When you fist start building your website you don’t really think about things like how to speed up a WordPress site. It can be confusing enough learning all the new stuff without adding site speed into the mix!
You know when you first visit a site and you’re sitting waiting patiently for it to load? Well, do you actually sit and wait, or do you just move on and find another site. Opinions differ as to the amount of time a person will wait, how long you have to grab their attention. One thing’s for sure, they won’t wait long, my limit is about 10 seconds, my sons is about 4 and for others it will only be a couple.
There are many factors involved in making sure your site loads quickly, some simple, some more complex. Today I’ll cover the basic things you can do to make sure your website loads quickly and give you tools to help.
How to Speed Up A WordPress Site
Theme choice – There are thousands of themes available to choose from, but not all are made equal. The trick is finding one that loads fast, but also gives you the features you need. Of course, once you choose a theme, it isn’t set in stone, you can change it at any time.
Read the feature list then check the reviews, you’ll usually get good honest feedback. Also check that the theme is kept up to date, you don’t want to choose a theme that hasn’t been updated recently. Read our full guide for choosing a WordPress theme here.
Image Optimization – This means making sure your images have small file sizes. There are ways to do this so your images still look good, not fuzzy and pixelated. We’ve covered how to do this in our article here. For images you’ve already used you can use a plugin called EWWW Image Optimizer. This will do a bulk optimization of all images in your WordPress media folder.
Plugins – You might have heard that having too many plugins slows down your website. Well, this can be true, but only if they’re badly coded or incompatible with your theme or other plugins you have installed. Before you add a plugin, always test your site speed before and after (tools for checking below). This is also another time you need to check the reviews and that the plugin is regularly updated and still supported by the developers.
TOP TIP – Only add plugins you really need, don’t get distracted by shiny objects!
To check your plugins, ironically you can add another plugin called P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler). You can deactivate after use and only activate when you want to check things. Install it as per our instructions here. Once installed and activated you can run your first scan.
Once it’s finished you’ll see a chart which gives you a breakdown. This will let you see if any plugins are adversely affecting your site speed. If you find any, you can either remove or look for alternatives that will do the same thing.
Concatenate all Scripts and Styles – This is complicated coding stuff, but luckily for us there’s a plugin that takes care of things for you! Install the plugin called “Autoptimize”, this will concatenate all scripts and styles, minify and compress, add expires headers, cache them. It will also move styles to the page head, and scripts to the footer. It also minifies the HTML code itself, making your page really lightweight. (I did say it was complicated stuff!).
Once installed, just tick the options on the settings page and save.
Use a Cache System – More complicated stuff, but again there is a plugin that takes care of it for you. We use “WP Fastest Cache”, but not all cache plugins work for all systems. If you have problems with this one, let us know and we’ll suggest others.
Once installed, check all the options and save.
To check your website speed go to Pingdom, add your url and check the results. Do this each time you add a plugin, before and after.
Google’s Pagespeed Insights does just that, give you insights to make your web pages load fast on all devices.
These few simple steps will help to keep your site “up to speed”! If you’ve any questions leave a comment below or contact us.