The success of any online business mainly depends on the enhanced experience provided to the customers. It is one of the strongest factors that help in improving the conversion rate of any website.
A proven way to improve the experience of users is by increasing the loading speed of your website pages. On the contrary, having a slow loading time can make your visitors lose interest and compel them to leave your site. Thus, keeping the load time to a maximum of two seconds is the ideal way to convert your audience into customers.
So, how to increase your page load time? You can improve both your page loading time and site performance by minifying the CSS and JS files, i.e., by getting rid of unnecessary source code of comments, white spaces, block delimiters, line breaks, and characters. It will help in producing compact data and optimizing the file size that can eventually lead to faster site loading. Overall, the improved performance and site loading speed would attract visitors and bring more organic traffic.
Minifying CSS: The Concept
CSS contains characters that improve the source code’s readability but plays no role during file execution. Hence, if you eliminate them, the size of the source file decreases, and the code volume is consequently reduced when transferred online. Apart from that, your site users can get optimum experience due to the faster loading of webpages.
How Compression Differs from Minification?
Compression also reduces the file size but is a bit different from minification. CSS minification doesn’t modify the code, and the user’s browser would process the minified source file just like the original one. However, once the process gets over, you will get a new file with .min tagged in the middle of the file name before the .css extension.
During compression, the size of your source file gets reduced through the replacement of repetitive strings with pointers to the string’s first instance. It is because the pointers occupy less space as compared to the text or strings. After that, the file is zipped in the server and is again unzipped by the user’s browser. Therefore, the difference between minification & compression lies in the underlying technique being used.
Advantages of Minifying CSS and JS
The prime advantage for minifying CSS and JS is to increase page speed. However, there are other benefits that you can enjoy when you optimize CSS and JS. Some of these are discussed below.
1) Better Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
If your webpage loads faster, then the search engine would rank your site better. It would make it appear frequently for relevant organic search results. The google trends also indicate that if your site takes 3+ seconds for loading, then 53% of the visitors will leave your site rather than wait for it to load. Thus, minifying CSS optimizes your site for search engines.
2) Optimum Accessibility even on Older Devices & Browsers
Since older mobile devices and browsers can’t cache properly and render speedily, your site with the complete source file would take longer to load. Also, sites with unminified source use more bandwidth of users. Therefore, by minifying source files, you can make your site more accessible and user-friendly.
3) Performance of Site is Optimized
Minifying your site will make it faster and optimize the performance of your site across all devices and browsers. As the credibility of your brand improves, lead conversion rates will also become better. Hence, users will become more confident in using and recommending your site.
How to check the website load speed?
Before minifying JS or CSS, you should know the current load time of your website by using webpage analysis tools. Some of the tools you can use for free are Google PageSpeed Insights or Pingdom. The PageSpeed score would offer information about your site’s load time, page size, and request numbers. Usually, the page load time is directly proportional to request numbers and page size, hence, you need to reduce them. After CSS and JS optimization, again check your site’s PageSpeed scores.
Methods to Minify CSS and JS
The methods to minify CSS and JS will depend upon where they belong,i.e., whether to a CMS site, static HTML site, or another platform.
There are three different ways of minification. You can carry out the process by either using plugins for minifying, use online websites, or do it manually. Let’s go through the concept in detail.
Online Minification Method
CSS Minifying Online Tools
Generally, a particular coding framework, such as PHP, .Net, Java, HTML, etc. are used to build websites that can be hosted on a platform. Therefore, in that case, you can use independent tools that can minify CSS irrespective of the underlying framework in any site.
A few of the popular online CSS minification websites are
CSScompressor automatically identifies and removes the older CSS scripts that modern webpages won’t use. Based on CSS legibility needs, you can compress the file up to 4 levels. Besides, during the CSS optimization process, you will also get to know the reduced byte size.
On the other hand, Cssminifier can minify a CSS file or string with no side effects. Here, you need to copy-paste your CSS code that needs to be minified. After its done, you can copy the output code or download it.
Other online CSS minification tools include:
- Minify CSS
- CSS Minifier
- Uglify JS3
- YUI Compressor
Few more Offline Tools for Compressing
Tools recommended by Google
- For minifying HTML, try HTMLMinifier
- For minifying CSS, try CSSNano and csso.
If you are using Apache or Nginx web server, then try using the PageSpeed Module.
Most websites are built with the reputed CMS platforms like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc. whose special purpose plugin can be used for minifying CSS.
There are many types of plugins but the most popular ones are discussed below.
With Autoptimize, you can compress and aggregate script files for making your webpage lightweight. Rated 4.6, it has been installed 0.5 million+ times. Its user interface is simple, and setting options are easy to use.
(ii) WP Super Minify
In this plugin, you can minify and combine multiple CSS files. The compression of CSS files is at your discretion. You can view the file size before and after minification to learn the number of bytes saved. Rated 3.9, it has been installed 20,000+ times.
(iii) W3 Total Cache
With the help of W3 Total Cache, you can minify JS, CSS, and HTML to increase your site’s PageSpeed score. After installing the plugin, activate it and navigate to the ‘General Settings’ tab for using ‘Minify’ settings. Then, tick the ‘Minify Enable’ setting and click on the ‘Save All Settings’ option. Once it is done, clear all cache.
(iv) WP Fastest Cache
You can minify CSS, HTML, and JS together by using the WP Fastest Cache plugin and can undertake browser caching. It is one of the popular WordPress plugins for minification.
(i) JCH Optimize
By using JCH Optimize, you can aggregate and compress CSS files for minimizing HTTP requests. Besides, you can also facilitate gzip compression, which will considerably help in decreasing the site’s load time.
(i) Advanced Aggregates Minify CSS
It is a 3rd party minifier that helps in compressing CSS source codes. Here, you can make use of the GitHub YUI compressor for stripping CSS of all whitespaces and unwanted comments.
You can manually minify CSS, but code management can be complex, and errors might creep in. In this process, you have to go through the manual removal of comments, line breaks, whitespaces, unwanted characters, and block delimiters.
Quick Tips for Optimum Minification
- Always backup your CSS code files
- Be alert while copy-pasting the code
- Use a tool that facilitates aggregation of all CSS files of the site in one
- For troubleshooting, use the original source files
- Use PageSpeed tools of Google for checking site performance after minification
Today, it has become a necessity for every website owner to learn new tactics for optimizing their site. Thus, keeping the above concepts in mind will not only boost your loading speed but will also help in decreasing the bounce rate and improving website visibility. The best part is you don’t have to be a technical expert to make it happen. You just need to make the correct use of tools and web host. Minifying the files with the above-discussed techniques will enhance your user’s browsing experience by optimizing your site. Hence, choose from online, manual, or plugin minification methods based on your convenience or needs, and your site’s performance is bound to improve.