Better Site Speed: 4 Outside-the-Box Ideas

Most of us have executed website velocity audits, or seen audits executed by others. These could be actually useful for companies, however I typically discover they’re fairly slim in focus. Typically we use well-known instruments that throw up a bunch of issues to take a look at, after which we dive into issues from there.

However, if we dig deeper, there are sometimes different concepts on how website velocity could be improved. I typically see loads of alternatives which might be by no means coated in website velocity audits. Most website velocity enhancements are the results of a bunch of small modifications, and so on this publish I’m going to cowl a couple of concepts that I’ve by no means seen in any website velocity audit, all of which might make a distinction.

A special angle on picture optimization

Consider optimized SVGs over PNGs

I used to be lately trying to e book some tickets to see Frozen 2 (due to, erm, my children…) and so landed on this web page. It makes use of three SVG photographs for transport icons:

SVG photographs are vector photographs, in order that they’re well-suited for issues like icons; you probably have photographs displayed as PNGs you could need to ask your designers for the unique SVGs, as there could be appreciable financial savings. Though not all the time higher, utilizing an SVG can save 60% of the filesize.

In this case, these icons are available at about 1.2k every, so they’re fairly small. They would most likely fly underneath the radar of website velocity audits (and neither Page Speed Insights or GTMetrix point out these photographs in any respect for this web page).

So you could be pondering, “They’re less than 5k combined — you should look for bigger issues!”, however let’s have a look. Firstly, we will run all of them by means of Jake Archibald’s SVG compression device; it is a nice free device and on bigger SVGs it will possibly make an enormous distinction.

In this case the information are small, so you should still be pondering “Why bother?” The device compresses them with none loss in high quality from ~1240 bytes to ~630 bytes — a very good ratio however not a lot of an general saving.

However… now that we have compressed them, we will suppose in another way about delivering them…

Inline photographs

GTMetrix makes suggestions round inlining small bits of CSS or JS, however doesn’t point out inlining photographs. Images will also be inlined, and typically this may be the correct method.

If you contemplate that even a really small picture file requires a whole spherical journey (which might have a really actual influence on velocity), even for small information this may take a very long time. In the case of the Cineworld transport photographs above, I simulated a “Fast 3G” connection and noticed:

The website just isn’t utilizing HTTP2 so there’s a lengthy wait interval, after which the picture (which is 1.2kb) takes virtually 600ms to load (no HTTP2 additionally means that is blocking different requests). There are three of those photographs, so between them they are often having an actual influence on web page velocity.

However, we have now compressed them to only some hundred bytes every, and SVG photographs are literally made up of markup in a similar way to HTML:

You can really put SVG markup straight into an HTML doc!

If we do that with all three of the transport photographs, the compressed HTML for this web page that’s despatched from the server to our browser will increase from 31,182 bytes to 31,532 bytes — a rise of solely 350 bytes for all Three photographs!

So to recap:

  • Our HTML request has elevated 350 bytes, which is barely something
  • We can discard three spherical journeys to the server, which we will see have been taking appreciable time

Some of you will have realized that if the photographs weren’t inline they could possibly be cached individually, so future web page requests wouldn’t must refetch them. But if we contemplate:

  • Each picture was initially about 1.5kb over the community (they aren’t gzipping the SVGs), with about 350 bytes of HTTP headers on high for a complete of about 5.5kb transferred. So, general we have diminished the quantity of content material over the community.
  • This additionally signifies that it might take over 20 pageviews to profit from having them cached.

Takeaway: Consider the place there are alternatives to make use of SVGs as a substitute of PNGs.

Takeaway: Make certain you optimize the SVG photographs, use the free device I linked to.

Takeaway: Inlining small photographs could make sense and produce outsized efficiency positive factors.

Note: You also can inline PNGs — see this information.

Note: For optimized PNG/JPG photographs, attempt Kraken.

Back off, JavaScript! HTML can deal with this…

So typically these days, because of the prevalence of JavaScript libraries that supply an off-the-shelf answer, I discover JavaScript getting used for performance that could possibly be achieved with out it. More JS libraries means extra to obtain, perhaps extra spherical journeys for extra information from the server, after which the JavaScript execution time and prices themselves.

