1. Switch on SSL on your Squarespace website
Want a quick speed win? Ensure you’re using Squarespace’s SSL option — this means that your site will be delivered through the faster HTTP/2 protocol.
Switch on the accompanying HSTS option too, as this can improve site speed and SEO too.
You can enable SSL and HSTS in really easily in Squarespace by going to Settings > Advanced > SSL.
2. Reduce your Squarespace image sizes
Another easy way to reduce the loading time for your Squarespace site is to keep your image file sizes as small as possible.
You’ll need to strike a balance between file size and image quality (i.e., try to keep the file small without avoid everything becoming pixelated or grainy) — but if you can get this balance right, you’ll enjoy considerably faster loading times.
Here’s some key things you can do to keep image sizes low:
- Keep their width low. Squarespace recommends an image width of between 1500 and 2000 pixels in width, although depending on your template and your images, you might be able to get away with a smaller width. The lower the better, so long as images still look okay.
- Use a free tool such as Tiny Png to reduce the size of any images before you upload them to Squarespace.
- Use JPGs rather than PNGs.
3. Important on Squarespace: Keep scripts to a minimum
It can be difficult to avoid using third party scripts on a Squarespace site.
Tools like Addthis and Sumo, tracking code for online advertising, or bespoke Squarespace plugins can add valuable functionality to your website.
But the trouble is, they can also slow your Squarespace site down considerably.
So it’s worth doing an audit of the scripts you’re currently using — and getting rid of any script that’s not adding value. The less third-party scripts on your Squarespace site, the better.
Now, let’s take a look at fonts.
4. Be smart with web fonts
Web fonts can make a website look really slick, but they can take a while to load.
You can speed things up by using web-safe typefaces (Arial, Times, Georgia and so on).
But if you have to use web fonts (and let’s face it, most of us do):
- consider using a Google Font rather than a Typekit one, as case studies indicate that the former load faster (Squarespace’s web font library consists of both Google and Typekit fonts).
- only use one web font if possible — the more you use, the slower your site will load.
You can choose which fonts to use by going to the Design section of Squarespace.
If you’re using the latest version of the platform, Squarespace 7.1, you’ll then need to click the ‘Fonts’ option, where you’ll be able to set the fonts globally for your site.
If you’re using Squarespace 7.0, you’ll then need to click ‘Site Styles’. Then, go through every style element involving text (headers, body copy, blog titles and so on) to ensure that only the relevant typeface is used on the site.
5. Use the custom thumbnail option for any video embeds
If you’re embedding any videos on your Squarespace site, always choose the ‘use custom thumbnail’ option.
Otherwise, Squarespace has to look up and load content from video services like Youtube or Vimeo, even if a visitor to your site doesn’t play a video. This can result in quite large files having to be downloaded unnecessarily, slowing things down.
(It can also result in third-party cookies being run on your site, which not only slow things down further, but can cause headaches from a GDPR perspective. See our Squarespace GDPR guide for more information on this topic).
6. Consider using AMP on your Squarespace blog posts
Switching ‘AMP’ (Accelerated Mobile Web Pages) on can bring drastic speed improvements to your Squarespace blog posts.
When enabled, this displays extremely fast-loading versions of your posts on mobile devices (so long as they are accessed via a Google search result). You can find out more about AMP here, but it basically works by stripping out non-essential code from a web page and using smart caching to load pages really quickly.
To switch AMP on in Squarespace, go to Settings > Blogging and then tick the AMP checkbox.
Note however that AMP format disables quite a few standard Squarespace blocks, including code blocks and form blocks, so this one won’t be for everyone (particularly site owners that use code blocks to embed adverts on their posts).
Accordingly, it’s worth reading the Squarespace support material on AMP carefully before switching it on.
7. Consider using the AJAX loading of your Squarespace theme
If you are a Squarespace 7.0 user, you may be able to make use of Ajax loading to speed things up a bit.
Ajax loading means that your site will only load the content that’s visible (rather than ALL the content on the page). For example, if a user visits a gallery page, only the visible images will load — for example, the ones above the fold. Any other pictures will load in line with the user’s scrolling, i.e., as they come into view.
Ajax loading is supported in the following Squarespace 7.0 template families:
- Skye – Blog landing page only
To enable it, you go to Design > Site Styles and tick the ‘Enable Ajax Loading’ box.
The only thing to watch out for here is that using Ajax loading on Squarespace can interfere with how third-party scripts function.
So, if your site is particularly reliant on third-party code that you’ve added, you may need to tread carefully here — check any scripts you’ve added are still working properly after enabling Ajax loading.
8. Reduce your DNS lookup time by using a faster provider
The final step you can take to speed up your Squarespace site is to reduce your DNS (Domain Name System) lookup time.
For a technical explanation of DNS lookup time, I’d suggest reading this excellent Cloudflare resource on DNS, but the layman’s explanation is this: it’s basically how long it takes your browser to find out where on the web your domain is located.
The DNS lookup has to be performed before anything from your site can be loaded, so you want it to take as short a time as possible.
Now, some domain name providers — including well-known companies like Godaddy — don’t provide particularly fast DNS lookup times, as this chart from DNSPerf.com makes clear.
So, if you’ve registered a domain with a sluggish DNS provider, you could consider either
- transferring your domain to a company offering faster DNS times
- switching your nameservers to those of a faster DNS provider
All this involves a bit of configuration, but if you have the know-how (or the support of somebody who does), it’s worth investing a bit of time in this.
We recently moved some domains used for Squarespace sites over to Cloudflare, and saw some significant reductions in DNS lookup times. For information on how to do this, you can refer to the Cloudflare section on the Squarespace support site, or Cloudflare’s documentation (scroll down to the ‘miscellaneous vendors’ section and click on the Squarespace link).