Case study: speeding-up No.3 London Dry Gin

Page loading speed just keeps getting more important, so what do you do when someone hands you a site to look after and it's the slowest site you've seen in ages? Rebuild it of course...

   |    Topics: Acquiring visitors, Converting visitors

3 minute read

It's not just mobile users who benefit - our expectations are getting higher whatever the device and Google even use it with their search engine ranking.

Improving the loading speed of the site was important, and we were aiming for load times below 2 seconds. We chose this figure because Google have indicated load times this quick will improve ranking significantly and it's become something of an industry benchmark. The budget didn't include a redesign1 so we instead opted for a complete rebuild so we could:

  1. use more efficient code
  2. reduce the number of files required by the website
  3. reduce the size of the files required by the website

We also restructured the homepage and switched the hosting to a more powerful server.

How did we do?

Homepage loading times as measured by Pingdom:

BeforeAfter
5.45s1.32s
5.06s1.28s
5.02s1.34s
5.04s1.28s
5.02s1.29s

That's quite an improvement - we've managed to get the homepage loading times down by 75%!

Dry Martini Cocktails page loading times:

BeforeAfter
5.04s1.48s
5.2s1.38s
5.03s1.37s
5.5s1.38s
5.07s1.43s

A reduction of 73%.

“In a nutshell, we've reduced load times from about 5 seconds to below 2 seconds, actually averaging between 1.302 and 1.562 seconds. A great result.”

So, what did it? I think the two key factors have been rebuilding the site using more efficient code and switching to better hosting.

What part did the hosting play?

Part of the site we didn't work on was the toolbox or press area. Instead, we just duplicated it on the new server, which means comparing it with the toolbox on the old server will give us an idea of the performance improvements due to the hosting switch.

Toolbox loading times:

BeforeAfter
2.04s0.773s
2.04s0.773s
1.94s0.904s
2.04s0.777s
2.02s0.810s

A reduction of 1.2 seconds is down to the hosting then 2.

More efficient build

If the hosting is worth approximately 1.2 seconds in savings, the remaining 1.5 to 2.7 seconds is down to the rebuild, then. Most of this comes from our improved build requiring less files be downloaded. For example, on the homepage we're downloading only 13 files from the server, while the old site's homepage required a staggering 34!

Overall, I think this is a really good result. We've successfully reduced page load times to less than 2 seconds. That should means better rankings, more visitors and a better experience for everyone using the site3.


Footnotes

  1. We've used the existing design, carried out by someone else.
  2. We're testing the site under light loads here - I'd expect the differences to be more siginificant during periods of high traffic.
  3. We've other improvements, too!
Clive Portman

Author

Clive Portman

Clive works with digital strategy and web development, helping small businesses to use the web more effiectively.

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