How to optimize CSS for faster websites

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Don’t know how to boost page loading and reduce latency? These ten tips will teach you the techniques of CSS code optimization for making website load faster.

Did you ever want to optimize your CSS code, but had no idea how it can be done? Then you definitely need to learn these 10 ways of CSS optimization for faster websites.

Why do I need it?

Wonder why having a fast website is so important? There are many reasons to boost loading:

  1. Most people are not ready to wait for web page opening for more than 3 seconds.
  2. Visitors are more likely to come back to websites that load quicker.
  3. Fast websites are ranked better in Google and other search engines.
  4. Having a fast website is a must for efficient SEO strategy.
  5. Fast website gives users a positive first impression and even makes it look more professional.

There are many things you can do to accelerate your website: upgrade the server, increase storage and renew hardware, etc. But there is one more thing many web-masters forget about: the speed of website depends on its source code. Reducing numerous file sizes in CSS stylesheet by even a couple of kilobytes can have a great impact on loading time. Learn the ways to optimize CSS and reduce CSS file size.

1. Deploy image sprites

This is a tried-and-true technique that implies reducing CSS file size and shortening load time. With Image sprites, you can pack images into one big .png file – that will reduce HTTP requests and boost website loading. This is a great option, if you use a lot of icons and graphics in your project.

2. Minify CSS

Compress your CSS file into a new one minimizing white space. There’s no need to perform this task manually: tens of free automatic compressors can be found in the Internet, for example, CSS Minifier.

3. Get rid of unnecessary code

This is a similar task: you can check for redundant or duplicate CSS code with the help of online tools (for example, Unused CSS). The programs will do everything for you.

4. Place CSS at top and JavaScript at bottom

It’s recommended to place CSS stylesheet at the top of the file between <head> </head> tags and move JavaScript to the bottom. Therefore, CSS code will be loaded before the rest content of the page, and loading of JavaScript won’t interfere with visual contents. When users see a page with texts and images instead of white space, they are more willing to wait for complete loading .

5. Split CSS files

If you want to optimize the website for different browsers, try splitting various stylesheets. For instance, you can use IE conditional statements to load another stylesheet (when targeting Internet Explorer 6, for examle). Therefore, IE code won’t be loaded when users access the website via Chrome, and you will lessen CSS file size considerably.

6. Remove whitespace

Extra white space takes a few bites and may add up to loading time in large scale projects.

7. Document the code

Document the code when possible. With the help of CSS comments you can detect useless code in most cases. Adding comments takes space, but they won’t slow loading considerably.

8. Organize the code

This is a rarely used technique, but it actually helps to reduce CSS size greatly and boost pages. The technique is simple: you need to organize CSS code into hierarchical branches ensuring minimal duplication.

9. Avoid CSS Hacks

Do not use CSS hacks in a single stylesheet. Instead, use the above mentioned techniques of CSS splitting and code organization.

10. KISS Technique

Keep it Simple Stupid (KISS) technique is the final result you should come to. Aim to make your code organized, well written, minimally redundant and clean, and you will notice considerable improvement of website loading.

Vadim Kolchev

52 publications

Vadim has graduated from Moscow Institute of Entrepreneurship and Law as finance and credit specialist. Prior to starting to work in hosting business directly, he occupied various roles in several companies, including but not limited to banking sphere and sports. As of 2015 he works for INXY Holding, with SpaceCDN being a vital part of the hosting branch of its business. Being tech enthusiast, he has started writing articles about dedicated servers, CDN, storage solutions and other hosting services long ago, and since then accumulated a lot of experience and knowledge in the field. Building hosting sales and support departments from scratch has added even more experience and knowledge and allowed to see the business from the inside and build required expertise. Now Vadim is CPO and COO of a successful hosting business. Having several important interviews and publications at platforms such as Hosting Journalist and Forbes, he continues to share knowledge about this branch of technology that has become not only his job but also a passion.

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