Performance (speed in this context) is a crucial thing to notice in the web development, other than design. A slow website will provide a bad experience to users which eventually affects your business in general. Improving website speed is not a one-time job. It is part of the website maintenance, which lasts as long as your site still running. In WordPress, there are several things you can do to increase the speed of your website. But first, you might be wondering, how to know if your website is fast enough or not?
There are several online tools to test your website speed, such as Google Page Speed Insight, Pindgom, and GTMetrix. Each tool provides different metrics. GTMetrix, for instance. This tool measures the PageSpeed Score and YSlow Score. The higher the score (0 – 100), the faster your website speed. For further analysis, you can use the web developer tools of your web browser to check the resource performance such as TTFB, server response code, and so on.
We have 6 tips you can try to speed up your WordPress site.
1. Avoid using too many plugins
In WordPress, you can install plugins to add certain features and functionalities that are not available by default. Installing too many plugins is not a wise decision, though. Keep this in mind: more active plugins mean more resources to handle page generation requests. Simply put, the more resources needed, the longer (and heavier) your website to be loaded in the browser.
If you use a WordPress that offers a plugin bundle such as Jupiter X and Monstroid2, make sure to activate only the required plugins and the plugins you really need to make your website lighter to be loaded.
2. Use a caching plugin
Caching plugin is one of the mandatory plugin types if you want to speed up your WordPress site. A caching plugin works by generating static HTML files (and other static files according to the caching plugin you use) from your WordPress site. By doing this, your server doesn’t have to process PHP scripts for the same page requests. Instead, it will serve the generated static files. As a result, your site will be loaded faster since your server has prepared the required files for the requested pages.
There are a bunch of caching plugins out there, from free to paid. To get started and to figure out how a caching plugin affects your site speed, you can use a free caching plugin like WP Super Cache. This plugin (developed by Automattic) serves static HTML files to users by state (users who are not logged in, users who haven’t left a comment, users who haven’t viewed a password-protected post).
3. Avoid using external content
We understand your reason for using external content. You want to save your resource since upgrading to a higher web hosting plan, you need to spend the extra money and monthly budget as well. However, there are some issues you need to aware of. Using external content means you have no control over the content. If the content is failed to load due to technical issues, content restriction policy in certain countries, and so on — your website won’t fully be loaded as well. If you have to use external content (video, for instance), make sure to use reliable service.
4. Optimize the images
Image is a crucial enough content type of a website. Not only it makes your website visually looks good. An image can strengthen your message when you want to write an article. Before using an image for an article (or anywhere within your website), make sure you have optimized it in order to make it not too heavy to be loaded. The simplest way to optimize an image is by lowering its dimension before you use it for an article. You can use tools like Photoshop or GIMP to do so. You can also use an image optimization plugin like Smush or similar plugins which lowers the image size without losing the quality.
5. Use a CDN service
If you have a worldwide audience, using a CDN service (Content Delivery Network) can give you lots of benefits. By using a CDN, your visitors will be served according to the geographic location they belong to (country in most cases). A CDN allows you to serve static files (JS, CSS, images, video) from different servers.
Here is how a CDN works.
When a new visitor visits your website, the static files of your website will be cached on a different server closest to her/his location. When a new different visitor from the same location visits your website, she/he will be served with the cached files stored on the same CDN server as the first visitor. The purpose of implementing CDN is to reduce your hosting server load. Same as caching plugin, but for a wider audience.
6. Use a web hosting service optimized for WordPress
Finding a web host with multiple data center locations can help provide faster website loading time to your website visitors, thus offering a better user journey. For example, if your web server is located in Europe and your main visitor base is from the US, choosing a US data center is better for speed and performance. Many of the best web hosts provide an option for selecting the server location.
Some premium WordPress themes demand more resources to work. Newspaper, for instance. This theme requires a larger memory limit than the vast majority of WordPress themes. If you use a shared hosting service, you have a limited resource so you can’t install a plugin as you like. If you have a large website with a dedicated team to take care of the server, using a VPS (or even a dedicated server) is a great idea since you can tweak your server to maximize its performance. Otherwise, you can use a web hosting service that is optimized for WordPress. A WordPress-optimized web hosting service typically has resources that have been optimized for WordPress so you can focus your website development (adding the content, gaining more visitors, and so on).
The bottom line
There are lots of factors affecting the performance of your WordPress website, be it from the server side or app side (your website). 6 tips above are the basic steps you can apply to make your website run faster. Again, improving your website performance is part of the maintenance process. It is not a one-time task.