How to speed up your WordPress website

WordPress is a great tool for any business or individual looking for the freedom to manage their own website, but you may be asking yourself how do I speed up my WordPress website? This post is essentially geared to give you an overview of the various ways you can improve the performance of your website and your page speed. A note to our readers, this is geared towards WordPress websites; however, much of it can be applied across the web for any website. Follow along or download our how to speed up my website attachment.

Identifying Resource Hogs

There are a few different web sites you can use to identify what is really dragging down the load time of your website. There is not one in particular we recommend, in fact we generally use a combination of these to get the best results. First and foremost, is the Google page speed tool. With the Google page speed tool you can identify what Google recommends for improving the performance of your website on both desktop and mobile devices. While this will not give you information specific to how to improve these specific to WordPress, it does give you an overview on how you can fix some of these issues.

The next of our favorite tools is gtmetrix. One of the features we like most about gtmetrix is the waterfall tab. When you go to gtmetrix.com and type in your web address, it gives you a score based on your loading time. The first page you see will give you recommendations on how to improve your performance, but if you want to dive deeper click on the waterfall tab to identify what is really dragging your website down. On this tab you will see all the resources that are loaded and a graph of how long each resource takes to load. If you hover your mouse over the links on the left you will see what should be easily identifiable such as images, style sheets or JavaScript. This helps you identify where the best place to start is with speeding up your website.

 

Optimizing WordPress

Once you have a general idea of what’s dragging down your website you should have a general idea on where to begin. Most often the scripts and style sheets from plugins or themes are what are dragging down the website. Especially if you’re using a large number of plugins on your website. Let me give you an example you download a plug-in that gives you a slider, generally that slider stylesheet and JavaScript files are loaded on every page of your website even if you only use the slider on your homepage. This is one example of something that can slow down your website. We will go over a plugin that can be used to help organize the loading of these JavaScript files and style sheets and keep them restricted to only the pages they are being used on. If you would like a more developer-focused solution you can read our tutorial on conditionally loading plugins in WordPress. Just start go to the plugins section of your website and click add new, once there go to the search bar and type in “plugin organizer”. You can review the installation and FAQ section of the plugin but all you should have to do is install and activate. This plug-in gives you a user-friendly interface where you can choose to enable or disable the loading of scripts either site wide or on a per page basis.

 

Using a Content delivery Network

The purpose of a Content Delivery Network is to provide the user with the information or web page they requested as quickly as possible. We won’t go into much detail here but think of the internet as a series of networks. When someone requests a website from a location that request has to go through a series of servers (networks) before it finds the actual server the website is located on. Then that information is sent back through those networks to the user for browsing. The purpose of a Content Delivery Network or CDN for sure is to decrease the number of networks your information has to travel through to get to the end user. A more simple explanation is your information is stored on a server closest to that user’s location so that it is served faster than it would be without the use of a Content Delivery Network. There are a series of services you can use including both free and paid such as CloudFlare, Amazon Web Services (AWS), maxcdn, just to name a few. While setup generally tends to vary depending on which service you use, all of these services have a pretty good walk through explanation on how you can get set up. Once you set up your CDN you should have additional settings such as website caching and even security and firewall settings to configure.

 

Setting up website caching

There are many plugins available in the WordPress repository for website caching and we will just go over some of the more popular ones. First and foremost would be WP Super Cache, which is maintained and developed by Automattic. This one is by far the easiest to set up and get going out-of-the-box. You can find various tutorials online for setting up WP Super Cache depending on your server, but most of the time you can just go through the settings and choose all of the recommended settings and make sure you enable caching. Another popular one would be W3 Total Cache. This is a more robust solution and offers a lot more than WP Super Cache but it is a little more technical and hands-on when it comes to setting up. Set up for this plugin will depend on your server environment but wpbeginner has an excellent tutorial on getting started with W3 Total Cache. When you set up website caching in combination with a Content Delivery Network you will see a dramatic difference in the time it takes for your page to load.

 

Wrapping it up

While this article could really take up several articles with in a series, this is the best overview for how you can improve the performance of your WordPress website. If you’re looking for a more information then download our Page Speed attachment or contact us:

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DesignLoud

DesignLoud is a web development & digital marketing agency located in Wilmington, NC. Our team takes great pleasure in teaching others how to build and market their websites to see higher returns.

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