How to Reduce Load Time for Your Educational Website (Universities & Educational Institutions)

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Whether it is a college, school or any educational institute, you should have a website that is quick, user-friendly and works on all types of platforms and browsers. When a student wants to enroll for any course or a person wants to find more information about your institute, they will certainly go through your website. If your website does not have a good user experience, they may even perceive that the quality of the education you provide may not be good enough as well. Eventually, you may end up losing out on a prospect. Also, if several students visit your website at the same time to apply or view their results, then it should not slow down. Your web design should be such that your website works properly in every situation. If you have been facing a problem of having a slow load time for your educational website, then here are some tips to help you speed up your website.

Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/

Enable Compression

If you create high-quality content, then you are bound to have large webpages. As a result, your webpage will take time to load. To boost the speed for such large webpages, you should enable compression which is a technique to zip them. Just like the way you compress files on the hard disk to use less space, this same concept can be used for websites too. When you enable compression, it reduces the bandwidth of your webpages and so, the HTTP response reduces. You can use Gzip software to compress files in Gzip format before they are sent for download. Compressing can significantly reduce a high percentage of your data from HTML and CSS, thus allowing your visitors to get access to the information quickly. How you enable compression will be based on your web server and its setting as compression is a server setting. You will have to add some code to your root .htaccess file to begin with Gzip compression. Consult a web developer to help you with this process.

Enable Browser Caching

If you have a WordPress website, the HTML version of your educational website gets served to the browsers. Your website will take time to load as every time a user sends a request to visit your educational website, the process will take place again. To prevent this from happening, you can save a complete HTML copy of your website in advance. The copy can then be immediately presented to your visitors. This process is known as caching. With the help of some plugins such as WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache, you can easily enable browser caching for your website. By enabling browser caching, you can temporarily store some data on your visitors’ computer and this reduces the load time when they visit your webpage the next time. For an educational website, you will have the same users visiting your website again and again for different purposes like looking for information about your institution, applying for courses, etc. If your website has a slow load time whenever a user visits your website, he will switch over to another website that provides him with a better user experience. So, you may end up losing out on a potential student for your institute.

The amount of time you can store the data on a user’s computer depends on their browser configuration and the server-side cache settings. To enable browser caching on your server, either contact your hosting partner or use Apache CachingIIS Caching or Nginx Caching.

Optimize Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) Delivery

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org

The longer your CSS takes time to download, the longer your visitors will have to wait for the website to load. CSS loads before people can see anything on your website. Therefore, you should optimize them so that users can access your website quickly. At times, you may be using some CSS files that you do not use. Try getting rid of these useless CSS files. The next step is to minimize your CSS files. If there are any extra spaces in them, the file size will only increase. Hence, minimize your CSS by removing any unwanted spaces from your code. Check whether your Content Management System (CMS) minimizes your CSS or you need to do it on your own. If you use WordPress, then there is no such default option. Nevertheless, you can use free online service tools to minimize your files like CSS CompressorCSS Minifier, etc. To minimize your CSS, you need to copy and paste your CSS code on the Compressor service websites and click on the “compress” or “minify” option. You will get your compressed CSS code immediately.

CSS is known to hold the style requirements for your webpage and so, this information can be collected in two ways. You can do this by external file which loads even before your webpage renders or inline wherein the information is inserted in the HTML document. It is recommended that you use external style sheet so that it reduces the size of your code and create fewer duplications as compared to inline.

Optimize Images

If you want to attract students to your educational institute, you may have several pictures. This will include pictures of events, campus, alumni, professors, etc. Visuals can certainly have a positive impact in influencing prospects but you need to ensure that they do not affect the website’s load time. When it comes to images, you need to consider its size, format and the src attribute.

Source: https://pixabay.com

Size

There’s no surprise that oversized images will take longer time to load and hence, reduce your website speed. Keep your image size as small as possible but do not make the mistake of compromising on its quality. You can reduce the image size by cropping it to the exact size. For a webpage that accepts images up to 650 pixels wide, do not upload 1000 pixels wide image and set the width parameter to 650 pixels wide. Apart from slowing your website, your image may not appear clear. Instead, resize the image to the width defined by your webpage. Also, if your images contain any comments, then make sure you remove them before you upload.

Format

Ideally, your images should be in JPEG format but you can also consider PNG images. Avoid using BMPs or TIFFs.

Src Attribute

Src Attribute is concerned with getting the right code for your images. In HTML, your image code will be <img src=””>. If you do not have any source in the quotations or you have an empty image src codes, then the browser will send a request to the actual webpage or the directory of the webpage. As a result, you will see unwanted traffic to your servers and corrupt the data as well. This eventually reduces your website’s speed. Therefore, do not make the mistake of keeping empty image src codes.

Scale your images before you upload them. Some of them upload huge images and then scale them down with CSS. However, the browsers will still load them at the full image size. For example, if you upload an image that is 2000 x 2000 pixels, but you scaled it down to 200 x 200 pixels, still the browsers need to load ten times more than what is required. Therefore, fix your image by compressing before you upload them. You will find many free online tools to compress your images without affecting their quality.

These are some ways that will help you to speed up your website. Reducing your website’s load time will also help you boost your SEO rankings. Apart from following these tips, you can keep your scripts below the fold, minimize HTTP requests, reduce plugins, reduce server response time, reduce redirects, etc. If you need detailed information about these tips, contact an expert web designing firm to help you out.

Ali Salman is an online marketing strategist who have worked with Coca-Cola, Extreme Pita, Mucho Burrito, KIA, Honda and other Fortune 500 companies. Ali Salman now heads Rapid Boost Marketing - Canada's fastest growing search marketing agency. RBM clients include Fortune 500's and medium size businesses across North America. Ali as RBM CMO leads his team in building and managing quality, high-performing and cost-effective interactive campaigns and programs for our company's customers and partners. In his career, he has significantly improved campaign performance for large brands such as Government of Alberta, Liberal Party, Workopolis, Cathay Pacific, as well as medium to large retailers and high-tech B2B-enterprise niches. Ali and his team develop online promotional concepts that spark viral growth through search and social media for RBM clients, devising strategies that use search engines and more to reach key demographic segments in the ways they're most likely to be receptive. Ali Salman also oversees corporate marketing initiatives for Rapid Boost Marketing, including strategic communications counsel, public and analyst relations and client education programming.

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