White spaces are a classic example of things that can be removed from the source code of a file during minification. Web programmers format their programs by adding blank lines or spaces in the code for easier readability of the code. These white spaces mean nothing to browsers and search engines and are ignored by them. Many developers do not realize that even these white spaces add to the file size and removing these from the source code would considerably reduce the file size. Minification removes these and any such things in a code that are meaningless for browsers and search engines.
Don’t we all hate it when we have to wait for a web page to load? This impatience is even more so while accessing the web on mobiles or other hand-held devices. Even search engines have now recognized the need for fast loading pages. Page load time is a factor search engines give a lot of importance to while deciding where to rank a web page for a keyword. Minification is one way web developers can improve page load time.
Minification vs. compression
Conceptually, minification is similar to compression of a file in that it is aimed at reducing the weight or size of the file. The main difference between minification of source code and compression is that when files are compressed, they need to be decompressed before they can be opened. There is no need for any decompression when the source code is minified because what the elements that are removed from the source code during minification are unnecessary for browsers or search engines while accessing and reading the contents of the file.
What can be minified?
Tools to Minify Source Code
Closure Compiler is a minification tool released by Google. The tool also has the ability to remove dead code, do aggressive naming and function inlining.
Other tools commonly used for minifying source code include Microsoft Ajax Minifier, Yahoo! YUI Compressor and Pretty Diff that have the ability to minify the source code of CSS files.
Five Benefits of minifying source code
There are many benefits of minifying source code.
Minification reduces file transfers
The main purpose of minification is to reduce the size of the files that are minified. Depending on the original size of the file being minified, it can reduce the file size to a minimal to significant level. The extent to which the file size can be reduced also depends on how much scope for minification exists in the source code.
Faster page load time
Larger files take longer to travel over the internet than smaller files. Since minification reduces the size of the file sizes, it results in faster page load times. It also means that lesser bandwidth is used during the transfer of a minified file — both at the server and the client end.
Better user experience
Faster page load time means better user experience because no one likes to wait for pages to load while browsing. This can only have a positive impact on the impression your website creates on its visitors.
Better organic search performance
With search engines preferring fast loading websites and promoting websites that visitors tend to like, the combination of faster page load time and better user experience will help your website perform well in search results.
Less server space needed
Especially for extremely large websites, minification can mean that you need lesser server space and bandwidth.
There are many reasons to minify source code, and really no reason not to. In a competitive world, every edge that you can give your website adds up. A good and professional web design company would make sure that you get the maximum from your website.
Professional Web Design Services from Flying Cow Design
Flying Cow Design has a track record of over 20 years of professional web design. What differentiates us from most web design companies is that our focus is not only on web design, but on building a strong online presence for our clients. Understanding the changing web development standards and search engine guidelines has helped us build a strong web presence for many of our clients through a combination of our web design and internet marketing services. To see how we can help you build a strong web presence, write to us today!
CEO, Flying Cow Design
Attended University of Auckland
Lives in San Francisco Bay Area