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How Well Does Your Website Perform?

By Duncan Hewitt on September 15, 2016

The majority of people take for granted exactly what is going on behind the scenes when surfing the web. There is a whole mess of technical things going on. Web Developers are obviously operating within this world but marketers tend to be shying away from it. This is a hugely dangerous precedent. Marketers depend heavily on the back-end development of a website, no more so than the number of HTTP requests your webpage requires which directly affects page load time and therefore user experience, bounce rate and further crucial metrics. **What is an HTTP request?** Each time someone visits a webpage, that person's web browser pings the web server that hosts the webpage they're trying to visit. It requests that the server send it the files containing the content for that site. These files contain any text, images, and multimedia that exist on that webpage. Still with us? That request is called an HTTP request. HTTP stands for "Hypertext Transfer Protocol," which is just a fancy name for a web browser sending a request for a file, and the server sending that file to the browser. Stay strong… Once your server receives an HTTP request from a user's browser, your server then responds and delivers the files to that user's browser. The user's browser then renders the webpage. Here's the thing: The browser needs to make a separate HTTP request for every single file on your website. If your website doesn't have many files, then it won't take very long to request and download the content on your site. But most good websites do have a lot of files. Large, high definition images are usually the culprit. The trick is compression! **How HTTP requests affect user experience** The more HTTP requests, the longer your site takes to load. And larger files will take even longer to transfer. A long load time can be a disruptive and frustrating experience for your users immediately causing them to switch off from your brand. Mobile users will have a particularly bad experience, as most of them will have to wait until every asset on a webpage is downloaded before the page will even begin to appear in their mobile browser. This is a big turn off. 47% of consumers expect a webpage to load in two seconds or less, and 40% abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. Those are some stats for your a*s. Some people think they can solve the problem by only using one JavaScript file to control their entire website. But remember: File size affects load time, too. For complex websites, that one file will be insanely long. Close, but no cigar. While there isn't necessarily an optimal number of files your webpage should be reduced to, we suggest aiming for between 10–20 files (including images). For most top-performing websites, getting there is difficult and generally requires dedicated engineering resources. The average number of page requests is 99+ **How to Reduce Your Website's HTTP Requests** Check how many HTTP requests your site currently makes Remove unnecessary images Reduce the file size for remaining images Evaluate other parts of your page that are contributing to page load time Make JavaScript asynchronous Combine CSS files together. If you want a more detailed report of your website's overall performance check out our FREE website health check  HERE