5 Website Speed Optimization Tips

Does your website load fast? A slow loading website can make a user decide to go somewhere else. Speed is important because slow websites can lose money and users. No one wants to wait until your website loads.

5 Website Speed Optimization Tips
Photo by Gerd Altmann

Why is your site slow?

Many factors could be slowing your site down. The common ones are:

  • Large image sizes
  • Large CSS files
  • Heavy use of JavaScript
  • Old legacy code
  • Too many plugins and/or widgets
  • Server Issues
  • Slow network connection especially on mobile

How slow is your website?

A website speed test can tell you how fast your site is. You can use tools like PageSpeed Insights by Google or Pingdom Website Speed Test. Both tools will give you insights into how slow your website is and what you can do to fix it.

When you get a report from these tools, you’ll see many metrics. Focus on these three metrics: Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay and Cumulative Layout Shift. Google calls them Core Web Vitals. Core Web Vitals measure the user experience — loading, interactivity and visual stability.

5 Website speed optimization tips to start with

What do you fix first? It depends. You’ll need to decide what affects the users the most.

1. Large image sizes

Large image sizes can drag down your website’s loading time. You can use a Website Image Analysis Tool to decide which images to handle first. Tools like ImageOptim can help to optimize your images for the web.

2. Large CSS files

CSS files get large over time. They can include leftover unused selectors, workarounds and duplicated code. To fix these problems, you need to refactor your CSS. Refactoring CSS is not an easy task but necessary one. Use this guide on how to refactor CSS without creating new problems.

3. Heavy use of JavaScript

Too many JavaScript files loading can slow your site down. Do you need all of them? Audit your JavaScript files to see if you still need them. Or use other techniques to limit their affect on the website.

4. Old legacy code

Code can get old and not for the better. Is your code using old code that has been depreciated? Look at your code to see if you can remove it. Or refactor it and make it better.

Are you using plugins that you no longer need or have newer versions? Make sure your plugins or widgets aren’t slowing your site down.

5. Server issues

Is you website still slow after fixing other web performance issues? If yes, then you need to look at your hosting server. Are you using a server that fits you needs? You may need to consider moving to a new host or paying a bit more for a premium service.

Read more about Optimizing Your Website Speed

Photo by Gerd Altmann

Writing Semantic HTML

What is semantic HTML?

Semantic HTML is using specific tags when writing HTML. These tags convey meaning about their intended purpose. Both humans and computers can understand the meaning of your code when you use them. Browsers, search engines and assistive technologies use these tags to create a better user experience.

Matrix Binary Code
Photo By PixxlTeufel on Pixabay

Why should I use it?

It makes your code easy to read. You’ll be able to scan quickly through the code to understand how it is structured. Semantic tags also make it faster to write code. You don’t have as many decisions to make when you use the semantic tags.

How to get started?

HTML5 introduced new tags – semantic tags. Tags like <header>, <main> and <footer>. With these tags, you create a web page structure that is readable to both search engines and people.

Basic HTML 5 Code

Your main content lives inside <main>. You can use tags like <p> and heading tags like <h1> to provide some structure. To provide further meaning to the content, use tags like <article> and <section>. The <article> tag contains content that can be removed and put on another page. You can use the <section> tag when you need to wrap groups of related content. Use the HTML semantics cheat sheet to learn when to use which tags for the right job.

What about the <div> tag?

HTML has non-semantic tags like <div>. Its generic nature allows you to define its purpose through code. You can use the <div> and <span> tags in your code. Use them to group elements that don’t have any specific meaning. When you need more specific meaning, choose semantic tags over non-semantic ones.

