How to Boost Web Application Performance?

Web Application Performance

A website or web application performance is important. For an e-commerce site or other customer-facing web applications, performance problems have adverse impacts.

You can boost web application performance in the following ways:

1. Focus on the important metrics to measure the performance of a website or web application

You need a good strategy for web application performance improvement. Build that by knowing what you should improve. Focus on the following 3 metrics to assess the overall web app performance:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): You measure this to assess the site loading performance. Target an LCP of 2.5 seconds from the time the webpage starts loading.
  • First Input Delay (FID): You use FID to measure the interactivity of your website. Your website should have an FID of 100 milliseconds or lower than that.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This indicates the visual stability of your web app. Your web pages need a CLS of 0.1 or less.

Your webpage should meet the target of the 75th percentile for the above-mentioned metrics.

2. Eliminate unnecessary HTTP requests

Web browsers use HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) requests to fetch parts of the webpage from the web server. They do this for images, stylesheets, scripts, etc. HTTP requests have overheads, and too many of them can create performance issues.

Review HTTP requests and remove unnecessary browser requests. You can remove unnecessary JavaScript files, fonts, images, and stylesheets for this. You should only retain the HTTP requests that load the necessary resources.

3. Transition to HTTP/2 for supporting HTTP requests

HTTP/2 is a more powerful version of the well-known protocol. You should transition to HTTP/2 for better web application performance. Check with your web hosting provider for this transition.

HTTP/2 offers the following key advantages over HTTP/1.x:

  • It reduces latency by enabling multiplexing of requests and responses.
  • HTTP/2 compresses the HTTP header fields effectively, which reduces overheads.
  • It allows request prioritization.
  • HTTP/2 includes more protocol enhancements for better performance.

4. Optimize the size of images

Your website might load slowly if it contains plenty of graphics. You might also want the images to display well on high-density displays, therefore, you might use high-resolution images. This might impact the page loading speed.

You need to optimize the images. Choose the appropriate resolution for different devices. Subsequently, optimize the image size.

5. Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network) to make websites and web applications faster

Visitors to your website can connect from different parts of the world. Users from areas that are geographically distant from your server will experience high load times for static files like images, CSS, and JavaScript files.

You can resolve this network performance issue by using a CDN (Content Delivery Network).

There are many CDN providers, e.g., Rackspace CDN, Akamai, etc. They serve static files from geographically distributed servers, therefore, users don’t experience a delay. You can set up a CDN easily.

6. Focus on mobile devices first and then on desktop

Do you try to optimize your website for desktop first, and then look at the mobile user experience? Optimizing the user experience including the performance for mobile devices is harder.

Focus on mobile devices first. Remove common performance bottlenecks and test the site on mobile devices. You can then easily optimize it for the desktop.

7. Improve the “Time to First Byte” (TTFB) by optimizing the server processing time

The term “Time to First Byte” (TTFB) refers to the time taken by the browser to receive the first byte of data from the server. You can improve the server performance to improve TTFB. Do the following:

  • Use the guidelines provided by server frameworks to optimize the application logic of web servers.
  • Review how the server queries the databases and improve it if needed.
  • Upgrade the server hardware to provide more computational resources.

8. Choose an appropriate hosting plan to boost the performance of your web application

Analyze your web application performance requirements and choose the appropriate web hosting plan. You have the following options:

  • Shared hosting: You share computing resources with other customers. These plans are cheap, however, you might experience performance issues.
  • VPS (Virtual Private Server): VPS plans are faster than shared hosting plans, however, they cost more.
  • Dedicated servers: Dedicated servers are expensive. You can configure them according to your requirements, and they offer high performance.
  • Serverless: These plans offer scalability at a lower cost.

9. Use Gzip compression to reduce the load time of your website

You should activate Gzip compression on your HTTP servers to reduce the load times of your website. This minimizes the size of HTTP responses in many instances. In turn, that improves the page load times.

Many web hosting providers allow you to enable Gzip compression via cPanel. Alternatively, you can contact the hosting provider to implement Gzip compression.

10. Minify JavaScript and CSS files, and then combine them with HTML files into bundles

You can improve web application performance by reducing the number of parallel network requests. Do the following:

  • “Minify”, i.e., optimize the size of JavaScript and CSS files by removing or shortening symbols. Browsers can still these files.
  • Combine different JavaScript and CSS files into a single bundle.
  • Create different bundles by following the above process.

