How fast is your website?

There has been an awful lot of research that shows potential customers drop off of slow websites, but speeding things up isn’t always as simple as it sounds.

Nobody likes it when the website they’re using takes forever to load, right? Well, this is true not only for your customers, but for your search engine ranking as well. There are absolutely no upsides to a slow website, so why are there so many of them out there? 

Well, for starters, making a website fast isn’t as easy as it sounds. Sure, if your website is just some static content, then one of the many caching modules out there will get you about 60% of the way there, but why is this such a complex problem in the first place? 

To understand how we as developers make your website faster, you need to understand what happens during the typical web request. So you’re sitting on your couch, you type in, and you expect that the website will come up. 

Behind the scenes though, your request gets accepted by a server, which then has to execute a whole pile of code to go and generate the webpage for you, component by component, talking to databases and pulling images off of disk and processing reams and reams of code… the whole thing can easily take 2-3 seconds, and that’s when everything is going right. 

So, how do we make this faster? Well, we use what are known as “caches”, where we run all the code to generate the webpage *once*, and then save those completed results to disk, where it can be very rapidly retrieved and returned to you in 0.1 seconds, as opposed to 2-3 seconds. Sounds great, right? 

The problem is this: the cache can only store one copy of the webpage. What happens if your website is an ecommerce story - you can’t show a website that has someone else’s products in the cart! You NEED to generate the webpage uniquely, for each and every customer! 

This is where it all starts to get much more complicated. There are solutions, workarounds and strategies, all of which are too complex to get into in this article, but they all boil down to this one fundamental truth: making your website fast can get really difficult, really quickly, but fortunately it’s one of the areas that we here at Assembler have a lot of experience in, from small businesses to national brands. So, if you’d like to find out more about how to get the most speed out of your website, feel free to get in touch with us today! 

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