web pages slow to load

Are Your Web Pages Slow to Load? 5 Reasons that Might be to Blame

Website Tips and Tricks

If you’ve ever observed a busy freeway system from the window of a high-rise or an airplane, you’ve probably noticed a certain chaotic order to it all.

But what happens when the chaos outweighs the order? Problems.

The internet is rather like that busy freeway system, but in high speed. With hundreds of requests zipping around the world, back and forth, to bring you images and text in a matter of seconds, chaos is bound to intervene.

With that chaos comes downtime, leaving web pages slow to load. And a slow site is an abandoned site.

All of the activity on the internet can render web pages slow to load and cost you thousands of visitors and conversions.

That’s a real problem and it’s to your benefit to get reliable website monitoring.

In the meanwhile, there are many reasons that you may find your web pages slow to load so we’ll take a look at five of those reasons.

1. Server performance and location

When someone clicks onto your website, it’s like they’re trying to turn on a light.

There’s an expectation that the light will come on immediately after the switch is flipped.

But if your server’s performance is poor, that “light” might take a while. It doesn’t even matter how quick and optimized everything else is. A slow server’s going to give you a slow start.

What’s happening with the flip of that switch is that your browser (Firefox, Safari, etc.) pings your server, asking for all the information and data so it can load up your website.

But if your server is feeling sluggish and not performing well, it’s going to take it’s time to respond.

Poor server performance can be most commonly traced down to your web host.

The cheaper web hosts usually give you a shared server. What that means is you’re sharing space and resources with any number of other websites.

Essentially, your site is standing in line with a slew of other sites, waiting its turn. So no wonder your web pages are slow to load.

Add to that the factor of your server location and things can get really dicey.

For instance, if someone on the other side of the world clicks on your website, they’re sending a message to the server asking it to load.

The information now has to travel all the way across the world to request access to your server. Then it has to travel all the way back to the other side of the world to show up on the screen.

We like to think that this all happens in “the cloud,” but the reality is that the data has to travel through cables and is then transmitted over satellites.

If the server is performing well, the extra distance won’t be nearly the challenge as it would be if it’s sluggish.

2. Extra large images

Back in the day of dial-up, a large image took forever to load.

Forever being several minutes.

With the advent of broadband, the definition of ‘forever’ changed considerably. Now it’s more like 5 seconds.

Still, that’s long enough for someone to bounce.

At any rate, if your site is chock full of huge images, they could be making your web pages slow to load.

Think of it this way.

If you order a burger and fries at a restaurant, the request goes to the kitchen, the two items are made and the server brings it to you. But add on a bunch of sides and special requests and it’s going to take longer to get your order. Plus, the server is going to have to carry a heavier load.

Same thing with your web server.

It has to carry every part of your website – content, text, and images – to your browser screen. Large images are the equivalent of that heavy tray of food. And if you have a lot of them, that’s a lot of heavy trays.

A large image is challenging, but the file format does make a difference. Stick with JPG, PNG, and GIF images because they load much more quickly.

Avoid the heavy formats like TIFF and BMP because, well, they’re heavy. And in this case, heavy means SLOW.

3. Lots of traffic

If you’re experiencing a lot of traffic, congratulations on your success!

But here’s the downside: it will eventually cause your website to slow down.

Your web server can only do so much. It’s the human equivalent of saying, “I’ve only got two hands!” And the more that is asked of it, the slower it’s going to be.

So then the harried web server has to call in extra help from the back. And soon enough, things are slowing down on the back end too.

Ah, success.

4. Network problems

If your web pages are slow to load, it may be due to your network connection being slow or intermittent.

You can troubleshoot this situation by trying to load your site using a proxy server or VPN.

Proxy servers use a third-party location to load your site. So if it’s a local network problem, the proxy server will usually bypass it. If the site still loads slowly, then you know you’ve got a network problem.

You may also need to test your local network/router, contact your internet service provider, wait until the network connection is resolved or go to the nearest coffeeshop and use their service.

Treat yourself to a mocha. It’s been a tough day.

5. Too many file requests and plugins

So we’ve covered the issue with large images.

But in this case, size isn’t everything. Big or small, you also need to consider to consider quantity.

Each small element on your site requires a different file request to load. So that means that every image, social sharing button, CSS file, and piece of Javascript is a new file request.

You may simply be asking too much of your server.

For instance, let’s just say that your website uses 40 file requests every time it loads up. Then 100 people come along and want to access your site all at once. If you’re doing the math, that’s 4,000 file requests in one second.

It’s unrealistic to expect a small server to perform quickly with that number of requests.

Plus, if you’re running WordPress, you’re probably backed by a whole team of behind-the-scenes plugins. And each of those equals its own file request.

If you’re running a lot of plugins, you need to ask yourself which ones you absolutely need. After all, there are only so many resources to serve up the files.

So if your web pages are slow to load, start by addressing these five possible reasons. The fix may be easier than you think.

Let us know what you do to optimize your webpages.