Imagine this, you visit a website and you wait about 10 seconds and it’s still loading, will you wait some more time or will you bounce back and visit another website? The most common and obvious answer is bouncing back and visiting another website. The same thing happens to your website if it does not load fast enough.
If your website is also built on WordPress and is looking to improve your website speed, you are in luck because you are at the right place!
Here we will discuss all the major factors that affect website speed to slow down and how you can optimize your website to improve your overall website speed and performance to give your website visitors the best user experience possible.
As there are lots to cover, let’s dive right in, shall we?
First things first, you should know the numbers of your WordPress website, what I mean by numbers is the current speed score of your website for you to keep a clear track of your progress when you make the necessary optimizations to your website.
You can use the free tool GTmetrics to get the initial start.
Make sure to keep track of your score along the optimization process to make sure your website score improves with your optimization efforts.
Now that you have the numbers ready, let’s look at the things that make your website load slow and how to fix them.
1. Your Hosting Provider
Your hosting provider plays a major part in your overall WordPress website speed. Most people think it is a good idea to host a WordPress website in shared hosting, but it really affects your website speed as in a shared hosting, several websites just like yours are being hosted and uses the same fixed number of resources making the server slow down and allocate fewer resources to your website.
Luckily, due to the advancements in the web hosting industry, you can now purchase more powerful SEO web hosting servers like cloud hosting for a very low price and almost all web host providers are now offering cloud hosting solutions.
For those who don’t know about cloud hosting, cloud hosting is when your website is hosted on a virtual server than on a physical server making the server more secure, fast, and reliable.
If you want more details on this, you can contact your web host provider and they will be more than happy to provide you with more information.
2. Heavyweight WordPress Themes
If you are using WordPress, you are definitely using a third-party theme. Usually, these themes come with lots of dynamic elements such as website, sliders, animations, widgets, that are sometimes unnecessary for your website but there for attractiveness and will cause your website to slow down.
You have two solutions for this. First, optimize your existing WordPress theme by unloading unused elements other than the required elements.
For example, you have to filter out important elements from the theme such as the elements that make the website responsive on all devices and not unload them.
This requires an average technical knowledge of how themes and WordPress work, if you are not a developer, it would be wise to hire a developer or request your existing developer to make these optimizations. This solution also has a low success rate as some themes have a limitation on customizations.
The second solution is to replace the current theme with a more lightweight theme. This usually takes a bit more time as the website needs to be redesigned according to the new theme but has a much better success rate than optimizing your existing heavyweight theme.
3. Unoptimized Images
The images on your website take up space and resources from your web server like all other things. If these images are not optimized it just take up extra resources than it should if optimized.
You must be thinking, image optimization is simple, you just upload it to an online compressor and it will do the job. But in reality, it is much more as compressing the images will reduce the quality of the images. The goal here is to reduce the size of the images while keeping the quality of the image as high as possible.
Thankfully, there are plenty of free plugins available in WordPress that allows you to bulk optimize your images and some plugins even convert your images into webp (next-gen web image type).
Short Pixel is one of the best image optimization plugins that do this for you to try.
Remember, this plugin is free with some limitations from their premium version. With that said, the free version of this plugin is more than enough more most WordPress Websites.
4. Unused JS and CSS files
As mentioned above, WordPress Website themes tend to have lots of elements such as animations, sliders, etc. All these elements come with a bulk load of CSS files and Java Script’s, which some pages on your website do not require but loads in the background anyways making the website slow.
Inspirenix Web design, a leading web design company in Sri Lanka, recommends contacting your developer or hiring a developer to do this if you have no technical knowledge as there is a chance that you might unload a wrong file and make the whole website not function properly.
5. Not using A CDN (Content Delivery Network)
Your website is usually hosted in a single location server, this will arise the problem of slow content loading speed for visitors that are far from the hosting server as for the distance the content has to travel when requested.
The solution for this is a CDN. A CDN is a content delivery system that allows a copy of your website content to be stored in multiple server locations around the world and server it to the user from the server location nearest to the user making the content load faster on your website.
For example, if your website is hosted in a Singapore server, and a visitor accesses your website from Australia, the content would have to transfer a long way from Singapore to Australia.
But when using a CDN, your content copy will be stored on a server in Australia as well as the rest of the world making the distance of data transfer shorter and making your content load faster. It’s highly recommended to configure CDN in such a way that entire page content including HTML and CSS will be cached (not only heavy files like images and videos). To achieve it you should properly configure Page Rules. Consider hiring professional WordPress developers to configure CDN properly.
6. Not Deleting Unused Plugins
WordPress is a web platform that depends heavily on plugins. While installing and testing out plugins, most WordPress websites are flooded with unused plugins which take up valuable space and send out requests that could save a lot of server resources.
You must be thinking, all I have to do is deactivate all the unused plugins, right? This is a very common mistake I see most website owners do.
Only deactivating your plugins will not do the trick, you have to completely delete them from your plugin library as well. This will remove all the backend scripts and clear the internal cache of the website for those plugins freeing up more space on your website and server.
Improving your website speed has serval benefits such as lower bounce rate and higher search engine rankings. Now that you know how to optimize your WordPress website, you will definitely be able to leverage those benefits as well.
Also, remember to always keep track of your website performance score so that you know that your optimizations efforts are paying off.