With 2012 less than a week away, have you got your New Year’s Resolutions for your startup ready? You know, that list of things you’re going to tackle so that 2012 outshines 2011, at least as far as as your startup.
Here’s the first of a set of Startup New Year’s Resolutions I’m recommending this week, and exactly how to adopt, execute and enjoy the benefits.
Resolution #1: My startup site is going on a diet.
How long does it take to load your site? That’s too slow. Too slow for Google which factors in loading time when returning your site in a search, too slow for impatient prospective customers who will abandon your site, never to return.
Unlike human diets that miserably fail, here’s a site diet that will actually work in a couple of hours, not months:
- Measure your site default page right now. There’s lots of web tools to measure your site loading time: I like Pingdom’s Full Page Test, even if it’s beta (In fact, I like Pingdom, period.). This site came in at an 3.87s – “faster than 44% of all tested websites”; The Startup Success Podcast came in at a dismal 9.50s, “Slower than 85% of all tested websites”.
- Record that measurement. You’re in this for the long haul, so write it down. Evernote is an excellent place for it – Create a note called 2012 Load times, insert a table, and enter your baseline measurement. (Tip: take a screenshot, drag that into the note)
- Squeeze those images! Depending on how diligent you already are about paring the fat from jpgs, pngs and gifs, this one change could do wonders for your site. In a nutshell, you want to a) use the right image types to reduce size, and b) actually reduce the size of images as part of your standard site workflow. You’ll find a list of tools under Resources that work online and off – find one or two that work for you.
- Improve your server’s digestion.By that I mean there’s a range of best practices that lets your server better digest your site’s components. Since every site is different, you’ll need to dig into this (See Resources below), but here’s a couple of basic recommended practices:
- Avoid Resizing Images in HTML – it makes your server work more.
- Maximize and improve your CSS – little things like italicizing text via CSS instead of using and em tag add up.
- Don’t forget to put the squeeze on other key pages. Besides your index page, plan to run your main product, purchase and about pages through the load time reduction steps above. They are the ones your prospective customers are most likely to look at.
- Change your coding/content creation habits. After going through all the steps above, you will be hyperaware of what bloats your site. Write those lessons learned and keen insights down as a checklist for the next time you add code or content to your site. Again, Evernote is a good, accessible, free, multidevice place to store that checklist.
- Weigh in periodically. Controlling your or your site’s size is not a one shot deal. Close the loop and finish the task by scheduling it for the start of each new quarter in 2012 in whatever app you keep appointments for yourself. Your customers and your revenue stream will thank you.