Why performance and page speed matter

Performance matters to your users and your customers. It affects your user experience, it affects your sales and conversions, it affects your search ranking.

Speed affects…

Speed impacts search ranking, mobile visitor happiness, conversion, page views, visit length, bounce rate, and many more things… Take your pick!


If your site makes € 1000 per day, a 1-second improvement in page speed brings €70 extra daily.

Sales Lifecycle

79% of customers who report dissatisfaction with website performance are less likely to buy from that same site again.

Customer Experience

47% of customers expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less.

The basics of web performance

To have a fast-loading website, every page needs to be delivered to the browser as fast as possible. When the browser has received the data, it needs to be able to use this data as fast as possible. These are the key elements of web performance.

Response time

The browser needs to get the HTML. Rendering can not start before the browser has the HTML and knows what to do next. This is why the response time of the first request is critical for performance. The hosting and code of your website is what impacts the server response time.

Transfer time

The HTML, images, and other elements on the webpage need to be transferred from the server to the browser. The distance and the total size of all the assets are what impact the transfer time.

Render time

When the browser has received the HTML and elements, it has to interpret the code and then make the visual presentation of the webpage. The complexity of the HTML, scripts, and stylesheets, and the amount of other assets, is what determines how fast it is possible to do this.

The example of a single-page load

User clicks on a link

The user clicks on a link, and the browser checks the IP of the domain in DNS, and then sends the request for the page to the server. If the link uses SSL, the client and server negotiate a secure link before the request is completed.

Server makes the page

The server receives the request and runs the code of your website. The website queries the database and file system for all the required bits and pieces and compiles the HTML page.

HTML is sent to the browser

When the HTML is made, the server sends it back to the browser over the internet.

The browser requests assets

The browser receives the HTML, reads the code, and figures out it needs many more assets. The assets can come from the same server, or other servers that require new DNS lookups and SSL connections.

The browser renders the page

While still collecting the assets, the browser starts putting together html, stylesheets, fonts, images and scripts piece by piece.

Display the first version

When the browser has received and put together the part of the page that will be visible, it makes the first contentful paint and displays it. Because the page is not finished loading, the user can not interact with the page yet.

Make it ready for interaction

More of the page needs to be put together before the user can start interacting, clicking or scrolling.

Page is ready to use

When all assets have completed loading and all scripts have completed their setup tasks, the page is finally ready to use.

Less is more for web performance

The simplest way to make a fast-performing website is to reduce the amount of work that needs to be done. This is true for response time, transfer time, and render time. It makes the server work faster, the network transfers the webpage faster, and the client renders the page faster.

The reward for implementing the philosophical concept of less is more, in addition to making it faster, is that it will be easier to maintain, less prone to errors, and more secure. It will likely make your site so fast that you do not need to spend any additional time optimizing it. It will be fast by default.

So, what does this mean in the context of web performance?

Server response time

The response time of HTML, or the time to first byte, is what has the single largest impact on the user experience. If this first request is slow, all other steps in viewing the web page will be delayed.

There are two options for challenging the response time. You can either make the server do the same amount of work faster, or you can reduce the amount of work that needs to be done.

The workload can be reduced by reducing the complexity, making fewer databse requests, and increasing code quality. Server speed can be increased by changing to faster hosting or by optimizing the existing hosting stack. Adding more servers will not make it faster.

Network transfer time

The time it takes to transport something from A to B depends on two things—the amount of data and the distance it needs to travel.

Think of internet packages as a DHL delivery lorry. If the packages are more than what can fit in the lorry, it has to ride another round trip for the remaining packages.

Packages will arrive fast if delivery is just down the road, and delivery will be even faster if everything can be transported in one go. Transport will take much longer if the delivery is in a neighboring city and even longer if it has to be ridden multiple times.

So, to speed up a web page, you need to make sure to make as few packages as possible and make sure that the distance from the average website visitor to the server is as short as possible.

Browser render time

The time it takes to render a page is defined by the quality and complexity of the code that needs to be interpreted, the number of elements and their size, and the speed of the device that runs the browser.

The speed of devices varies a lot and is not something we can change.  To make render time faster, the workload must be reduced for the browser. The less work the browser has to do, the faster it will render.

A webpage becomes fast when the HTML, CSS, and scripts are bug, error, and warning-free. Error-free code will also render nicer and more consistent across different devices.

