You’ve heard the term “Garbage in, garbage out” – or maybe its acronym GIGO – and if you’re a website owner, it takes on a specific meaning. Your website’s performance for customers is directly a result of how you prepare it for their consumption. That means engaging the services of a Content Delivery Network without first optimizing your website could result in a disappointing investment. “It was supposed to make my website get delivered faster to my customers,” you might grumble, “but the increase in speed was negligible.”
Gargage in, garbage out.
We’re not talking about the value of the content itself. Servers don’t make judgment calls. Website performance, however, is crucially dependent on the optimization of its elements. Yes, you’ll see noticeable performance increases with a CDN solution, but if you really want impressive gains, put your attention into front-end optimization, first.
The Big Three
There are three areas where a CDN is going to give you the biggest performance improvement, and those are the data-intensive, or “heavy parts” of your website:
- Website images
By focusing your efforts on getting these three bandwidth-intensive hogs as close to optimal perfection as possible, you are dramatically increasing the capability of a CDN’s ability to speed up your website.
What the Big G Says
There are endless online sources for tips on front-end optimization. You’ll most likely use a search engine such as Google to find them – so let’s actually use Google as our subject matter expert. There’s a good reason to lean on Google for this, by the way.
Google will actually rank you lower if your website is slow to load. For insight on Google’s methodology, check out this Google blog post.
Back to what Google has to say about front-end optimization. Check out the complete source here, but an encapsulated version of it comes down to six things:
- Optimize caching
- Minimize round-trip times
- Minimize requests
- Minimize file sizes
- Optimize browser rendering
- Optimize for mobile
You’ll notice that each of these Google-recommended best practices drill into the heart of the three “heavy parts” of a website which a CDN will ultimately help you deliver even faster. In other words, you’re prepping your website to jump from subsonic to supersonic speed by putting its overweight air crew on a diet.
Before and After Pictures
Prior to your front-end optimization prep work, you should give yourself a benchmark by heading to a web destination such as Webpagetest – where you can enter your URL and get a range of statistics about your website’s performance. Hit them again after you’ve completed your front-end optimization to gauge the difference you’ve made.
Engage the Afterburner!
Now that you’ve tweaked these areas, a CDN can really make a difference. That’s because they provide a solution to the one thing over which you have no control – latency: the amount of time it takes for the host server to receive, process, and deliver each request for a page resource. Latency is largely dependent on how far away the user is from that server, multiplied by the number of resources a page contains.
Enter the CDN, with its ability to put multiple versions of the “heavy parts” of your websites in multiple places. MaxCDN has a global distribution of 500 peering partners creating a direct reach into over 90 countries. The result is that your viewers are reaching you with just a single network hop. In some cases that means a page load time could decrease from hundreds of milliseconds to only tens.
Fasten your seatbelts!