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While browsing the Internet, customers value convenience and speed of obtaining desired information. If our website (being a kind of business card) loads too slowly, it puts off customers right from the start. Contrary to a popular belief, the issue of speed has a great impact on customer satisfaction and sales efficiency.
Based on our experience, here are the main reasons for a slow website:
- Too slow or too heavily loaded server.
If efficiency of your server is not sufficient, it is not able to quickly generate and serve an HTML file, that is the basis of every web page. Too little RAM or too slow CPU makes loading and executing files delayed
Even the fastest CPU can not do it’s job, barren the quick access to data stored on disk. What’s important here is the amount of memory available, in relation to files and database sizes.
Memory matters, because even without advanced caching mechanisms, the operating system itself knows, that it does not need to read the same data multiple times… it can use memory, if it is not filled with data.
- Programmer errors.
Even the fastest computer cannot work optimally, if it must execute a lengthy and costly program. Mistakes such as a lack of database index may be relatively easy to solve… while an error in web shop or WordPress plugin might require a little more work to do. In any case, information are obtained with sub-optimal efficiency. Inefficiency not only slows down the page load, but also limits the number of users that may simultaneously use our web page.
- Old version of script or server software.
There are significant performance differences between efficiency of various PHP versions, i.e. PHP 7 is more or less two times faster than PHP 5.6. Even between PHP 5.6 and PHP 5.4 there is a small, but significant performance difference. Modern versions of software usually are faster and utilize less memory, sometimes there are also safer.
If your webpage loads up slowly, it is wise to ask your administrator about availability of newer server software version. It might turn out that the page requires a big reconstruction, i.e. mayor version upgrade, but usually the results are worthy the time and inconvenience spent.
- Low quality plugins and templates.
Sometimes free plugins or templates contain small errors, or even parasitic instructions, such as DDoS attacks. Or they can simply refer to external resources with slow connection speeds.
- Momentary overload.
There’s a possibility that your website becomes so successful, that it suddenly starts working too slowly. If the problem is incidental, a free CDN service, such as CloudFlare, might be sufficient to solve the problem. If it happens often, and the webpage is profitable – maybe it’s worth investing more in a dedicated server and adequate IT personnel?
- Too economical approach to a website.
Often a company wants to save on hosting and service costs. It might be that original version of script was written by one company, and then many people modify the script, breeding malfunctions, and making the program working badly, requiring frequent manual interventions.
Sometimes it’s worth to approach the problem systematically, pay a little more but regain control over your webpage… give a specialist some time to pay attention to the whole solution, apply a VCS, i.e. Git (which is not always a fast and easy task), copy and test the software with databases on his or her own computer, get to know the system, and refactor the worst fragments of a program.
- Exotic software.
There are many webpage software solutions. Even in PHP only, we have WordPress, OpenCart, Magento, Prestashop, Symfony, Laravel, Yii, CodeIgniter, Kohana, and sometimes totally original solutions. With so many possibilities it might be difficult to quickly analyse the solution without getting to know the framework used.
Even with one system there are surprises, that’s why it’s always advised for a customer to aid technicans in solving the problems. You know your business best and you know your goals best.
You are also advised to be elastic and open for IT person’s proposals. An experienced programmer or project manager knows, what is quite easy to build, and what actions are reinventing the wheel.