, simplifying your redirect structure can help speed up the page load speed.
And, sometimes it’s not your fault!
Very rarely, a site loading problem is actually due to a system-wide issue. You can check the current system status on Squarespace’s status page.
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