To further reduce the workload, unused assets should be removed, and the size of others must be reduced.

Start making sites Performance First

Learn more
The Core Web Performance Pain

Computers can perform millions of operations per second, but it’s the people designing websites that hinder performance.

The Performance First Workflow

Performance First is a workflow that is designed to address the core web performance problem. The workflow gives any person working with a website a set of tools to make the right decisions in favor of web performance while building a website.

Scalability versus performance

The concepts of scalability and performance can easily be explained using cars as an example. A car to get as fast as possible from A to B. If you own a Toyota Yaris, you will not get any faster from A to B if you buy one more. Buying one more Toyota – is what we call scalability. It will only make it possible for you to get from A to B with more people. But if you want to get from A to B faster, you should sell the Toyota and replace it with a Tesla – that’s performance.


Scaling is the term we use for the ability of a website to handle more visitors at the same time, also referred to as concurrency. This means that there is a difference between serving ten visitors at the same time and serving a hundred or thousand.

The scalability of a website is determined by how many resources it uses and the amount of resources that are available.

An interesting thing to note is that the ability to scale usually comes at the cost of performance. This means that you can expect the speed of your website to decrease if you want to increase the number of visitors you are able to serve at the same time.


Performance is the term we use to explain the time it takes for a webpage to display. The speed of a website is the time it takes for you to click on a link until the page displays and is ready for you to navigate and use.

There are a whole lot of technical metrics that relate that are used to describe and measure speed, such as time to first byte (TTFB), First Paint, First Meaningful Paint, Time to Interactive, and tens, if not hundreds more.

How’s your website performing? Find out now. Our experts will run a performance audit and help you find anything that’s slowing your site down.

Get a performance review

What is slow, and what is fast?

  • Use modern hardware

    Modern hardware uses less power, is more environmentally friendly, and performs faster.

  • Use fast CPUs

    The CPU, with its clock frequency, is essential for performance. When the server delivers a web page, it can only use a single CPU core. Therefore the speed of the CPU core is important. If you have multiple cores, they will be used to serve different page views and run additional server services.

  • Fast databases

    The speed of databases is one of the most common reasons for holding real-time performance back. The web page cannot be delivered to the visitor before database queries are finished processing. Therefore, the speed at which this happens is essential. The speed of databases can be measured in database queries per second.

  • Use newer versions of PHP

    Be technology-forward and use the latest versions of PHP. PHP usually accounts for the largest amount of a web page’s time to the first byte. Newer versions of PHP 8 are a lot faster than its predecessors, so upgrading to newer versions is a very effective way to make a website faster.

  • Use an optimized hosting stack

    Standard hosting stacks are available in operating systems, and they are generally configured for general workloads. An optimized hosting stack does the same amount of work much faster and better. This is hard to do yourself, and you might want to look into providers that deliver managed hosting.

  • Host your site on a single server unless you need to scale

    Single-computer setups are generally faster than multi-computer or cluster setups. In addition, the cost of maintaining, updating, and operating a multi-machine hosting setup is high. Cluster setups also make deployment and work for developers inherently harder.

  • Virtual servers (VPS)

    Virtualization is a technique used to split up one computer into multiple smaller virtual computers. This process has an overhead compared to running a system without virtualization on a “bare metal” server.

  • Use fewer plugins

    Using as few WordPress plugins as possible is an effective way to maintain a fast website. Plugins are made of PHP code and add functionality and database queries. When the number of plugins increases, the speed of your website goes down. More plugins also mean more bugs and potentially more security holes.

  • Use a fast theme

    Poorly coded themes are the most common reason for slow web performance. The most flexible themes with the most configurations and options are often also the slowest.

  • Don’t make external http requests in realtime

    External network requests are always slow compared to local requests to the file system. Make sure that public web pages do not query external resources in real time before delivering the web page to a visitor. External requests are best made asynchronously using Javascript.

  • Resolve all known code bugs

    Webservers log errors to an error log for a reason. For a webserver, handling errors, warnings, and notices takes extra resources. Bugs are logged because they should be fixed. A clean log file with few errors will also make it faster to solve real problems when they happen.

  • Missing files (404 requests)

    They may seem unimportant, but requests for assets that don’t exist take up a lot of resources. 404 requests can not be cached, meaning the server will have to run code every time a 404 is requested instead of delivering an asset directly from the cache. These resources are better used for scaling.

