Speed up WordPress with these useful tips
Table of Contents
Why speed is Important for your WordPress website?
The internet has been the main source of information for many years now.
Audiences across the globe have fine-tuned their own processes to get the information they need, quickly and efficiently. Your website needs to perform at the required level for your audience’s needs.
Positive first impressions are vital when a visitor lands on your website. That first impression leads to an instant judgment on yourself, your business and if they would like to proceed with the services you offer.
The impression of a fast website highlights you as a professional company and that you know what your customer want. This, in turn, builds trust and confidence in that you can deliver.
How to Check Your WordPress Website Speed?
There are many website speed checkers online and here is the one we recommend. It’s important for an online checker to accurately report the speed of your website and gives recommendations on how you can improve the speed of your WordPress installation.
Google PageSpeed Insights
For a general view of how Google ranks the performance of your website, their online tool is a great resource to fine-tune the elements of your website that could be affecting your users’ experience.
What slows down your WordPress website?
Slow server response time
If your server response times are slow, this will cause the whole of your websites user experience to be slow. Google and other speed test tools recommend that you aim for a server response time of less than 200ms.
Too many plugins installed
Too many WordPress plugins can lead to bad performance, slow loading times and security breaches. You should aim for less than 15 plugins and if you’re on a shared server then 5 plugins should be your maximum.
Rendering is the technical term for your site loading. If something is blocking the load of the site, this will keep your website loading as quickly as it could. You can defer the loading of scripts that interfere with the loading of the initial view of the reach of each page.
Images that are not compressed or optimised
It is essential in keeping images uploaded to your website as small in file size as possible.
It is good to aim for images to be under 400kb in size and any large banner images around 500- 700kb. Large images are one of the main reasons for a slow website. Optimising images are one of the primary first steps to optimising your website performance.
There are parts of you website that may not change regularly and it the perfect time to make the most of caching those elements. Caching creates statically coded information that doesn’t need to talk dynamically to your database. By not having to make these calls, you can greatly improve the performance of your website.
Keep everything up to date
WordPress and plugin developers are constantly improving the WordPress platform and it is integral to keep your core installation and plugins up to date. Updates can utilise the application
of streamlined/refined code and planned performance improvements. Keeping your website online and running smoothly.
Installing a WordPress caching plugin.
Why it is important to cache your WordPress website
Applying a caching solution is an extremely important step to improving your websites performance. There are many options for caching plugins however some stand out from the crowd.
WP Super Cache, W3 Total Cache and LiteSpeed are currently the best solutions and are well supported and documented.
What exactly is caching?
Caching is the process of creating static versions of your website content and what is visible to your audience. By having static pages, the browsers can render/load the pages a lot quicker than having to build the pages dynamically by making calls to the database. This improves the performance of your website and creates a better user experience.
LiteSpeed Cache for WordPress
We recommend using Litespeed Cache.
For those unaware, Litespeed Web Server is a type of software that can be installed on your cloud or dedicated server and replaces the more commonly used Apache software.
What are the benefits?
The software works as a drop-in replacement to the existing framework.
LiteSpeed can be activated within minutes and is officially supported by cPanel. A plugin is available which can be used for easier management of the LiteSpeed Web Server from a graphic interface directly in WHM.
It is 100% compatible with Apache – htaccess continues to work without modification, likewise httpd.conf. The transition is smooth and easy and is something that our tech team will put in place for you.
Keeping your WordPress site updated
Many of our clients use WordPress as their chosen content management system to host their website. No matter which hosting platform is used, it is imperative to keep the core install up to date along with any add-ons which may also be used.
WordPress has 3 areas which should be updated regularly – the base platform, the theme and the plug-ins.
With any installation of WordPress via Softaculous you can set updates to be automatic. This is very easy to set up within your cPanel and takes away the requirement to log-in to your admin control panel every couple of weeks in order to apply any updates manually.
This is the primary reason you need to have a current WordPress install. With millions of websites hosted using WordPress, it’s not surprising that it is a huge target for hackers and other malicious people looking for exploits.
Security risks are identified regularly by the security team at WordPress and they will release patches or updates in order to fix these vulnerabilities. We often see hacks on older versions of WordPress installs or plug-ins – By not updating WordPress you are leaving yourself open to attack.
If you found your website hacked this could have a serious impact on your business – loss of client data, the site being offline and of course to fix is likely to end up costing a great deal of time, effort and money.
The WordPress developers will always try to improve performance and speed of their product. Each new core update to the platform comes with developments that makes the WordPress install run faster and more efficiently.
Plugins also get updates to improve their functionality, this could be to speed up scripts or queries or run more efficiently.
Because speed has such a huge bearing on SEO this is another important reason to keep WordPress up to date.
Following a major WordPress update, many plugins will also get an update to ensure compatibility with the new version, or to make use of new features. Often a plugin won’t need to be updated because it will remain compatible, but you will see from your dashboard whether a new version is available to you.
Occasionally you may find that an update to WordPress or to a plugin results in incompatibility problems with another aspect of WordPress – perhaps another plug-in, for example, this is why it’s important to perform a back-up of your site prior to updating.
If you are a user who does keep their WordPress install up to date you may have noticed that WordPress often release small updates to fix bugs and apply security patches – these will have an x.x.x version number rather than x.x which is a major release.
A major release will tend to be very stable and bug-free due to the rigorous development cycle and the huge number of people who will help with testing. However often something will be missed and a bug will crop up further down the line, therefore a minor release will come out to fix it. For example, the 4.5.2 Security Release was introduced after a vulnerability was identified in a third-party library WordPress uses for uploading files.
Optimize your images
Keeping file size small for images is a great start to getting faster load times for your audience. Serve images at the right dimensions needed for the space it occupies on the page and check that the image DPI is either 72-150.
Optimize all background processes
Enqueueing scripts is essential for WordPress. You can queue scripts like jQuery, Styling CSS and other 3rd party libraries in your functions.php file. This allows you to be able to load scripts straight away and not from the header of your page.
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A CDN is a geographically distributed network of servers. The aim is to provide high availability and performance by distributing the service spatially relative to end-users. Storing media like images and video is ideal when using a CDN. These file types can be large in size and have the files distributed really helps their load performance.
Uploading audio/video files into the WP media library
As best practice, it is best not to store these file types in the main WP media library. WordPress will need to factor in these files and make calls to them, even when they might not be needed at that time.
Use a Theme Optimized For Speed
Themes come in many different shapes and sizes and can be a huge factor in the speed of your user experience. Themes loaded with many settings and options can slow down your website and it is important to choose a theme that only does what you need.
Reduce External HTTP Requests
Using 3rd party libraries is very common in today’s web development. Making these call to external sources can slow your website down if the hosting solution the library has in place is overloaded. When possible it is always best to host scripts and libraries on your own hosting server.