I’ve a number of sympathy for the way you get thus far. Developers are sometimes given poor briefs/specs that fail to specify something about efficiency, solely perform. They are sometimes time-poor and so it is simple to finish up simply dropping one thing in.

However, a number of progress has been made when it comes to the performance that may be achieved with HTML and or CSS. Let’s take a look at some examples.

Combo field with search

Dropdown bins which have a textual content search choice are a reasonably widespread interface aspect these days. One current article I got here throughout described easy methods to use the Select2 Javascript library to make such an inventory:

It is a helpful UI aspect, and can assist your customers. However, within the Select2 library is a JavaScript library, which in flip depends on some CSS and the JQuery library. This means three spherical journeys to gather a bunch of information of various sizes:

  • JQuery – 101kb
  • Select2 JavaScript – 24kb
  • Select2 CSS – 3kb

This just isn’t ideally suited for website velocity, however we might actually make the case it’s price it with the intention to have a streamlined interface for customers.

However, it’s really doable to have this performance out of the field with the HTML datalist aspect:

This permits the consumer to look by means of the record or to free kind their very own response, so gives the identical performance. Furthermore, it has a local interface on smartphones!

You can see this in motion on this codepen.


LonelyPlanet has an exquisite web site, and I used to be taking a look at this web page about Spain, which has a ‘Read More’ hyperlink that almost all internet customers will likely be conversant in:

Like virtually each implementation of this that I see, they’ve used a JavaScript library to implement this, and as soon as once more this comes with a bunch of overheads.

However, HTML has a pair of built-in tags known as particulars and abstract, that are designed to implement this performance precisely. For free and natively in HTML. No overheads, and extra accessible for customers needing a display screen reader, whereas additionally conveying semantic that means to Google.

These tags could be styled in numerous versatile methods with CSS and recreate a lot of the JS variations I’ve seen on the market.

Check out a easy demo right here:

…and extra

For extra examples of performance which you could obtain with HTML as a substitute of JS, try these hyperlinks:


Takeaway: Examine the performance of your websites and see the place there could also be alternatives to cut back your reliance on giant Javascript libraries the place there are native HTML/CSS choices.

Takeaway: Remember that it isn’t solely the scale of the JS information that’s problematic, however the variety of spherical journeys which might be required.

Note: There are circumstances the place it’s best to use the JS answer, however you will need to weigh up the professionals and cons.

Networking tune-ups

Every time the browser has to gather assets from a server, it has to ship a message throughout the web and again; the velocity of that is restricted by the velocity of sunshine. This might sound like a ridiculous factor to concern ourselves with, but it surely signifies that even small requests add time to the web page load. If you didn’t catch the hyperlink above, my publish explaining HTTP2 discusses this concern in additional element.

There are some issues we will do to assist both scale back the space of those requests or to cut back the variety of spherical journeys wanted. These are just a little bit extra technical, however can obtain some actual wins.

TLS 1.Three

TLS (or SSL) is the encryption expertise used to safe HTTPS connections. Historically it has taken two spherical journeys between the browser and the server to setup that encryption — if the consumer is 50ms away from the server, then this implies 200ms per connection. Keep in thoughts that Google traditionally recommends aiming for 200ms to ship the HTML (this appears barely relaxed in more moderen updates); you are shedding a number of that point right here.

The lately outlined TLS 1.Three normal reduces this from two spherical journeys to only one, which might shave some treasured time without work the customers preliminary connection to your web site.

Speak to your tech group about migrating to TLS 1.Three; browsers that don’t assist it should fallback to TLS 1.2 with out concern. All of that is behind the scenes and isn’t a migration of any kind. There isn’t any motive not to do that.

If you’re utilizing a CDN, then it may be so simple as simply turning it on.

You can use this device to examine which variations of TLS you may have enabled.


Over the final 2-Three years we have now seen a variety of websites transfer from HTTP 1.1 to HTTP 2, which is a behind-the-scenes improve which might make an actual enchancment to hurry (see my hyperlink above if you wish to learn extra).

Right off the again of that, there may be an rising pair of requirements referred to as QUIC + HTTP/Three, which additional optimize the connection between the browser and the server, additional lowering the spherical journeys required.

Support for these is simply simply starting to develop into viable, however in case you are a CloudFlare buyer you may allow that immediately and over the approaching 6 months as Chrome and Firefox roll assist out, your customers will get a velocity enhance.