  • Compress images for web use

    Oversized images take a long time to load, especially for visitors on mobile devices and slow networks. Images should be correctly sized and compressed, and doing so will improve the overall user experience.

  • Use fewer network roundtrips

    Keep the size of your website and the number of assets to a minimum. They all have to be transported from the server to the visitor, and the fewer network roundtrips (RTT) that are necessary, the faster the page will load for the visitor.

  • Host on a server in close proximity to your site’s visitors

    The time it takes to download something from a server increases exponentially with the distance to the server. Host your website on the same continent as the majority of your visitors.

  • Use a CDN if visitors are spread out over very large geographical areas

    Content Delivery Networks can shorten the network distance for visitors to your website and, therefore, make it load faster.

  • Use as little JavaScript as possible

    JavaScript accounts for a large amount of what makes web pages slow on the visitor’s devices. Reducing the amount of JavaScript will always result in faster loading and a faster time to interactive.

  • Serve JavaScript from your own domain

    Many scripts make external requests. This adds additional DNS lookups and connections to other servers. The connection to your server is open and ready to use and will serve the scripts much faster than forcing the browser to make external requests.

  • Avoid JavaScript libraries

    Libraries like jQuery are slow by design, and add a lot of additional weight to a webpage. Writing vanilla JavaScript will speed your website up considerably.

  • Avoid redirects

    Every redirect adds an extra network roundtrip for the visitor. Even though a redirect is trivial, like redirecting from /path-to-my-page to /path-to-my-page/ – that roundtrip can be saved by linking directly to the latter.

  • Get rid of unused code

    Loading code that is not used takes time and resources. Keeping the amount of bloat to a minimum will increase the performance of your webpage.

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The sliders will automatically optimize for the most affordable plan that fits your needs.

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For small and growing enterprises


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From €699/mo

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Power your business growth

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See more in our Help Center

Learn more
  • Does more memory (RAM) make my site faster?

    The amount of memory does not affect the speed of your website.

    If your website does not have enough RAM, “out of memory,” errors will be logged in the server’s error logs, and the visitor to a web page that exhausts RAM will get a 500 error or the white screen of death. Adding more RAM does not affect how fast your webpage loads.

  • Does the number of CPU cores (or vCores) affect my site’s speed?

    The number of cores does not affect the speed of your website as long as there are free cores available to handle requests. If the number of cores is the performance bottleneck, you will experience that your website gets temporarily slower.

  • Does the CPU speed (Ghz) speed affect my site’s speed?

    Yes. The CPU Ghz determines how many calculations the processor can do per second. A CPU that can do more computations per second will deliver your website at a faster speed.

    It’s worth noting that this is not necessarily true across different computers because the speed of a computer is determined by how fast the computer works as a whole system (motherboard, memory, processor, and storage).

  • Will spreading my website to run over more servers makes my site faster?

    No, quite the contrary. If you split up your website to run across more servers (like Google Cloud or AWS Cloud), you can expect your website to run slower. More servers may increase your site’s ability to scale, but it will not make it faster.

  • Does a faster internet connection make my website faster?

    No. The only exception is if the bandwidth of the network connection is the bottleneck. A normal webpage does not need more than 10Mbit to be delivered at maximum speed over the network.

    If you’ve already upgraded from a trial Bolt to a subscription and you need to add more storage, check out this Help article for more information about that.

Add tools to boost your performance

Need even more performance? Supercharge your site with add-ons that will take your business to the next level.

Servebolt CDN

Free 100 GB CDN bandwidth (Extra bandwidth – €5 per 100 GB/mo)

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Get a 98% improvement in website performance with our Enterprise-grade CDN for FREE. How’s that possible? That’s the magic of Servebolt’s CDN Edge Caching. It delivers your webpages to your visitors faster, reduces server requests, and dramatically improves your TTFB.

Accelerated Domains

From €249/mo

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Accomplish extraordinary performance, security, and scalability milestones. Accelerated Domains is an easy set-and-forget fully managed service that will allow your sites to unlock their performance potential fully in the most sustainable way.



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Servebolt is a certified Cloudflare Enterprise Partner and reseller of Cloudflare services. We are also a Cloudflare Optimized Partner. Learn how to benefit from Cloudflare to make your/client’s websites faster and more secure.