10 Reasons Why Your Website Takes So Long to Load

by Carson
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Why is my website so slow?

When you visit your website, one of the main problems you might notice is that your website takes so long to load. Here are 10 reasons why this could happen, and ways you can optimize your site for better speed and a lower bounce rate.

Table of Contents

  1. Network problem
  2. Render blocking code
  3. Hosting Problems
  4. Website attacks or server overload
  5. Outdated software
  6. A large webpage
  7. Caching issues
  8. Too many plugins
  9. Location of server
  10. Redirections

1. Network Problem

Before troubleshooting any of your site’s issues, make sure it isn’t a network problem. Try to use the ping command on your command-line interface and connect to a website you use every day (like google.com). If those packets are consistently lost or takes too long to complete a round-trip, you might have an unstable or bad network connection.

You can use the ping command to see if the computer can connect to the website
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Screenshot captured from Terminal in macOS

If other sites load normally, problems with your website are the culprit. Make sure you solve the problem as quickly and as efficiently as possible to avoid losing visitors.

2. Render-Blocking Code

Sometimes, render-blocking JavaScript or CSS can cause your website contents to load slower. These scripts cause other resources to “wait” while the script or stylesheet executes or applies on your site.

This is a relatively easy problem to fix, as long as you are familiar with the code. You can either use the defer or async attribute on scripts, which loads the script after the browser has parsed the HTML file, or enables the browser to load other resources while loading the script (async). Otherwise, the browser will load the script before parsing the rest of the page, and it can severely impact performance if there are many operations in the script.

An example of the usage of the "async" or "defer" attribute in JavaScript:
<script src="defer.js" defer>
<script src="async.js" async>

Moreover, if you have to link to a separate file to obtain the stylesheet, you should use the preload attribute. In that case, the browser can access it quickly whenever it is needed. You can also load it later so that the main parsing is not affected. However, be aware that critical CSS must still be loaded when the page is being rendered to provide a better user experience.

3. Hosting Problems

Sometimes, the problem with your slow website is on your server itself. For example, hosting problems will worsen server response time, which means the visitors must wait longer to access the content.

How to prevent that from happening? Well, you should choose a reliable and fast hosting plan. But if you are hosting the website on your servers, try to troubleshoot any issues or errors that might take up some loading time.

4. Website Attacks or Server Overload

Unfortunately, the reason why your website becomes slow is that it is suffering a DDoS attack. This is often used for hiding other attacks by making your website exceptionally slow or not responding at all to let visitors go away, preventing them from reporting or noticing other attacks. What’s worse, there might also be malware running, taking up system resources and making your site slower.

If your server is under DDoS and/or malware attacks, it can use up too many system resources, which might be the reason why your website is slowing down.
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To rule out this, attempt to enter the anti-malware software on your site and conduct a malware scan. If you highly suspect malware is the cause of the fact that your website slows down, follow the steps in this article about how to (hopefully) remove malware from your website.

Of course, the same phenomenon can also be caused by suddenly increasing traffic, which is a great thing, especially if your online store has some kind of drastic offers that attracted many customers in. However, if this is happening every time you apply these, it’s time to upgrade your server. Keep in mind that unexplained traffic spikes can be a sign of malware infection and/or attacks, too.

5. Outdated Software

Sometimes, the software, such as the CMS or your plugins, gets outdated and can contain bugs or cause errors that slow down the website’s performance. It’s important to regularly check for updates because they fix security exploits that might lead to website attacks in the future. You should also do this on your operating system and your apps. Once you find an update, update the software as soon as possible to fix those issues.

6. A Large Webpage

If your website takes long to load, it might be the download speed that is slow. In that case, the problem might be due to the large size of your website. If there are too many large images, audio files, videos, scripts, or stylesheets, it increases download time immediately.

If you suffer from this problem, you have to compress your media files, such as images and audio. Minify your scripts and stylesheets if they contain a lot of unnecessary whitespaces. But make sure you only minify it when you are uploading your website, and always keep a copy with those spaces to make it readable and enable easy editing.

