An optimized site means two things: fast loading times and less resources needed. The benefits of having a well-performing website are many but the most important ones are: improved user experience, better ranking in the search engines and last, but not least, lower hosting expenses. Below, I will show you five ways to improve the performance of your WordPress website.
1. Enable gZIP Compression
gZIP is definitely one of my favorite WordPress optimizations – it’s done easily and it has a noticeable impact. You can reduce with more than 50% the size of your text, html, JS, CSS, XML and more files by enabling the gZIP compression for them. This content will be compressed by the server before it is sent to your visitors thus saving a lot of bandwidth and faster delivery. You don’t need a plugin to enable it. Just add these lines to your .htaccess file. The only requirement is that there is Mod Deflate enabled on your web server. However, 99% of the providers will have it running.
Another efficient way to lower the size of your CSS and JS files is to minify. Minifying your content removes all unused empty spaces, comments and empty lines from your files. This way you can lower the size of your files, decreasing the loading speed of your pages. Minifying is simple, there are many online tools like this one that do that for you. In addition, if you have the W3 Total Cache plugin already enabled, you can enable its minifying feature.
3. Optimize and Smush Your Images
The most important thing when adding images to your pages is to use the correct image size. Don’t upload huge images that you’ll resize with HTML later. Even if you display such image in a tiny box it will still take the same loading time.
Another thing that you can improve in your photos is to remove the unnecessary content added to them. For example, when you take a photo with your iPhone, it does save more than just the actual image data. Your camera usually adds information about when the photo was taken, GPS coordinates, what camera was used, etc. A great way to remove all this unnecessary information is to use Smushit.com. This will decrease their size and help them load faster.
4. Enable CDN
Enabling a CDN for your site can greatly improve your site loading speed. Content Delivery Networks work by cloning the static content of your website on all of their nodes around the world. This way, your visitors will load this content from the node closest to them. This assures that your pages will load fast from every location and not only to the ones near your data centre. Some hosting providers provide CDN services as part of their packages but you can always use external ones like CloudFlare or MaxCDN.
5. Enable Dynamic Caching
Configuring your WordPress to use some sort of a dynamic caching is one of the most efficient ways to optimize your site. There are caching solutions that work great for WordPress such as Varnish, Memcached, APC, etc. However, they all require specific services and server configuration which in most cases means that you will have to rely on your hosting provider to have them enabled. In addition, each caching solution must work with your WordPress application.
We at SiteGround, for example have created a special plugin that allows our visitors to enable Varnish with a single click. In addition it automatically clears the cache whenever part of your site is modified. This is why you should talk with your hosting provider about the available caching options you can use.
Site performance is really important and it’s worth spending few hours of your time to make sure your pages are fast. It will benefit both you and your visitors in multiple ways!
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