how to speed up drupal

How to Speed up Your Drupal Website?

January 6, 2017 / Tutorials

Powering over a quarter million sites on the internet, Drupal is one of the most popular open-source content management systems along with WordPress and Joomla. Drupal is not just a simple CMS though, it’s much more complex and advanced than its counterparts, and it’s often defined as a content management framework rather than a CMS, because, unlike other CMSs, Drupal makes no assumptions regarding the structuring of content. What is more, Drupal is an enterprise-level CMS boasting more stability, scalability and security than any other CMS. Its modular design gives developers endless possibilities to create any sites that they envision.

In this article we’ll tackle the ways that you can speed up your Drupal website and why speed matters today more than ever before.

Why speed matters

Drupal powers all types of websites from large-scale corporate and government websites to small blogs. Website speed has become central to a good user experience, lower site abandonment rates, better conversions, and better SEO performance. Indeed, Google’s ranking algorithm now includes website speed as well, thus giving way to the race of become the fastest and smoothest running website especially in competitive fields. Of course, all this is beneficial to users, who are also perceiving website speed as a sign of quality. Whether users don’t have patience or they feel like they’re wasting time if a website’s speed is not up to par, one thing is certain: a speedy and fast-loading website is more likely to engage visitors than a slow one. Moreover, visitor retention rates are also higher when a website is optimized in terms of speed performance.

As a result, any business owner who wants visitors to be more engaged and wants his website to rank higher in search results should take notice of our tips on how to speed up a Drupal website.

How to Speed up Your Drupal Website?

  1. Use a good Drupal hosting

If you own a high-traffic high-content Drupal website, you’re probably already aware that shared hosting solutions are a no-go if your goal is to speed up your website. Opting for a fast web hosting is one of the best ways to improve your Drupal website’s performance as you won’t be forced to share resources with hundreds of other sites, and you will have complete control over the allocation of your resources. Opting for a VPS like Vultr, Linode, Digital Ocean is an important step towards taking matters into your own hands.

You may also want to look into Drupal-as-a-service (DAAS) platforms, which are essentially Drupal-specific hosting solutions that will save you the labor of having to configure and manage everything yourself as you would otherwise have to on many VPS services. DAAS platforms include Acquia Cloud, Xplain Hosting, Pantheon, Platform.sh, etc.

  1. Caching your website with modules

Drupal has some in-build caching options, which may be turned off by default in earlier Drupal versions. Caching options are available for pages, views, and panels. In some Drupal versions (e.g. Drupal 8), certain caching options may be enabled by default so you won’t have to enable them manually. You can also use modules to cache your Drupal website. You can even cache and optimize specific components, for example, the Entity Cache module allows you to cache entities, the Speedy module allows you to minify JS files, the ImageLazyloader allows you to load images only when needed, and so on.

Some of the most efficient and popular Drupal performance and scalability modules include Boost (direct file cache), File cache, System (core module), Varnish (reverse proxy), JavaScript Aggregator (file cache), Memcache API and Integration (memory cache), etc.

  1. Optimize images and files

On average, images make up roughly 50 to 60% of a website’s page weight, therefore, it makes sense to decrease page load times by delivering smaller images to your visitors, especially on mobile. Image optimization is always recommended not only for Drupal sites, but also for Joomla or WordPress sites. You can optimize images with Drupal Core’s ImageCache module. The Picture module (backport of Responsive Image module in Drupal 8) helps the optimization of images for different devices and resolutions by pairing image styles with CSS media queries. Reduce the file size of big images with TinyPNG, before uploading images to your site. Most of these tools will result in a significant image compression, but without altering the quality of your images in any noticeable way. For image heavy Drupal websites try lazy-loading images as this will defer the loading of images until these become visible to the browser window.

Apart from image optimization and compression, you should also enable Page compression, Optimize CSS files, and Optimize JavaScript files in Drupal’s admin area under Site Configuration -> Performance, thus, further improving page load.

  1. Use a CDN

A content delivery network is a solution that can be used for the speed improvement of all content management systems. A CDN is a network of interconnected servers that deliver a cached version of the content of your original site to end users based on geographical proximity, that is, your content will be delivered to users by the server that is located closest to them. As static content makes up most of a website, the speed of your Drupal site can be significantly increased given that it won’t be overburdened by serving up static content, and it can focus on serving dynamic content at greater speed not only on web, but also on mobile, where faster load times have an even greater importance. A CDN will also improve your site’s performance by ensuring stability during traffic spikes and minimizing risks associated with heavy traffic on your website.

The CDN module allows you to integrate your CDN with Drupal. The most reputable CDNs include Cloudflare, Amazon Cloudfront, and Max CDN.

Carrying out these changes to your Drupal website will result in an increased performance, which in turn leads to a better user experience and user engagement, not to mention an improvement in your SEO positioning. Therefore, it is in your best interest to optimize your Drupal website to run faster and deliver your users an overall better performance.

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