Read extra right here:

Super routing

When customers hook up with your web site, they must open community connections from wherever they’re to your servers (or your CDN). If you think about the web as a sequence of roads, then you might think about they should ‘drive’ to your server throughout these roads. However, meaning congestion and site visitors jams.

As it seems, a number of the giant cloud firms have their very own personal roads which have fewer potholes, much less site visitors, and improved velocity limits. If solely your web site guests might get entry to those roads, they may ‘drive’ to you quicker!

Well, guess what? They can!

For CloudFlare, they supply this entry through their Argo product, whereas in case you are on AWS in any respect then you should use their Global Accelerator. This permits requests to your web site to utilize their personal networks and get a possible velocity enhance. Both are very low-cost in case you are already clients.

Takeaway: Quite a lot of these types of advantages are significantly simpler to get in case you’re utilizing a CDN. If you are not already utilizing a CDN, then you definitely most likely must be. CloudFlare is a good alternative, as is CloudFront in case you are utilizing AWS. Fastly is probably the most configurable of them in case you’re extra of a professional.

Takeaway: TLS 1.Three is now very broadly supported and gives a big velocity enchancment for brand spanking new connections.

Takeaway: QUIC / HTTP3 are solely simply beginning to get assist, however over the approaching months this may roll out extra broadly. QUIC contains the advantages of TLS 1.Three in addition to extra. A typical HTTP2 connection these days wants Three spherical journeys to open; QUIC wants only one!

Takeaway: If you are on CloudFlare or AWS, then there may be potential to get velocity ups simply from flipping a change to activate sensible routing options.

Let CSS do extra

Above I talked about how HTML has built-in performance which you could leverage to save lots of counting on options which might be ‘home-rolled’ and thus require extra code (and processing on the browsers facet) to implement. Here I will speak about some examples the place CSS can do the identical for you.

Reuse photographs

Often you discover pages which might be utilizing comparable photographs all through the web page in a number of locations. For instance, variations on a brand in numerous colours, or arrows that time in each instructions. As distinctive belongings (nevertheless comparable they could be), every of those must be downloaded individually.

Returning to my hunt for cinema tickets above, the place I used to be taking a look at this web page, we will see a carousel that has left and proper arrows:

Similarly to the logic used above, whereas these picture information are small, they nonetheless require a spherical journey to fetch from the server.

However, the arrows are similar — simply pointing in reverse instructions! It’s simple for us to make use of CSS’s rework performance to make use of one picture for each instructions:

You can try this codepen for an instance.

Another instance is when the identical brand seems in numerous types on totally different components of the web page; typically they are going to load a number of variations, which isn’t obligatory. CSS can re-color logos for you in quite a lot of methods:

There is a codepen right here exhibiting this system in motion. If you need to calculate the CSS filter worth required to achieve an arbitrary colour, then try this wonderful colour calculator.

Interactions (e.g. menus & tabs)

Often navigation components resembling menus and tabs are applied in JavaScript, however these too could be executed in pure CSS. Check out this codepen for an instance:


CSS3 launched a number of highly effective animation functionality into CSS. Often these are usually not solely sooner than JavaScript variations, however will also be smoother too as they’ll run within the native code of the working system reasonably than having to execute comparatively slower Javascript.

Check out Dozing Bird as one instance:

You can discover a lot extra on this article. CSS animations can add a number of character to pages at a comparatively small efficiency price.

…and extra

For extra examples of performance which you could obtain utilizing pure CSS options, check out:


Takeaway: Use CSS to optimize what number of information you need to load utilizing rotations or filters.

Takeaway: CSS animations can add character to pages, and sometimes require much less assets than JavaScript.

Takeaway: CSS is completely able to implementing many interactive UI components.

Wrap up

Hopefully you have discovered these examples helpful in themselves, however the broader level I need to make is that we should always all attempt to suppose a bit extra out of the field almost about website velocity. Of specific significance is lowering the variety of spherical journeys wanted to the server; even small belongings take a while to fetch and may have an considerable influence on efficiency (particularly cellular).

There are a lot extra concepts than we have coated right here, so please do soar into the feedback you probably have different issues you may have come throughout.

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