Almost every site owner realizes the paramount significance of optimizing website speed; fast loading website plays a critical role in ensuring higher search engine ranking and enhanced user’s experience.
So, if your site runs slowly or you would like your web pages to load even more quickly, then you must find ways to optimize website speed. This post covers some quick fixes that will help you a big time in optimizing WordPress websites speed.
But Before You Start
Of course, before you begin your quest to find ways to improve your site’s speed, you must first measure the current performance of your site. Doing so, will make you know about the areas you should focus on for improving the speed of your WordPress site.
Below are a few tools worth considering in your quest to optimize website speed:
Pingdom: It helps analyze the load time of website pages and help find performance bottlenecks.
GTmetrix: Tells you about how your site performs and assists in optimizing website load time by providing actionable recommendations.
PageSpeed Tools: Helps identify ways that not just helps in making a site load faster, but also make it mobile-friendly.
Quick Fixes to Optimize Your WordPress Website Speed
1. Lay Down a Rock-Solid Foundation
Let’s say you own a boat with a hole in it. In that case you don’t paint your boat, rather you’ll fix its foundation (i.e. repair the hole). The same is the case with your site. You must scrutinize if the foundation of your WordPress site is correct or not. If not, you need to fix it. For this purpose, you need to make sure that your site is not hosted on a sluggish web server, your theme is not bloated and so on.
For ensuring a good foundation, here are some tips you must take into consideration:
Choose A Good Host Service Provider: The hosting plan you’re choosing can have a profound impact on your site’s speed. Moreover, we have a tendency to get lured into opting for a free or cheap hosting package. But, hosting is an area that you shouldn’t take lightly. You must ensure that the hosting service plan perfectly-suit your needs, especially serving a fast-loading website. There are two hosting services made available for WordPress users: shared hosting and managed hosting.
While shared hosting is a cheap and viable option for people only interested in running a WordPress site, it is highly recommended that you must select a managed hosting provider such as WP Engine or others to run WordPress site at blazing fast speed.
Pick The Right Theme: An unfortunate reality is that not all of the WP themes are built with the same perspective. While some contain good code and are performant, a few other themes are bloated making them load slowly. So, if you plan on using a pre-built theme for setting up your WordPress site, make sure to test its speed on tools like Yslow, Pingdom, etc. – to see how quickly it runs.
Utilize The Right Framework: Frameworks helps in creating the basic layout structure on which you make changes to the website appearance and present your content. Basically, it helps in making changes to your site’s look and feel, contributing to improve website load time. After all, using a theme filled with graphics can prevent your site from loading fast. A good framework is essential to ensure good website performance.
For example, the StudioPress (Genesis) framework is an excellent choice when it comes to improving the performance and speed of a WordPress site. If you would have a glimpse of the comprehensive list of frameworks, you’ll definitely find WordPress Frameworks Reviewed: Who’s the Winner? – post quite useful.
Make Use of a Content Delivery Network: A CDN (short for Content Delivery Network) is a must-have for heavy traffic sites with distributed servers worldwide, as they help in making the site load faster by allowing visitors to access website content from a location server in proximity to your site’s servers. Essentially, a CDN cache the site data instead of loading the requested page from the server, which eventually helps in reducing the server lag and will further load the page quicker.
You can find several CDNs on the web. However, MaxCDN happens to be the most popular choice for all other content delivery networks.
2. Get Rid of the Plugins That Are Slowing You Down
Whilst plugins are essential components of a WordPress site, helping you to extend the functionality of the website; they might be the reason that causes your site to slow down. Simply put, often installing too many plugins can make a site run slowly. And so, it’s imperative to check out the performance of all your website plugins. The best way to identify the plugins that might put a negative impact on site’s performance is to use P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler).
Once the P3 plugin is installed on your site, it will first scan the website and brings traffic to it, and then monitor’s the performance of the site on the server. And then, it shows the result that looks something like:
3. Compress Your Website Images
Today, presenting visual content has become the most preferred strategy to generate traffic. This means you tend to add several images to your site’s content to expand your user base. After all, images are an excellent medium that helps improve user engagement thereby encouraging visitors (and customers) to stay a little longer on the site.
But, remember that images are bulky compared to plain text, as they contain extraneous metadata which takes up more space. However, compressing your website images can help cut down the load times of your site. This is where the lazy load technique come in handy. The technique helps in reducing the image size without affecting the image quality.
It makes sure to load a picture only when a user scrolls down the page
You can integrate the lazy load feature into your WP site, by using the premium version of the plugins like Unveil Lazy Load, BJ Lazy Load, Image Lazy Load (Unveil.js) and many others.
What’s more? You can consider using the lossless compression technique provided by EWWW Image Optimizer or Smush.it. According to this technique, the size of the image can be reduced dramatically without any loss in the quality of a picture.
4. Optimize Your Database
WordPress help saves everything automatically, thereby saving you from the worry associated with saving some particular data individually. But, the autosave feature has a downside. It ends up making the website database crowded with hundreds of thousands of post revisions, unapproved comments, pingbacks, etc. Moreover, updating your site frequently make the database grow larger with time. A large-size database filled with unnecessary stuff can significantly impact the performance of your site, and make the pages load slowly.
One excellent solution to optimizing your database is to make use of the WP-Optimize plugin. It helps in cleaning the database’s trash on a routine basis, thereby improving the database efficiency.
Note: Before making any changes or modifications to the database, make sure to create a back up first.
5. Install and Activate a Caching Plugin
Caching is an yet another useful technique to speed up a WordPress site’s load time. This technique, basically, store frequently accessed data temporarily to help users retrieve required piece of information easily and quickly. By making users reuse data from your site prevents from making round trips to fetch requested data from the web. Fortunately, there are a handful of efficient caching plugins online that can help optimize your WordPress site for speed. But, my personal favorite is W3 Total Cache.
The W3 Cache plugin serve as a WordPress Performance Optimization (WPO) framework that is primarily built for improving user experience and website speed. You can measure the popularity of this plugin by considering the fact that it is utilized by niche sites such as mashable.com, AT&T, smashingmagazine.com, css-tricks.com and many others. The plugin helps perform several functions that are crucial for making a WordPress site better in terms of performance. Some of those functions are:
Enable GZIP Compression: The plugin also helps in compressing the code, so as to lessen the bandwidth usage. This obviously reduces load times, since the compressed files load quickly at the browser end.
Enable Browser Caching: Another great benefit of W3TC plugin is that enables browser caching. The browser cache stores most commonly used files on your site on your visitors browser. So, whenever a user requests some already accessed data again, the data gets fetched from the browser cache, thereby reducing HTTP requests.
In the coming years, mobile usage will ultimately overtake desktop usage. With such rise in the use of mobile devices for browsing the web, improving the speed of your WordPress site has become a lot more important than ever before. Users now expect a site to load at blazing fast speed, and so having a site with slower load times will eventually make you lose out to your competitor’s websites (not to mention, the ones with faster page-load time).
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Smushit or TinyPNG, which is better?
Great article, Peter! Thanks!
Regarding image optimization I’m using ShortPixel instead, having better results so far.
This is a great list and covers all the essentials. I have found Photoshop compression is OK but not great. There are better options out there. Given how important image size is to the page speed, you want the best image size possible.
Thank you for the useful methods to make a website really quick. I can also recommend subscribing to the Facebook group which covers effective speed up tools https://www.facebook.com/groups/wordpressspeedup/