5 ways to speed up your websites and apps

Person holding up a watch
(Image credit: Photo by Saffu)

Agencies and website owners can be slow to adapt to changes in technology, often because the latest fad can fall out of favour as fast as it emerges. We have a tendency to rely on more tried-and-tested solutions, which aren’t always the fastest and therefore don’t always deliver the best user experience. So if you've ended up in a rut with your web design processes, here are some top web design tools and techniques that could help you speed up your sites and apps, and improve UX.

If you're starting a new website, you'll want to explore all your options. Maybe you need a website builder or web hosting service. Or perhaps you need new cloud storage? Our guides have you covered.

01. Use a JavaScript framework

Using a JavaScript framework is one way to improve the speed of your web apps. This approach has risen in popularity over the last few years in particular and wider industry support exists for most packages. Using a JavaScript framework will often enable you to build the site as a single-page application (SPA), which loads only the minimum content required to your browser. 

A word of caution: this will improve speed but (unless you're willing to add a lot of customisation and server work) isn't that SEO-friendly. So keep it to web apps rather than websites. 

02. Try progressive web apps

Progressive web apps (PWAs) adapt websites or web apps to make them functional offline when added to mobile home screens. They typically use web browser features to store data offline – perfect for patchy internet connections. If you want users to return to your application often, consider a PWA. You can prompt mobile users to add these sites to their home screens for quick access and immediate loading. 

03. Explore AMP

A Google-led working group released AMP in February 2016 to load pages submitted in the correct format instantly from Google’s global network. The technology, like Facebook’s Instant Articles, requires businesses to maintain additional codebases and gives access to fewer design features but offers better search engine visibility and usability. It’s particularly good for media producers with topical content. 

04. Consider a CDN

Content delivery networks (CDNs) aren’t new, but plenty of websites still don’t use them. CDNs let you move the job of delivering a website and its assets from the server itself to a global distribution network, which is faster. CDNs enable sites to run much quicker, as the user isn’t waiting for the end server to do all the work. They’re especially helpful for sites built for design over functionality.

05. Add a caching plugin

Caching plugins are offered with many CMSs, but are often ignored. WordPress, for example, offers many. Within the software, your server will store snapshots of pages rather than compiling a new page for every request. This means end users get the same speed impact as if you were serving them a static website. Businesses can couple caching with CDNs to improve site speed significantly.

This article was originally published in net, the world's best-selling magazine for web designers and developers. Buy issue 311 or subscribe.

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Aaron is the founding managing director of Impression, a multi-award-winning UK digital marketing agency.