For this reason, knowing how to get the most out of your WordPress site is crucial, especially if you want to improve your organic search rankings, attract new site visitors, keep your existing visitors around for longer, and improve the overall user experience. There are many ways to go about achieving these goals, and improving your website loading times is one of them.
To help improve the speed of your WordPress website, here are 5 quick and easy ways to do just that – and you don’t even need any coding experience or technical knowledge.
1. Uninstall unused WordPress plugins
WordPress plugins are apps that enhance the features and capabilities of your WordPress website. The kinds of enhancements you can make depend entirely on the plugins you download. Some plugins make it easier to share your content via social media, while others let you integrate custom forms into your website and integrate SEO ranking factors into your website pages. The possibilities are virtually endless.
Yet, as great as WordPress plugins are, there is a downside to them. Since WordPress plugins are created by third-party entities (they’re not officially endorsed and tested for compatibility by WordPress directly) this can lead to discrepancies in performance them. Some WordPress plugins are coded more poorly than others, which can affect your website loading times. Likewise, if you have too many WordPress plugins installed, this can also cause your website to process more information than what is necessary and lead to slower loading times.
To combat this issue, take the time to review your existing WordPress plugins and, if you fail to see any benefits to a particular plugin, delete it. Keep in mind, if you’re unsure how a certain plugin works, keep it for now. You don’t want to accidentally delete a plugin that is actually useful to you, or crucial to the functionality of your website. Spend some time learning about the plugin, and then come back later once you know exactly what it does. Then, you can decide whether the plugin is worth keeping or not.
2. Install a WordPress caching plugin
Pages hosted on WordPress are dynamic in nature. This means your website is built from scratch every time a user visits a page on your WordPress website. Because of this, websites with pages that contain a lot of information take longer to load than those with less information. Of course, given the complex nature and wealth of information featured on most websites these days, there needs to be another way to help reduce website loading times while still keeping website feature-rich with valuable content.
Caching is the answer to this problem. And by far the best way to make use of caching in WordPress is with a caching plugin.
How exactly do they work? With a caching plugin, WordPress no longer has to process every bit of information that is featured on your website. So when a user visits your website for the first time, WordPress will process the information as usual, but the plugin will make a copy of the page after it first loads. From there, every subsequent time the user revisits that page, the plugin will serve the ‘cached’ version of that website to them.
Also, if any new information has been added to the page since the last time the user visited it, the plugin will create a new cached version of the page, and then present it to the user as so.
As a result of this, WordPress no longer has to draw info from your MySQL database and PHP files in order to display your website each time a user visits it. Thus, it helps greatly reduce the amount of time needed to process and present the page, improving the user experience by a lot. There are many WordPress caching plugins to choose from, some of which are free-to-use while others are paid versions that have extra features like customer support and automatic file optimisation. Some of the most commonly used WordPress caching plugins include:
3. Optimise your images for speed
Having images on your website is a great way to increase readership and improve the user experience. However, the amount of images you have on your website (and the quality of each image) can impact your website loading times. Optimising your images is the perfect solution to this problem.
What do we mean by optimise exactly? When it comes to images, this means performing two separate tasks:
- Choosing the right type of image file format, and
- Reducing the literal size (dimensions) of your image
In regards to image file types, the two most popular are JPEG and PNG.
PNG is an uncompressed file type, as there is no loss in data when an image is converted to a PNG. While this means PNG images are of a higher quality, they are also larger in size and therefore take longer to load.
JPEGs, on the other hand, are a type of compressed image file format. Created in 1993, the JPEG file format was designed specifically to reduce the file size of images, with as little compromise to image quality as possible.
Since JPEGs use a compression algorithm to reduce their file size, they are quicker to load. And in many situations, the slight reduction in image quality is barely noticeable to most users, especially those viewing your website on a mobile or tablet device. Of course, there are still circumstances where PNG is preferable, such as graphs and transparent images.
Another way to reduce the size of your image files is to, well, quite literally, reduce the image size. You can do this yourself by using free image editor software like Paint. Simply open your image in the software, choose the ‘Resize’ image option, and then adjust the dimensions of the image until it closely matches the size you need for your website. In doing so, you will reduce the amount of legwork that WordPress has to do to process your images, resulting in faster website loading times.
4. Update your WordPress website
As one of the most popular website hosting platforms in the world, WordPress is updated on a regular basis. These updates are designed to improve the WordPress platform in a variety of ways. These include improvements in site security and compatibility with different plugins, new features, optimisations of existing features, and – of course – performance upgrades.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to update WordPress as often as possible.
You can do this yourself by visiting your WordPress dashboard. Log in to your WordPress account, hover your mouse over the ‘Dashboard’ icon on the top left, and click on Updates. This will take you to a page that features all available updates for WordPress, as well as updates for each plugin you have installed. Here, you can choose to update each individual plugin yourself, or click the ‘Update Plugins’ tab to update all of your plugins at once. The choice is yours!
5. Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network)
A CDN is a geographically distributed group of servers that work together to provide fast delivery of Internet content.
The purpose of a CDN is to minimize delays in loading web pages by reducing the physical distance between the server in which the information is hosted and the user. Without a CDN, users would have to source the information necessary to view a website directly from the origin server in which the location is based.
Let’s say for example a website in hosted in the United States, and a user who wants to visit the website is based in the UK. Without a CDN, the page would take a long time to load, because of the large distance between the server and the user.
To remedy this problem, CDN’s store a cached version of your website content in multiple geographic locations around the world. These are known as “points of presence” (POPs). These POPs contain their own caching servers and are responsible for delivering content to users in their relevant geographic location.
There are many CDN service providers out there. Some of the most popular CDN providers out there include Cloudflare, Microsoft Azure CDN, Fastly, KeyCDN, and StackPath. Each of those CDN service providers differ in terms of the site speeds and features they offer. For this reason, it’s worth researching and comparing the features and offers of at least a few CDN service providers, before you pick the right one for you.
Alternatively, your web design service providers will be able to personally evaluate your unique circumstances, and then choose a CDN service provider that fits your specific needs and budget.
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