Find out more about Semantic HTML

Filling Up Empty States

What are empty states? These are spaces on your app or web page which can be empty or blank. Screens or panels where no data or content displays. Why? Your users haven’t entered anything or data can’t be displayed.

empty room with wall wall and plant
Photo by: Darkmoon_Art on Pixabay

You might be familiar with empty states. Some typical scenarios are:

  • When a search returns no results
  • You have downloaded a new app and haven’t entered any data or content
  • An error has occurred
  • When you have deleted all of your data

What can you do? You could leave it empty. Or display information to the user. What kind of information would you put here? You want to use this space to communicate the app’s status. Teach new users how to get started or discover new features.

Communicate status to the user

When you use an app, sometimes you may wonder if it is working. This can occur when you run a search and get no results back. Or an error has occurred.

Silver Sneaker Location Search Error

Teach users how to get started

A blank or empty space can be intimidating to first time users. Use the space to teach your users what to do next, you help them to get started using your BMI Setup Guide

Starter Content

Show your users how to create new content with examples. Use starter content to give them an idea on how to fill the space. If you sharing photos, you may put a couple of photos in to demonstrate how that works.

Todo App with Starter Content

Summary

Don’t leave your users guessing what the app is doing. By using empty states, you help your users to get started using your app quickly. Learn how it works and be confident they can get what they want to do done. Refer to Designing Empty Spaces in Complex Applications to learn more.

How to Deal With Developer Burnout

Everyone can feel tired, bored or exhausted from doing work. Why? Too busy. Your tasks are repetitive and unchallenging. Or you deal with people who drain you. You need to focus on things that you can control to help deal with developer burnout.

How to deal with burnout

Here’s a list of things to try:

  1. Take a day off and do nothing. Relax, sleep or go somewhere different.
  2. Change your sleep routine. It may need a bit of tweaking. You may need to change your nightly routine.
  3. Break a habit or pattern. Take a different route to work. Eat at a new place for lunch.
  4. Drink water. Stay hydrated during the day.
  5. Spend time in nature. Go for a walk in a garden or a park.
  6. Take regular breaks during the day. Get up walk around or stretch.
  7. Do something creative. Write. Photograph. Or make something not related to work.
  8. Move your body. Talk a walk. Do yoga or pilates. Anything that gets you to move.
  9. Listen to a new podcast. If you listen to programming podcast, choose one on a different topic. Try out something you don’t normally listen to.
  10. Learn something new. Read a book or watch a video. Try a new programming language or tool.
  11. Say No to additional tasks at work. See if you can arrange to do them at a later date.
  12. Change your coding environment. Use a different text editor. Or go outside and code.

You want to try these things to avoid developer burnout and before deciding to quit your job. Small changes can help. If they don’t, then you can find a new job later.

7 Tips for Improving Your Coding Skills

Whether you are a beginner or experienced programmer, programming keeps changing. You have to keep up with the changes. How do improve your coding skills?

7 Tips For Improving Your Coding Skills
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Most people learn by doing. You get better by writing code and sharing what you learn. Or getting involved with the programming community. To keep improving your coding skills, use the following tips:

1. Write code every day

Write code. Experiment with new ideas. Learn how others write code through copy work. It is the process of recreating an existing work as closely as possible. Writers and painters use this technique to improve their skills.

2. Read books

Why read books? Programming books can explore a topic more deeply than an online tutorial. They show you code in detail. You can reread it and gain new insights.

Here are a few to enjoy:

3. Challenge yourself

Do a coding challenge. Practice your skills with a programming quiz, a front-end design challenge or 100 Days of code.

4. Listen to podcasts

You can find podcasts on any topic. Pick from coding to tech news. Find one or more to get tips, tricks or updates on new technology. Don’t know where to start? Try FreeCodeCamp’s list of best tech podcasts for software developers.

5. Take a class

Pick a class to learn more about a programming topic or to pick up a specific skill. Get started with sites like Treehouse or FreeCodeCamp.

6. Share what you know

Write article or tutorials for your own blog or tech website. Present a topic at a meetup or users group.

7. Get involved in open source

Help out by writing code or documentation or testing. Pick a project that you are interested in and find out what you can do. Learn more about getting involved in open source.

More tips to help you code better