Fun fact. Drupal was started in 2001 — two years before WordPress was released. According to W3Techs, this CMS powers 1.1% of all websites, from blogs to e-commerce and government sites, holding a 1.6% market share.
Building a website with Drupal is a good idea. But remember: a poorly optimized Drupal site is vulnerable, has lower response times, and results in database delays. When talking about its performance optimization, the tricks include different architectural changes, modes of caching, and other ways to speed up website load time.
Let’s discuss ways to improve Drupal website speed, ensuring faster loading times and a better visitor experience. In this blog post, we will explain why page speed is crucial, how to measure it, and learn seventeen Drupal caching strategies you can use to improve website performance.
Why is page speed important?
Imagine the situation: you have created a perfect site, made a stunning design, and filled the pages with expert content, but… All your efforts do not bring any results. Oh, you are not alone. This is a common problem for developers and marketers who don't understand how search engines work or don't consider user experience. Both are related to website load time.
The speed of your site plays a crucial role. Google considers page load time as the core ranking parameter. A quality website performance tuning makes it more prominent among the search results. Simply put, this is like a reward for a website that provides Google customers with better performance.
However, is Google ranking an end in itself?
Your main goal and priority should be user experience (UX). If your web pages are sluggish, it can hurt the perception of your brand. Visitors will perceive a company as vulnerable and unreliable. Improving page loading speed is a key to customer satisfaction, which results in more leads and new revenue.
So, the answer to "Why is Drupal website speed important?" is this: higher user satisfaction, greater conversions, and increased sales.
Is Your Drupal Website Fast Enough?
Over time, Drupal has gained many features, such as Drupal's built-in Dynamic Page Cache. Still, building a highly performant and functional website on it can be challenging. You can face the problem of slow website load time while developing and after releasing it. You never know when it will happen or what it will cause for your business.
The right thing to do is to implement Drupal performance optimization, which starts with gauging the current page performance. You can use Google PageSpeed Insights to measure website speed. It is a free Google-supported tool. It provides information about site performance on both desktop and mobile devices. Additionally, the service advises on improving page loading speed.
Keep in mind that regular performance testing keeps your website running smoothly and faster.
17 Ways to Increase Your Drupal Website Performance
Google requires a minimum two-second page load time. For e-commerce and some other sites, its performance should be even faster. If you have yet to reach that goal, 17 caching solutions can help you implement your page speed optimization into life.
We will address general ways to speed up site loading and some specific Drupal tools and modules.
- Keep your Drupal core, modules, and themes updated. Outdated software weighs down the website, making it vulnerable and sluggish in all browsers. Make sure your CSM regularly updates to stay secure and highly-performance.
- Implement a content delivery network (CDN). CDN is a third-party tool that helps to speed up Drupal website performance. It stores different parts of your site, such as CSS, media, etc., on separate servers. CDN companies run data centers across the world, reaching users from the closest location.
- Optimize images. Large images affect page loading speed, making it slow. Use the Image Optimize module to change the compression ratio of images without sacrificing quality.
- Disable unnecessary modules. Every module you enable on your Drupal site adds overhead and increases the execution time of the code. Uninstall unnecessary modules like the Administration Menu, Devel node access, CCK Content Permissions, Module Filter, Forum, Tracker, Statistics, etc.
- Use a lightweight theme. A light theme will use less code and resources, which can improve performance.
- Choose a reliable hosting provider. Using a performance-optimized hosting solution greatly impacts your Drupal website speed. It is better to choose the service that specializes in Drupal.
- Use a PHP accelerator. A PHP accelerator can improve your site's performance by caching compiled PHP code.
- Page caching. This stores a copy of the rendered HTML page in memory so that it can be served directly to users without generating the page dynamically each time.
- Mem caching. Memcache allows you to strug your database load to a minimum by caching database objects in RAM. It can store data in the format as little as a number or as big as a complete HTML page.
- File caching. By using the file caching technique, developers can reduce the number of times that the server needs to read files from disk. This is especially beneficial for file-intensive server workloads.
- Varnish caching. This reverse proxy software can be used to cache static and dynamic content in addition to Redis. It handles many static files and anonymous page views for the website.
- Redis caching. Redis, or Remote Dictionary Server, is an in-memory data structure store that can be used to cache data and code. It can store a database, cache, message broker, and streaming engine.
- Twig caching. Twig caching is a way to improve the performance of Drupal 8 themes by storing compiled Twig templates in memory. This means that the templates do not need to be compiled every time a page is loaded, which can save a significant amount of time.
- BigPipe caching. It is the Drupal 8 module for improving the Drupal website performance by loading pages in parallel. This means that different page parts can be loaded simultaneously, making the page load more quickly.
- Activate fast 404 modules. The Drupal Fast 404 module uses less than 1 MB of memory compared to 60-100 MB of memory to deliver a 404.
- Pay attention to configuring the cron file. Make sure to carefully configure your cron file, which is responsible for running scheduled jobs, such as the search indexer, log clearing, and temporary file clearing.
The above practices for Drupal site speed optimization are easy to put into any website, from implementing a CDN to Twig caching. Even beginners can handle these tips, but we recommend consulting a specialist to get the best result.
Ensuring that your website works correctly and pages load smoothly helps you focus on other sides of your business. For many companies, the website is their “face” and the main communication channel with their customers. Don’t mess it up — be fast and optimize!