Full Speed Ahead: Top 5 Tips to Tackle Latency Once and For All

LatencyHeader_l

The following is a guest post.

Latency – it’s the thorn in the side of webmasters, often driving away precious visitors and sometimes harming a website’s rankings within search engines. In today’s online environment, it’s hard to get people to your website. The last thing you want to do is watch them leave because it takes three seconds or longer to load your page. Three seconds is an eternity to people searching the Internet. Here’s how to tackle latency for good.

1. Allow for Multiple Connections

Image via Flickr by laffy4k

Latency happens when a user clicks on your page. The user’s computer has to request access to each item on the page. The server then has to process these requests and return the requested items to the user’s computer. Supplying the ability to access multiple connections concurrently speeds this process tremendously. This is accomplished by improving the browser’s cache.

2. Allow for Multiple Concurrent Streams Over a Single Connection

The process of a user’s computer requesting page information and waiting for the server to process and return the information, is called a round trip. Web page administrators can reduce latency by using Google’s SPDY protocol to extend what the browser is capable of doing. It can add a session layer over the SSL to allow for a number of streams concurrently over a single connection.

3. Bring Users Closer to the Content

The single biggest factor in latency is distance. Web page administrators can put their users closer to their content by using CDNs (content delivery networks). CDNs cache the website’s content in servers, which are distributed across the service region or even around the world. This cuts down on the round trip time for desktop users, but unfortunately doesn’t help your mobile users.

4. Consolidate Objects on a Page into Bundles

Another way to cut down on latency is to bundle the packets on the page, which makes it much faster to load page items that recur on subsequent pages of the website. This front end optimization can be done manually or can be automated. Strangeloop site optimizer and FEO are great tools for doing this. These tools provides more leverage for the browser’s cache, making it much faster for users to access items quickly. Be sure to optimize for faster viewing of multiple web pages during the same trip, as well as for repeat visits by the same computer to the website.

55-h_main-w

5. Test for Different User Experiences

When developing and updating a website, it’s important to consider users of slow dial-up connections, as well as users of speedier satellite Internet ISPS providers. Also, take into account users of multiple browsers. Don’t assume all your users are working with Internet Explorer, because Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and other alternative browsers are gaining in popularity.

Also, test your website on a variety of devices. Mobile users have very different experiences than desktop users. When testing and improving latency for one user, make sure you’re providing a great user experience for all users. In fact, mobile users are gaining in relevance as mobile devices continue to permeate the market, and mobile users are on the go. They’re more likely to lose patience and head to your competitor’s site if they’re in a hurry and latency is spoiling their experience.

With these tips in mind, you’ll never worry about losing a user to latency again.

Emily Green is a freelance writer with more than six years’ experience in blogging, copywriting, content, SEO, dissertation, technical and thesis writing. She loves all things tech and stays connected with satellite Internet.