Despite being the most popular CMS (content management system) on the planet, WordPress can be slow. That’s the bad news. The good news is that any website owner running WordPress can take a number of actions to speed things up. The reality is that the software’s reputation for being slow and buggy has more to do with those who use it than shoddy design. WordPress is no more or less speedy than other types of websites. It just requires frequent attention to updates, plugin conflicts, and a few other technical issues that can crop up.
The bottom line is that if you have a slow WordPress website, here are five ways to speed it up…
Slow Loading Time is More than an Annoyance
Before we dive into a handful of ways to speed up WordPress, let’s take a quick look at why you might want to. If you sell a product or service through your website, a lack of speed could be killing your profit more than you realize. Below are a few numbers that emphasize the impatience of the online public:
- Google has set two seconds as the minimum level of acceptability for an ecommerce website to load
- Mobile website visitors click away 53 percent of the time after a three second wait
- The average mobile site loads in 6.9 seconds
In case you’re wondering why we’re talking about mobile site load times, more than half of all global internet traffic originates from mobile devices and Google now judges an entire domain on how fast its mobile version loads.
#1. Choose Your Theme Wisely
It’s easy to get sucked into the spinning, whirling bells and whistles that come with so many themes, but all those non-essential functions come at a price – bloated code and lack of speed. As boring as it sounds, the slimmed down default WordPress theme that pops up after installation is a solid, lightweight choice.
If you can’t stomach the thought of the default theme, feel free to browse through the thousands of free and paid alternatives but pay attention to one simple bit of advice, please. Extra features that you don’t use or need almost certainly slow down your load time. A fancy theme that loads so slow half your traffic leaves and never sees it doesn’t make much sense now, does it? With speed in mind, we have created Kallyas which gives you the tools to build any design you want and only loads the resources that are actually used.
#2. Use a Caching Plugin
A caching plugin drastically speeds up your website’s load time by saving static elements like header images, forms, and some scripts in a browser’s temporary memory. This means the website doesn’t have to be downloaded in its entirety on each visit. You can pay for a caching plugin if you’re determined to do so but the free one called W3 Total Cache is all you’ll ever need in this area.
While a caching plugin won’t help much the first time a visitor arrives (you’ll have to rely on other tactics for that), it makes a noticeable difference as time goes on. W3 Total Cache is easy to install and use. We suggest you do so. Now.
#3. It’s Time for a Content Delivery Network
If your goal is to grow your little blog or website into a bigger one, you might as well familiarize yourself with the concept of a CDN (concept delivery network). Since the internet has to adhere to the laws of physics, it stands to reason that it takes longer for a website to display on a browser if the source files are located on a physically distant server.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could keep a copy of your website so that it was close to anyone in the world who wanted to visit it? With a CDN, which works as a subscription service in addition to your regular web host, you can. A CDN is simply a network of far-flung servers that each have a copy of your website. A request to view the website is routed to the nearest server and voila, the rest is simply physics.
By the way, most of the REALLY big bloggers use this technology. It’s the only way to get content to lots of people all over the place quickly.
#4. Your Web Host Matters
The web hosting industry has grown unimaginably large and competitive, with each trying its best to offer you the world for a few bucks a month. While a great many web hosts allow you to install and use the WordPress platform, a substantially smaller number are “tuned” to do so efficiently, which is what you should be concerned about.
The bottom line is that most extremely low-cost hosts rely on shared hosting, which means you share computing resources with lots of other websites. If you fancy the idea of your hair turning gray in one fell swoop and probable heart palpitations caused by lengthy, frequent stalls or outright downtime, be our guest. We’d like to suggest you research something called a dedicated server. It’s not terribly more expensive and loads faster.
#5. Tune Up Your Home Page
Visitors will likely be forgiving if parts of your website are slow if the home page loads fast, so concentrate on this first. Action items to consider related to design would include:
- Show excerpts, not full posts
- No more than 5 posts on page
- No sharing widgets, only put them in posts
- Get rid of any plugin or widget you don’t need
- Think minimal in design
Before you undertake any of the previous preventative measures, it makes sense to find out how slow (or fast) your website actually is. Pay a visit to Pingdom and type in your URL. Half a minute later you should be able to view a nice summary of your website’s performance. This testing process is something to be done regularly. It will let you know if you’re making progress over time or starting to slip. As websites grow more interactive, file bloat is a real problem that you’re going to have to stay aware of if you want to make a serious run at meeting Google’s two second standard. Good luck!