You have put in a lot of time and effort to develop a successful business model, user-friendly website design, and content that will appeal to a broad audience. You’ve made your website mobile-friendly so that a large audience can see your content. Besides this, you have also thoroughly checked the site for bugs. Every member of your operations staff is primed and raring regarding the project. In a nutshell, you’ve taken care of the digital business in almost all aspects of the site’s design and delivery. It’s like you are prepared for every problem that might come your way. However, in contrast, are you?
Despite starting with a lean, agile, responsive design, your site may end up sluggish and unresponsive after being bloated with “extras” added by marketing teams or company leaders who aren’t always concerned about website performance. Predicting the behavior of something you have no power over is impossible.
So, the question is, how can these web resources impact the performance of your website, and how can you reduce their impact? Keep reading to get the answers!
Understanding the Different Types of Web Resources
All practical online applications have to provide access to supplemental materials. Images, audio, scripts, and stylesheets are all examples of external resources. Internal resources include things like the texts and styles embedded in HTML tags.
The two broad categories for these are “first-party” and “third-party” resources. When you visit a website, those files and images stored on the same server as the page you’re viewing are said to be “first-party resources.” Third-party resources include those located in external domains.
For What Purpose Do We Require Third-Party Resources?
Almost every page you view will include some form of third-party resources. Principal justifications for employing them are:
- To have one’s own separate online space. Facebook, for example, stores static content at static.xx.fbcdn.net for fast delivery.
- Utilizing third-party hosting providers like Imgur.com
- A/B Testing
- Content embedding, such as YouTube videos.
- Using a content delivery network (CDN).
- Add-ons such as Google Analytics.
- Sponsored content and Ads
Is It a Terrible Idea to Use Third-Party Resources? – No, It Isn’t!
For continued use on the web, it is generally safe to incorporate third-party resources from a reliable source. There are plenty of good reasons to evaluate and intentionally control them critically. If a provider promises permanent free file hosting, for example, it can probably be spam or a scammer.
To comply with the most recent rules for websites, you should probably disable third-party cookies unless the user consents to their use.
How Can Untrusted Third-Party Resources Affect the Website?
They May Not Function As Expected.
The external resource you’ve requested may be slow to load because of a crowded or inefficient server, increasing the overall load time. Similarly, your preferred image host may be downscaling your images without your knowledge.
They Might Delete or Move the File.
Most free file hosting will destroy your data if you don’t actively access them, so be careful. You’ll get a 404 error message the next time.
They May Make Alterations to the File.
Ways to Lessen the Impact of These Resources and Keep Your Site Running Smoothly.
If you want more control over how external scripts are loaded, you can try hosting them on your server. It’s useful for minimizing DNS lookups, enhancing HTTP caching headers, and implementing cutting-edge features like HTTP/2 server push. Self-hosted scripts require extra care because they can become obsolete after extended use and stop functioning correctly. If you’re hosting these libraries internally, you’ll need to keep your server up-to-date with the latest versions.
Put Browser Resource Hints to Use
Third-party scripts need to connect to external websites, which might be time-consuming if your users have inactive connections. Significant delays can be caused by DNS lookups, redirection, and the number of round-trips required to load each third-party script.
You can utilize browser resource hints to initiate communication with the remote domain hosting the third-party script at the outset of page load. Many resource indications exist; however, DNS-prefetch and Preconnect are particularly useful in this case.
Delete If Not Needed
You should consider removing a third-party script if it isn’t contributing anything useful to your site. Many WordPress plugins and themes will load a bunch of scripts you won’t need. These scripts will increase DNS lookup and slow your website’s loading time. Determine which scripts are responsible for this and eliminate them from your code entirely.
Delay The Loading Of Third-Party Scripts
If you notice that scripts from external sources are slowing down your site, you can load them asynchronously or postpone their execution using the async and defer aspects of HTML.
When you download a script asynchronously, the async property instructs the browser to keep processing the rest of the HTML content. Once the script is downloaded, HTML parsing is temporarily halted so that the script can be executed. The difference is that the defer property waits for the browser to finish parsing the complete HTML content before running the script.
Loading scripts from external sources should be done asynchronously wherever possible (unless you require the script for the critical rendering route of your page).
Lazy-load Third-Party JS
Embedded third-party features, such as advertisements and videos can significantly burden your website if sent from poorly optimized sources. These embedded resources can be lazy-loaded to save page load time. For instance, if you have advertisements in your website’s footer, you can set them to lazy-load so that they don’t appear until the user scrolls down the page.
Use a Tag Manager to Organize Third-Party JS
Multiple scripts from outside sources (known as “tags”) can be consolidated into one and managed with the help of a tag manager.
Even though you can load scripts from external sources asynchronously, the browser must process each separately before using them. This could involve making a data request while the page is loading. Tag managers eliminate the issues mentioned earlier by centrally managing all requests.
The most widely adopted method for controlling tags is Google Tag Manager (GTM). It loads asynchronously along with all its tags, allowing the browser to render a page immediately after loading. A single slow-loading third-party script will not prevent loading any other scripts.
Align Your Third-Party Services with the Locations of Your Visitors
Suppose that most of your website’s users are located in Europe, but the third-party service you’re employing stores and serves its content from the United States. In that case, your site’s performance may suffer due to the long distance the data have to travel. Not all third-party services will employ their own content delivery network (CDN) to ensure that they serve requests from geographically close to your visitors. You may need to check that the hostnames or settings you are using are correct before using a third-party service.
Most modern websites would not function without the use of third-party resources. You can optimize all the other code on your website to perfection, but you have no say over the behavior of external scripts. Some of these may be essential to the site’s operation, user satisfaction, or income generation; thus, avoiding them is futile. However, still, some third-party solutions can be harmful to your website as well. Therefore, choosing the right one(s) becomes extremely important.
Some of the ideas presented here could be difficult to grasp at first. Thus, it would be great to read them over again. You can improve the ability to manage page load performance by learning how third-party scripts affect page load times and what you can do about it.
If doing it on your own seems challenging, you can also consult a professional web development company like Saffron Tech. Our experts will help you optimize your website and integrate the third-party resources suitable for your business. Get in touch today to know more!