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The why of website optimisation: Reduce operational costs

This is the second post in a series where I'll outline the benefits that can be derived through website optimisation. Not only will we touch on monetary aspects, but we'll also get into environmental impact, and customer experience.

You can read the other posts in this series using the links below (they'll be at the end of this post too):

  1. Increase conversions (or engagement)​
  2. Reduce operational costs - This post.
  3. Reduce environmental impact​
  4. Improve your search ranking​
  5. Deliver a better user experience​


Now, let's get onto how optimising your site can help you reduce the operational costs associated with having a website.

Use less, pay less.

There are a lot of options for web hosting these days. One of the most popular is to use a pay-as-you-go service like Amazon Web Services. These kinds of hosting services allow you to spin up a website, get it hosted and online, and only pay for the storage and bandwidth that you use.

Let me say that again - you pay for the store and bandwidth that you use.

So, it goes without saying (but let me say it anyway) that the lighter your website then the lower your hosting costs will be.

Don't get tier-bumped

Other web hosting services have set tiers (plans) that you buy into when you want to get your site online. In all cases there are limits on each tier, whether that is how many sites you can have, how many email addresses you get, or even limits on website visits per month. In almost all cases there are also limits on storage, and bandwidth (though this is less common these days). Exceeding these limits could see your website slowed down, temporarily taken offline, or might even see you get automatically billed for excess usage.

Sure, the storage limits you're looking at are often in the 10s of gigabytes, but as your site gets larger you'll fill that up pretty quickly if you're not actively managing your media. Bandwidth limits can be hit much faster, especially if your site gets a sudden surge in traffic.

Can you use the Jamstack?

A lot of the web is still generated dynamically (on request). These are WordPress style websites, that are powered by a CMS database. This database, and the server that it lives on, must be online at all times so that it can be ready to generate and serve web pages whenever someone visits the website.

A lot of the time, though, the web pages being generated by these CMS databases are seldomly updated once they're published. They're written, put into the CMS (saved to the database), and then they just sit there waiting for someone to land on the web page.

Alternately, many of these websites could be built and served using static assets. Any content on the pages that needs to be dynamic can be fetched in real-time using APIs. This approach is known as Jamstack. Jamstack sites can still be powered by CMS platforms, deliver live content updates, accept payments, and even allow for user accounts.

You'll notice that my description of a site built using the Jamstack methodology there was one word missing from the paragraph - database. Jamstack sites remove the costs of requiring an always online database to power them. There is an argument that depending on what CMS or APIs your website might use that cost might just be shifted rather than removed, and that definitely is something to keep in mind when deciding on whether or not the Jamstack is for you.

Would you like to learn more about the Jamstack, and how it could work for your website? I can help you get a better understanding of what's possible, and whether or not it's for you. Contact me directly, or book an obligation-free consultation on Calendly to start the conversation.

What can you optimise to keep size down?

To reduce the total size of your website files, look at the assets that are commonly the heaviest on any website. I'd recommend going in this order:

  1. Videos - Do you need video on your site? Are you serving modern formats like webM?
  2. Images - Are you using the latest image formats (webP, AV1)? If you are using JPEG or PNG, are they compressed and optimised?
  3. JavaScript & CSS - Are you loading any unnecessary files? Are all your files minified? Can you remove unused code from any files?

I've written a few more tips on how you can reduce the size of your website, both for storage and bandwidth consumption.