At this stage in time, it really should not be necessary for anyone to question the importance of site speed. From page-load times to fluidity of navigation and so on and so forth, sites that fail to live up to the mark in simple speed term are doomed to failure – it’s as simple as that. And what’s worse still is the reputation damage that can be inflicted by a poor-performing site, which could in the worst cases be irreparable.
So we know it’s important to make a site as fast and smooth-running as possible, but how best to go about this for a WordPress site? The trouble with WordPress is that like most other site building tools of its kind, the way in which it’s somewhat less-than manual in its approach means making a few sacrifices on the part of the site’s owner. WordPress can be a hotbed of performance issues from time to time, but there are ways and means by which performance can be stepped up and the majority are easy enough to implement.
Before getting started, it’s a good idea to make a note of your exact site and page loading speeds, which is good to have on hand in order to be used for comparative purposes a little later. You can choose any of the most reliable online tools like those from Yahoo! or Google, which will rate the speed of your site and tell you a few things you can do to make things better.
However, what differs about this particular guide you’re reading now is how the steps involved are wholly DIY in nature and won’t cost you a penny!
Get the Picture?
When boiled down to its fundamentals, the job of increasing the page load speed of any WordPress site revolves around the principle of reducing how much data the respective page features. The less data and the lower the size of the content on the whole, the faster the page will load – always a great starting point to work with.
Of course, the test content of your pages isn’t going to be too heavy all in all, but your pictures may be another matter entirely. The good news however is that it’s never been easier to reduce the file sizes of the images across your WordPress site in order to make a big difference right away.
- Be sure to use PNG images where colour pallets are limited, otherwise use JPEG
- JPEGs can and should be compressed to around the 80% mark to preserve quality
- Always upload an image that’s already been cropped to the necessary size
- There’s a WordPress plugin called WP Smush.it that’s built around reducing image file size
Take care of images in the above ways and the effect will be both dramatic and immediate.
WordPress isn’t what you call totally efficient when it comes to the way it extracts data and all manner of bits and pieces to assemble your pages when a reader pays you a visit. However, you can speed things up a ton by using a solid caching plugin – WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache are both 100% free of charge and work a treat. Admittedly the latter is a bit complex for newbies to grasp, but it’s worth sticking with.
Pull Back on Plugins
And just to somewhat stamp on the toes of the above pointer, it’s worth remembering that even those plugins that are designed to make your site run faster are still adding to the overall workload of WordPress as a whole. As such, it’s always wise to limit plugin numbers to a sensible amount and to ensure that those in place are all bringing your site genuine and measurable benefits. What’s more, it’s also worth keeping tabs on the plugins you’re using in accordance with the newest releases and updates, as there’s always a chance that there could be something superior on the market that’s free to download and make use of.
Cut the Home Page Fat
And finally, remember that your primary landing page is and always will be the most important asset of your site as a whole. Generally speaking, this will be the page that determines who stays, who goes and who gets riled up by the site’s slow loading time. Where possible, it’s a good idea to trim some of the fat from the home page and put everything in its place elsewhere. Save the heavy and hungry media for other pages, display excerpts of posts instead of full articles and resist the urge to go OTT with any advertising or widgets you decide to use.