7. Caching Issues

To understand this problem, you have to know what caching is first. Caching is the act of storing data in a temporary storage location, making files load faster. For instance, browsers may write files like images and scripts on your hard drive to make a website show up in a shorter time if you revisit it.

But if you have a problem with caching, like the fact that your disabled browser caching, you may run into problems with the speed of your website. This means that every file visitors access from your website will be downloaded from the server itself, not the hard drive or the CDN (Content Delivery Network). That can adversely impact the speed of your website, and it’s helpful to enable or fix any errors with caching your website files to give you a better user experience if someone revisits it.

Caching website files is important
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8. Too Many Plugins

If you have installed many plugins to enhance your site, you might have brought a disadvantage. By installing plugins, you increase the scripts that have to load, which can negatively affect performance. To solve this, consider uninstalling the plugins you don’t use at all. Moreover, if the plugin’s function can be replicated by tweaking some settings or adding a few characters in HTML, those are worth deleting, too.

9. Location of Server

If your TTFB (Time to First Byte) is slow, you might have placed your server in the wrong place. However, you should make sure that the location set for the test is near the location of the majority of the audience, or it might cause things to go even slower for some visitors after the troubleshooting.

If you are encountering an issue like that, try storing your website in another server closer to most of your visitors. In that case, the signals from your browser will reach the server in a shorter time, and the server’s response will be delivered quickly, too.

10. Redirections

Whenever you visit a webpage whose URL isn’t exactly where your server wants to send you to, it will redirect you to another page. If even that is not what is supposed to be displayed, the server redirects you again. While redirects are essential if you are changing the URL of a page, they can cause problems if you have multiple redirects at once.

For instance, if you redirect http://website.com to https://website.com, and then https://www.website.com, it means having two 301 redirects. Keep in mind that redirects are synchronous, where the results of one instruction is required to run another instruction. The client needs to obtain the destination URL in order to send another request to the server. That means the requests at that time are successive instead of simultaneous, meaning that we have to shorten that time as much as possible to produce the best results. We want to get to the asynchronous part right away.

Therefore, if you detect multiple redirects or redirect chains on your website, you should change to set only one redirect. If the server sends out a 301 request, it always goes directly to the final destination without any other URLs in the middle of the process.

In any case, use only one redirect and reach the final destination!
Screenshot taken from Google Chrome
Image edited using Canva

Conclusion

In this article, we’ve talked about why your website may take so long to load and how you can potentially fix those issues. A variety of things can be improved to make a better user experience and a lowered bounce rate. To learn more, you can visit the websites in the references below. Additionally, if we missed any important points, feel free to leave it in the comments below.

References and Credits

  1. Ellice. (2019, June 6). 12 Reasons Your Website Is Slow (And How to Fix Them). Retrieved July 7, 2021, from https://www.dreamhost.com/blog/how-to-fix-slow-website/
  2. Shreya Bose. (2020, June 22). 10 Reasons why your website loading is slow. Retrieved July 7, 2021, from https://www.browserstack.com/guide/why-website-loading-slow
  3. Jajwalya Karajgikar. (2019, June 5). 10 Reasons Why Your WordPress Website Is Slow. Retrieved July 7, 2021, from https://www.malcare.com/blog/why-is-my-website-slow/
  4. (n.d.). What is Web Caching and What Cached Data Means. Retrieved July 9, 2021, from https://www.akamai.com/us/en/resources/web-caching.jsp
  5. Cloudflare. (n.d.). What is caching? Retrieved July 9, 2021, from https://www.cloudflare.com/learning/cdn/what-is-caching/
  6. Austin Gunter. (2013, August 28). Plugins and Fast WordPress Sites – It’s not the Number of Plugins, It’s the Quality. Retrieved July 9, 2021, from https://wpengine.com/blog/plugins-and-fast-wordpress-sites-its-not-the-number-of-plugins-its-the-quality/
  7. Lindsay Kolowich Cox. (2019, April 10). How to Reduce Your Website’s HTTP Requests. Retrieved July 9, 2021, from https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/reduce-http-requests

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