We all know what it’s like to type a webpage into the address bar and the having to wait an eternity for the site to load. It’s miserable! In today’s era, even a 4 second download speed seems like forever. Consequently, for most visitors a slow download is a huge turn-off and is likely to drive people away from your site before they even view your content.
Unfortunately, it is really easy to completely bloat a website with a mess of processes and inefficiencies. These can turn even a simple sight into a slow moving behemoth. Here are 9 easy steps you can take to make sure your site isn't one of them.
1. Test Your Current Speed
It is impossible to judge improvements and changes to your site if you don’t have a benchmark from which to start. There are a multitude of resources available (free and paid) that can give you detailed reports regarding the download/upload speed of your website.
2. Simple And Clean Theme
There are many popular templates available that simply wreak havoc on your loading speeds. It is important to choose a good theme that is not overloaded with features, has a simple and efficient design, and also looks good.
There are a couple theme providers that do a particularly good job at creating nice looking and user friendly themes while at the same time keeping them light. Elegant Themes has a large variety of beautiful themes available for purchase. MyThemeShop, on the other hand, has both paid themes and free themes available.
3. Less Is More: Plug-Ins
There are so many plug-ins available that offer to implement great features on your website; however, you must decide if they are really worth it. The plug-in may offer a cool look or feature but if it is going to slow down your site it may not be too valuable in the grand scheme of things.
From my experience a typical developer/designer should try to limit plug-in usage to between 5-10 active plug-ins at any given time. This is by no means a hard line number; however, the more plug-ins that are active the slower your site will be.
4. Less Is More: Advertisements
While advertisements such as AdWords offer the allure of an additional revenue stream it is important to use them in moderation. Remember how these type of advertisements work; there is a whole other system integrated into and communicating with your website from an outside source. All of this communication back and forth takes time and slows down your website.
5. Homepage Optimization
First impressions are the best impressions. Since a majority of your visitors are likely to arrive at your homepage it is important that it loads quickly and smoothly. There are two easy steps you can take to improve your homepage loading speed.
Firstly, remove unnecessary social sharing widgets from your homepage. Sharing is good, but again, every connection that is made with an outside site adds more information that must be exchanged and downloaded. If you think about it most content that is likely to be shared is in the actual posts and pages themselves, not on the homepage.
Secondly, limit the number of posts shown on your homepage to 5-10 posts per page. Most people don’t make it down that far before clicking on a post anyways, so there is no sense in loading content that the visitors aren't even going to see.
To do this go to 1. Settings -> 2. Reading -> 3. Enter in number of blog posts to show at most
6. Compress and Optimize Images
If used improperly images can place a HUGE burden on your website. Many people don’t realize just how large the file sizes can be for images. It is important to optimize your images by compressing them and making sure the images are the exact size needed for your site; not too big and not too small.
There are a few ways to accomplish both of these tasks. Photoshop is by far the most powerful tool for image optimization; however, it is super pricey. GIMP and Image Compressor are both adequate and free alternative.
If you are in the mood for a completely automated process you can opt to choose WordPress plug-ins such as WP Smush.it or EasyRotator for WordPress…but remember more plug-ins means slower download time.
7. Caching Plug-Ins
If you are new to web development “caching” may be a term you are unfamiliar with. To cache basically means to pre-load common page elements and compress essential files to make the overall website download faster. It’s complicated, but the good news is you can install plug-ins that can do all of this complicated stuff for you!
8. Empty The Trash
When you delete a page, post, or comment it is not actually deleted. Instead, it is simply moved to your trash can where they will remain for 30 days. After 30 days WordPress will permanently delete them by default. However, 30 days is a long time and you may end up with quite a few items in your trash. Each one slowing down your site. To solve this it may be good to periodically empty the trash manually, maybe once a week.
To do this you can simply go to 1. Pages/Posts/Comments -> 2. Trash -> 3. Empty Trash
9. Limit Revisions Stored
You may or may not know that while your are working on a post WordPress is continually saving backups and revisions of your work. Each time you manually save a draft or update a post WordPress makes a copy and stores it. These copies are stored indefinitely and are never deleted. This can add up to be an enormous burden for your website. The simplest way to address this is to install Revision Control which will automatically delete revisions after a set amount of time.
It's As Simple As That!
While each one of these steps may only make a minor and incremental improvement to your speed; together they are likely to make a noticeable difference. Give it a shot. Go through these steps and see if they work for you.
Here are some additional posts you might be interested in:
- 10 Characteristics Of A Great Blog Theme
- 7 Responsive Themes For Your WordPress Blog
- Wealthy Affiliate Review – Why It's My #1 Recommendation
If you have any questions regarding this post or have any additional comments, experiences, or resources please drop me a comment below!