11. Implement asynchronous loading of JavaScript

The term “synchronous loading” refers to loading JavaScript fully before rendering a website. This can cause web application performance issues.

You should implement the asynchronous loading of JavaScript. This involves the browser parsing the webpage even when the JavaScript is being loaded. Asynchronous loading improves the performance of websites.

12. Use necessary plugins only if you build a website using a CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress

Have you built your website using a popular open-source content management system (CMS) like WordPress? CMSs like WordPress have rich ecosystems of themes and plugins. You might use several plugins for different functionalities.

However, plugins can add overheads. They load additional JavaScript and CSS files. A few plugins might also increase the TTFB. Review each plugin you use and assess whether you need them. Remove plugins that you don’t need.

13. Implement website caching

Implementing caching involves a version of files in a temporary storage location to reduce latency and bandwidth consumption. You can use it for web application performance improvement. Consider the following caching techniques:

  • Network caching;
  • HTTP caching;
  • Reverse proxy server caching;
  • Database caching.

14. Use a cloud-based automated tool to monitor the performance of web apps

Web application performance tuning isn’t a one-time activity. You need to monitor the key metrics routinely and take appropriate steps.

Monitoring websites and web apps involve monitoring the application logs, etc. This can be hard work, therefore, you should use a leading Application Performance Monitoring (APM) tool for your custom metrics.

There are multiple tools like Traceview, Sematext APM, etc., that can help you with monitoring web app performance.

15. Optimize web apps to remove performance bottlenecks

Optimize your website or web application to improve its performance. You can do this in various ways, e.g.:

  • Code your application in a way so that it stores fewer data in a session.
  • Prevent the application from running out of memory.
  • Avoid running queries in a loop. Use native SQL queries instead of that.

16. Use appropriate development tools for creating faster web apps

You can make key software engineering decisions for better web application performance, and using the right tools is one of them. Choose the right web development framework. The following frameworks/libraries offer high performance:

Note: Preact.js is a lightweight and faster alternative to React.js.

Read our blog for more details on the top software development tools.

17. Optimize content for a better loading time

Optimize content by choosing the right format to improve your website’s performance.

Do you need the highest resolution with fine details for the images on your website? You should use PNG files then. PNG files have a higher size though. If you can do it with less detailed images, then consider using JPEG files.

Use the vector SVG format for a logo or icon. Consider using a looped video instead of a large GIF.

18. Make fewer API calls to optimize web application performance

If your web application makes multiple API calls to get the data it needs, you won’t see an optimal performance. REST (Representational State Transfer) is the de-facto standard for API development. However, you might need to make multiple REST API calls to get the data you need.

Developers can use GraphQL instead of REST. This emerging API technology helps to get all data in one request. GraphQL prevents over-fetching, which is another limitation of REST.

DevTeam.Space developers have done considerable work over the years to improve web application performance in different projects. A few examples are as follows:

  • Alexander optimized code in the Island Bargains project to improve the performance of the app.
  • Andrey implemented architecture and development-related best practices for optimal app performance in the American South Storage project.
  • Igor improved the performance of the Adventure Aide app by migrating it to a new framework.

Want to improve the performance of your website or web app? Our expert developers can help, contact DevTeam.Space, and one of our account managers will reach out to you.

FAQs on Web Application Performance

1. Which are the top CDNs (Content Delivery Networks)?

At the time of writing, the best content delivery networks are Rackspace CDN, Google Cloud CDN, Akamai, Swarmify, Limelight, Microsoft Azure CDN, Amazon CloudFront, Cloudflare, KeyCDN, StackPath CDN, SoftLayer CDN, Incapsula CDN, CacheFly, and CDN77.

2. Which are the top website and application performance monitoring tools?

At the time of this post, the best web and application performance monitoring tools are Traceview, eG Innovations, Datadog, Sematext APM, ManageEngine Applications Manager, Site24x7, New Relic, AppDynamics, Opsview, Dynatrace, Zenoss, Dell Foglight, and Stackify Retrace.

3. Which are the top open-source web servers?

At the time of writing this guide, the best open-source web servers are Apache HTTP Server, Nginx Web Server, Lighttpd Web Server, Apache Tomcat, Caddy Web Server, OpenLiteSpeed Web Server, Hiawatha Web Server, and Node.js.


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