Website performance has become more important than ever in recent years. Providing a fast online experience is one of the best ways to retain website visitors, which in turn can lead to more conversions and sales. On the other hand, having a slow or non-mobile friendly website will result in a higher bounce rate and potential loss of sales. In this article, we’ll cover how to improve WordPress performance for speed.
Step 1: Establish your website’s baseline metrics
The first step to improving your website’s online speed is to locate your performance pain points. There are many online tools that can run a quick and free diagnostic. We suggest trying:
The best place to start when running any site speed diagnostics is your home page. Just as you wouldn’t want your restaurant business to be dirty and have bad food, you wouldn’t want a slow or unresponsive home page. Making sure the first thing a web visitor sees is great is the best way to deter visitors from ever navigating to the rest of your website.
Aside from page load times, the size of the page being loaded is the largest factor when it comes to how quickly your website loads. Everything on your website contributes to the total page size — text, images and video, of course, and even fonts and scripts. A slow page will result in longer load times, meaning visitors will be forced to wait to interact with your site’s content. If your web page is larger than 3 MB (3,000 KB) there is likely room for improvement.
Now that you have run the numbers, record the results and keep the numbers handy for comparing which of the suggestions below work and how much of an impact it had.
Step 2: Optimize your images for the web
Most often, the main reason for slow web pages are un-optimized images. Most people see and find a great image they want to add to their website, upload it, and paste it on the page, without an inkling towards how much computer memory that image takes up. While good imagery is important in making your website both visually appealing and relevant to the content that is being shared, failure to properly optimize your images can mean that perfect stock image you spent 30 minutes searching for is doing more harm than good.
What does it mean to “optimize an image”? Generally, it is compressing an image to maintain the highest level of resolution possible while reducing the memory space the image takes up and the image dimensions. Don’t serve images that are too large in dimension. When using the WordPress media manager, make sure you select the proper image size before embedding it into a page or post. No need for a thumbnail to be 1,200 pixels wide and shrunk down to 150 pixels. Using the right type of image is also important. Most photographs, personal profile pictures, and detailed landscape images should be JPG. Images such as logos and graphics and images that have some type of transparency involved need to be ideally PNG’s or SVG’s.
The file size of an image can be greatly reduced by saving the image at a lower quality or compressing it properly. Before uploading your images to your website, run them through a tool like tinypng.com.
Step 3: Delete WordPress plugins you don’t need
WordPress plugins are a great way to add new features to your website. However, far too often they are overused or left activated when not actually being used. Getting your plugins under control is a great way to improve site performance. Deactivate and remove unused plugins. Leaving a plugin activated likely means it is loading assets onto your site in the form of style sheets and scripts. Make a habit of doing monthly site audits and t
Step 4: Set up caches
Caching is one of the best ways to see huge impacts on site performance. Without caching, WordPress requires assets and content to be sent back and forth from the database every time a page is rendered. With caching enabled, static versions of your pages stored locally on your users computer are created and served to the user instead. These static versions load substantially faster than the normal process. There are many free, easy to use WordPress caching plugins.
Step 5: Upgrade your hosting server if needed
Your website hosting plan plays a very important role in overall website performance. No matter how much effort you put into optimizing your site, if your website hosting plan is low-tier, it won’t matter. when it comes to hosting: You get what you pay for. A good server can not only increase load times out of the box, there are many server configurations that can be enabled to further see performance boosts. Ask your hosting provider about the following features for an added speed boost.
Step 6: Continuously optimize
Optimization will never be a one-click process. Good site performance is an accumulation of good practice, due diligence, the right hardware and proper configuration.
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind: By optimizing your site performance, you are minimizing the number of visitors who’ll become impatient and decide not to wait around — and in this scenario, every fraction of a second counts.
If these six tips helped and you would like more, leave a comment below and share with your fellow WordPress users.