Like any piece of technology, a web server needs to be tuned for peak performance. While desktop and portable devices continue to improve generation after generation, if the server at the heart of your site is not optimally configured, it may deliver a suboptimal experience to your users.

Server response time is the average amount of time it takes for a server to respond to a browser request. It is a measure of how long it takes to load the necessary HTML to begin rendering the page, which reduces the network latency between your browser and your server. Though not exhaustive, the following are a few key areas of impact to server performance worth assessing.

Website Resource Usage

More efficient web pages use fewer resources allowing the web page to be served up quicker.

Reduce Server Trips

Each thing a page has to do in order for it to render adds overhead. The average page likely loads several stylesheets, scripts, and other resources (like images) from your server. Each trip between the site and the server takes time, and there may be ways to reduce the number of trips. 

Reduce the Page Weight

Fewer resources required to render a page means a faster rendering of that page. Reduce the size and amount of resources required by combining and minifying where possible, and optimizing CSS and JavaScript code by embedding it and running it inline.

Web Server Software

Changing your web server software or configuration may improve server response time. There are many types of web server software, including: Apache, Nginx, and Litespeed. No matter what web server software you are using, it should be optimized for your own needs, which includes the following areas:

  • Enable caching
  • Setup a fast reverse proxy
  • Choose the right application server
  • Fine tune your web server once a month
  • Turn on HTTP/2
  • Defragment your database tables & optimize server settings
  • Fix your DNS query speed
  • Trim down your site’s critical rendering path
  • Disable resource intensive services

Also, if you are using a Content Delivery Network (CDN), verify it is configured properly. When configured to store your files in different locations around the world, a CDN will allow users all over the world to see your pages faster because they are receiving files closer to their physical location.

Website Traffic

The more traffic a website gets, the more server resources are required. A website that is quick on initial deployment may become slow over time as traffic increases. This is why continuing monitoring is pivotal.