In this go-go-hurry-hurry world, visitors to our websites want quick load times and easy access to the information. But oftentimes, our websites become less than cooperative and begin to falter and bog down. Some fixes are easy, some a little harder. Fortunately, however, there are a handful of tools that can speed up your site with minimal investment of time or money.
Smush.it: Smush.it is a WordPress plugin that uses Yahoo’s Smush.it service to optimize images on websites and blogs. Yahoo’s Smush.it optimizes the images and uploads the optimized image back on to the user’s server. Users mistakenly think this plugin resizes images, when in fact it only reduces their file size, thus taking up less room on your server. After Smush.it runs on a web page, it reports how many bytes would be saved by optimizing the page’s images and provides a downloadable zip file with the minimized image files. Smush.it does indeed have a few limitations, including not being able to bulk “smush” images or smush images that existed on a site before installing the plugin. But the results have proven to speed up load times on websites and blogs.
Imsanity Plugin: Whereas Smush.it does not reduce the physical size of an image, Imsanity does. This plugin automatically resizes huge image uploads down to a size that is more reasonable (or “sane”) for display in browsers, yet still more than large enough for typical website use. The plugin is configurable with a max width, height and quality. When a user uploads an image that is larger than the configured size, Imsanity will automatically scale it down to the configured size and replace the original image. Imsanity also provides a bulk-resize feature to selectively resize previously uploaded images to free up disk space. NOTE: This plugin is designed for sites where high-resolution images are not necessary and/or site contributors do not want (or understand how) to deal with scaling images. This plugin should not be used on sites for which original, high-resolution images must be stored.
CloudFlare: CloudFlare is a free global CDN and DNS provider that can speed up and protect any online site. As a website owner, you are aware of the constant battle against spammers, hackers and slow load times. CloudFlare is a community of webmasters that come together to form not only a virtual knowledge base, but the equivalent of an online neighborhood watch team. No hardware or software is needed since CloudFlare is an add-on service with hosting companies like BlueHost. Enabling the free version of this tool allows users to enjoy faster site performance, broad security protection, SSL, powerful stats about your visitors and most importantly; peace of mind about your website. CloudFlare has paid and premium options as well that include advanced service features and analytics that run anywhere from $20-$5000 per month depending on the site owner’s needs. CloudFlare will also never bill users for bandwidth usage if their site suddenly gets popular or suffers an attack. In my opinion, CloudFlare is a win/win simply because not only does it speed up load times; it keeps a watchful eye on your site as well.
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