Aside from a website’s aesthetics and usability, one of the major factors that contribute to a remarkable user experience is website speed. Having a fast page loading time allows users to access your content much faster and therefore reducing the bounce rate. You don’t want to lose a potential customer of your e-commerce site or a prospective reader of your blog just because your site takes minutes to load, right?
The internet is a fast-paced environment where people don’t have much time to wait. They go to the internet to get the information they need as quickly as possible so there really is no room for slow, sluggish websites. As a matter of fact, Google recommends having your site fully loaded in at most 3 seconds. Speed is also an important measure for your website to rank on the first page of the Google search engine results page.
However, there is always a solution for this. In this article, we listed down 10 tested and proven tricks for you to boost the speed and optimize your WordPress website.
Reduce Initial Server Response Time
Websites developed with Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress tend to be slower than pure, hardcoded HTML websites. This is because the server would have to execute the PHP code and fetch files from the database to render the contents of your website correctly. This process usually causes load time delays because it requires more server resources than a regular HTML website.
To improve server response times, define the key conceptual tasks that your server must perform in order to return page content, and then time each of these tasks. If you’ve determined which jobs are the most time-consuming, look for ways to make them go faster.
If your website audit report shows that your website is taking much time connecting and delivering information from the server, then you probably need to upgrade to a hosting plan that provides you with faster or more CPUs. If your finances allow, speak to your hosting company or a developer about resource use and whether you can update the hardware specs of the origin node.
Install A Caching Plugin
When it comes to website optimization, the importance of caching in WordPress cannot be understated. Caching can dramatically boost the speed of your website by up to 500%.
Since WordPress websites are dynamic, they are loaded on demand by a web browser every time a user visits a certain page. This process includes finding the required information on the server, assembling it all together, and once completed, it will finally be displayed to the user on-screen. As it involves a lot of steps, it inevitably contributes to the slow loading speed of a website.
With a caching plugin enabled, your browser will create and save a static version of your website pages on the first load, so the next time a user goes to your website again, it will render the saved content right away without the need to send queries to and from your database, thus speeding up the loading time.
Popular WordPress Caching Plugins like WP Super Cache, W3 Total Cache, and WP Fastest Cache are readily available to install from the WordPress plugins menu that allow fast and easy configuration. You’ll be able to set up caching for your website in seconds!
Use A Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A CDN, in essence, offers alternate repositories for downloading website services that have been processed. When a user requests a page on the website, the services stored on the CDN are provided by the server that is closest to the user’s geographic area. When you use a CDN, a website’s static files are served from whichever server is nearest to the user anytime they visit your website. Since the CDN is now responsible for delivering the files, it will take a huge load off your own web hosting server, improving its speed as well.
Since a large portion of a web page’s load time is spent accessing and copying static components and assets like photos, scripts, and stylesheets, it’s easy to understand that a CDN will help your website work better. There are a lot of free CDN service providers out there like Cloudflare, but if you are serious about improving your site performance especially when your website contains a lot of files, a paid CDN is the way to go.
Optimize Image Sizes and Formats
The thing is, you don’t need a 300 ppi resolution for your website images. A high resolution image is only required in print materials but when it comes to website display, a 72 ppi image resolution is more optimal. High resolution images have larger file sizes and using it for your website is one of the common WordPress mistakes. So when the time comes that they are fetched from the server, they tend to load slower.
This is why before uploading original quality images to your website, it is highly recommended that your photos undergo optimization first for web display. You can use Photoshop to compress the size of your images or install an image optimization WordPress plugin that allows you to shrink your images to the recommended size.
Aside from the popular JPEG and PNG formats, you can also consider serving your images in next-gen formats. JPEG 2000, JPEG XR, and WebP are file formats that outperform their older JPEG and PNG counterparts in terms of compression and resolution. Your files can load quicker and use fewer cellular bandwidth if you encode them in these formats rather than JPEG or PNG. WebP is a lossy and lossless compression format for images on the web that is supported by Chrome and Opera.
Just Embed Your Audios And Videos
If your website contains videos or audio files, directly uploading them to your WordPress media library is definitely a no-no. This causes your files to automatically be displayed in an HTML 5 player on the frontend and hosting it directly from your WordPress database will use a lot of bandwidth. Hosting large media assets also increases the size of your backups, making it more challenging to retrieve WordPress from backup.
To avoid this, you should consider making use of video and audio streaming websites instead like Youtube, DailyMotion, Vimeo, or SoundCloud instead. Since your media assets are now hosted on Youtube’s server, for example, it reduces the need to consume bandwidth on your website’s server to play it. Since WordPress has a built-in video embed function, you can simply copy and paste the URL of your video into your website’s page, and it will automatically be embedded.
Do Not Preload Below The Fold Media Files
The disadvantage of preloading all media files, including the ones that are below the fold, is that it often affects your website’s loading speed. By enabling lazy load for videos and photos, you instruct users’ browsers not to pre-load any photo or video until it is required. This should have a considerable effect on the user interface, and if you host a lot of videos and images on your website, it can significantly improve its performance.
Lazy loading renders only the photos and videos that are above the fold, rather than all of them all at once, together with those from other parts of the webpage that are still hidden. As the user scrolls down to the rest of the page or moves to another one, that’s the only time where the media files are downloaded and displayed. There are a lot of WordPress lazy loading plugins that allow photos, videos, gravatars, icons, and even WordPress comments to be loaded lazily.
Avoid Using Slow, Outdated Plugins
Some WordPress plugins are badly written, containing unnecessary codes. These can cause your site to load slowly so it is advised that you only install plugins from reputable sources. If you’re going to use a free plugin, make sure it has a lot of users and good feedback. You should also check the number of websites using the plugin. This will tell you about its credibility. Also, if there are many users of the plugin, it is more likely that the developer will keep on updating it. A constantly updated plugin ensures that bugs are fixed and the codes are simplified and cleaned.
Also, avoid using too many plugins as it is also a major contributor to your website’s slow speed. The issues created by plugins can vary based on which plugins you have activated, how they are programmed, which ones are working, and other factors. More codes are added to the backend for each plugin that you install to your site. That means more code to process, and the more there is to process, the slower your loading time will be.
A simple rule is to never have more than 20 plugins. If your platform is hosted on shared or low-cost cloud storage, limit the number of plugins to no more than five.
Use A Fast, Lightweight WordPress Theme
The truth of the matter is, you will have to use a WordPress theme that is completely tailored for speed if you want your website to load quickly and rank first in search engine rankings. When choosing a theme for your website, do some research and pay particular attention to its page speed score, fully loaded time, total page size, and the number of HTTP requests needed.
That is why it is important that you only choose from trusted WordPress theme stores like Fuel Themes that offer stunning themes that are coded efficiently and are optimized for maximum site performance. Fuel Themes have a wide array of WordPress themes for your blog, portfolio, or a company website and WooCommerce themes for a speedy and user-friendly online store.