Are you dealing with a slow WordPress website? Are you witnessing a high bounce rate?
You probably need to check your website’s loading and operating speed. Improving it might help you.
This has always been a question for so many WordPress website owners and developers: why do WordPress websites start performing slower as the time passes?
It’s a common problem.
You might have noticed that when you have a fresh installation of your WordPress website, it’s fast and zippy.
But as you start using it; creating content, adding media, plugins and all the other usual Content Management System (CMS) variables, your website experiences a performance hit.
If you are searching for ways to make it fast and smooth again, this top 10-step list will show you how to optimize a website to maximum performance:
- Choose the right theme.
- Optimize images.
- Clear the trash.
- Monitor comments and pingbacks.
- Limit revisions.
- Choose your plugins wisely.
- Get better hosting.
- Use the GZip response.
- Minimize static resources.
- Keep everything updated.
1. Choose the right theme
A poorly coded design with a high usage of static resources will affect your website’s performance adversely.
Indeed, themes that use lots of images without optimizing them for web usage will make your website’s performance worse.
Before picking up any theme, make sure that it is responsive. It must work across all devices and browser platforms.
Additionally, make sure it does not have too many external CSS, JS and Images resources to load.
A responsive, minimal and elegant looking theme will help your website look professional. Not to mention, it helps your website load and work faster and smoother.
2. Optimize images
No doubt images help make your website look more appealing. But there has to be a good mixture of textual content and images.
There are two types of images you need to know about.
The first type of image is created for printing purposes. These images are generally of high quality, large size and high pixel density.
The second image type is the web or digital media image. These images are small in size and have less pixel density.
You should always optimize every image you upload on to your website. The images should be small in size and have less pixel.
It will help you improve your website’s performance tremendously if you are using plenty of these types of images in your pages.
3. Clear the trash
What will happen if you don’t clean your office’s trashcan? It will store the garbage until it’s completely filled and then things will start overflowing.
To overcome this situation, we regularly empty the trash can, don’t we?
The same rule applies to your WordPress website. WordPress allows you to add media, page, posts and many more post types to your website.
Like adding stuff, you can obviously delete them when you no longer need them. The system is mature enough to put deleted stuff into a trash bucket.
When you are sure that you no longer need your deleted content, it’s a good idea to permanently delete those items from the trash as well.
4. Monitor comments and pingbacks
Comments are a great way to engage your reader audience.
Our only intention with blog posts is to make important information available to our readers. And it’s the best reward when positive comments come in from those readers.
Comments are indeed valuable, but not all comments are legit. When you open your website for comments you can’t hide your site from spammers.
Be ready to fight against them like we all do!
The best thing to do is opt for the free Akismet account. The plugin is installed by default. Activate it and start using it.
It will keep those spam comments away for your website.
A pingback is the mention/link of your resource to other websites/pages. Make sure to keep in the habit of regularly visiting the comments section.
Approve and reply to the legitimate comments and delete the useless ones.
5. Limit Revisions
WordPress is a mature platform and it has some very useful features available out of the box.
Revision is one of those features: it auto saves your page/post content as you start writing it.
No feature comes without additional overhead. Revision has an added database overhead.
The auto save adds the post snapshot into the database. Additionally, when you hit the save draft button a snapshot of the post is added to database.
So let’s say that the post you are creating takes ten auto save revisions and one revision due to saving your draft.
Your post is taking eleven times the space of its actually published size! Open your wp-config.php and add the following code:
define( ‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, 10 );
6. Choose your plugins wisely
Not all plugins are created with the same code architecture.
Be cautious while adding plugins to your website. Plugins are generally the core reason behind successful hacks or malware attacks.
A poorly coded plugin will contribute more harm than the functional gain you may ever get. Be sure about your requirements.
Do a search for the plugin. Read reviews, ratings and comments before installing the plugin.
Are you are one of those WordPress enthusiasts who keep on installing new plugins just for the sake of trying or addressing a very small requirement?
If so, please change your habit. If you are really a WordPress enthusiast, create the local web server setup on your windows machine.
Here is an article that will help you setup a WordPress website from scratch on your local machine.
7. How to optimize a website: get better hosting
The web server where your website resides also plays a major part in your website’s performance.
There are plenty of factors, like processing power, memory allocation, disk IO, bandwidth and server location that affect your website’s performance.
Having a good hosting plan in place will help you speed things up without making much effort!
Really, it’s that easy. Be sure you research well before buying a hosting plan for your website.
A shared hosting plan with front line hosting providers might be good enough for you to start with.
But once you start seeing a decent amount of traffic, you should consider upgrading to a cloud infrastructure. Just keep this in mind for later use.
8. Use the GZip response
You might be familiar with this compression.
Do you remember the time when you needed to send a couple of images/documents over an email and you used the zip utility to compress the files for faster transmission?
Well, the same thing can be done with web servers as well. All modern web servers and web browsers are compatible with this compression.
The web server generates the response in compressed form. It takes very little time to reach the destination client computer.
And the client computer uncompresses the resource and renders the output!
If you are not sure about the Gzip compression, you had better ask your hosting provider to enable it for your account.
The majority of modern web hosting providers support it without any extra configuration.
9. Minimize static resources
When it comes to static resources on the web, this generally refers to the CSS, JS and images.
We have covered the image optimization part in an earlier section. Be sure to apply this. Now, let’s explore the CSS and JS resource optimization.
You know that web designers and programmers write code to make your website beautiful and functional. But the code that they write is in human readable form.
Meaning, these files contains proper spacing and line breaks. But these spaces and breaks increase the file size.
The resource minification is the process where we eliminate all those extra spaces that helps us reduce the file size.
When possible, ask your theme developer to merge the resources and minify them. It will help your website load faster.
This is because there are very few HTTP calls to be made to load resources. And compressed resources take fairly less time to load.
10. Keep everything updated
With WordPress, you don’t need to worry about updates. You will receive regular update alerts that will make your WordPress framework more secure and stable.
You only need to care about the major framework updates, as WordPress keeps itself up to date for minor updates.
The major updates contains the security updates, bug fixes and new features.
Like the WordPress framework update, keep in the habit of updating your WordPress plugins and themes.
In the majority of cases, the plugin updates contains the security patches and bug fixes. And the theme updates contain the styling updates and improved stability.
Be sure to keep everything up to date. It will help you make things secure on your website.
So, if you have a WordPress-based website and come to find it really slow-loading and performing, refer to the above ten suggested steps.
They show you how to optimize a website and overcome problems with poor loading and operating performance.
Being a WordPress and web design enthusiast, Darshan loves to share insightful and actionable articles about WordPress. With PSD to Bootstrap conversion services, he is helping graphic designers convert their prototype to responsive web design at a very affordable price.
Image courtesy of Giovanni Sades at FreeDigitalPhotos.net