Over the past several weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to check quite a few WordPress websites, and what I found with many of them is that their page load times are simply too slow. Many of these sites were taking up to 10 to 15 seconds to load, which is simply unacceptable and exceeds the 1.5 to 2 second maximum load times I consider to be acceptable. When a website takes longer than five seconds to load, the majority of potential visitors will leave. Additionally, Google awards websites with a quick load time with a higher position in search results.
In light of this, I’ve put together a list of five significant changes you can make to your WordPress website to significantly improve performance.
Install a WordPress Caching Plugin
WordPress is a database-driven website system that, in response to visitor requests, dynamically builds pages and the assets that go with them. This differs significantly from how web pages were previously supplied to visitors, when the majority of the material was contained within a single, static HTML file.
This indicates that your WordPress is frequently highly busy finding and putting together all the data and resources needed to put together a requested web page, and further, this may be happening for a large number of website visitors at once. This heavily taxes your server’s resources, slowing down response times and ultimately the pace at which your website is delivered. This is obviously not a good thing, as Google and website users both dislike poor loading times.
This is why I constantly check that the caching plugin is enabled on the WordPress website I develop for my clients because it can increase server performance and page load times by 200–500%, which is extremely useful indeed. This is so that visitors receive a static copy of a web page’s content when they return to the page or if there haven’t been any updates to the pages that call for a full refresh. A good example of a caching plugin is W3 Total Cache. Very brilliant, very straightforward, and very powerful.
Optimize Images for Speed
Any website, as well as the variety of individual pages that make up it, must include images. The inclusion of your photographs, however, might significantly reduce the performance of your website if they are too huge in memory and are not optimised for online delivery. In reality, when I examine the websites of new clients, inadequate image management is among the most frequent causes of underwhelming performance.
A vital piece of advice in this regard is to edit any photos using an image-editing application like Adobe Photoshop, Fireworks, or SnagIt to ensure that they display beautifully online while using up as little memory as possible. Make sure that you also save your images in web-safe formats, mainly .JPEG and .PNG.
Uncompressed image files in the.PNG format show images in a higher quality and with more information than files in the.JPEG format. Therefore, use the.PNG format if the photos you’re displaying must be extremely clear; otherwise, if this is not necessary, use the lossy. JPEG format is recommended since it will lead to lesser image file sizes, which will speed up website loading.
Keep Your WordPress Site Updated
The fact that WordPress is continually being updated and improved by a sizable team of committed developers is one of the things I appreciate about it the most. As with any software programme, you should instal updates as soon as they become available because doing so nearly always leads to better performance as well as access to new cool features and security upgrades.
If you manage your own WordPress website, you are responsible for installing these updates. If you employ a web developer, he or she will typically carry out this task on your behalf. The key takeaway from this situation is that you should always make an effort to maintain your WordPress installation and all of its installed plugins current.
Don’t Upload Videos Directly to WordPress
Another practice that WordPress website owners have is to put videos directly into the media library and then embed them into pages for viewing from that location. This is really poor for performance. I would never suggest doing this. This is due to the fact that hosting your own videos would drastically reduce the performance of those pages and quickly deplete your server’s bandwidth allotment, simply because the video is being loaded rather than streamed.
As a rule, submit your videos to a video streaming service first, like YouTube, and then utilise the embed codes they offer to insert the videos into your web pages as needed. Instead of being served to your visitor directly from your website, this method streams the movie to them. And always leave it to the professionals when it comes to streaming videos, especially YouTube or Vimeo.
Choose a Theme That’s Optimised For Speed
Your WordPress website’s performance will be greatly influenced by the theme you choose, particularly in terms of how quickly your visitors’ pages load. Therefore, even if there are a tonne of gorgeous WordPress themes available, ranging in price from free to up to $100, what you should actually consider is how quickly they load.
The commercial WordPress themes created by StudioPress and Elegant Themes, which are carefully coded and completely optimised for high-speed performance, stand out in my opinion in this regard.