How to improve wordpress website loading speed

James Oliver
James Oliver

How fast your website loads is critical!

Before I get into the main content, let’s use some common sense. Say somebody is looking for your service in your area and finds your website.

But when they click on it they get the blank screen for a few seconds; chances are they will press back and click on the next listing.

If you think about it, you’ve probably done it before. It’s just a force of habit.

But, what does that mean for your website?

Well it affects your SEO, Google doesn’t want to show websites that users click onto and then click off, it’s terrible user experience.

There are other factors too but let’s stick with this primary example. It causes a chain reaction making you lose customers to your competitors.

That’s why you want experts building your website 😉

Let’s dive into how to improve your websites speed.

Note: This is more of a high-level overview showing you the main sections to speed up your website without every single “click this, then that” information. I have included videos and images to help show you each section in more detail. But, be careful when editing the backend of your site AND make sure you back it up before doing any changes.

Remove excess code

WordPress is very functional and user friendly for businesses, but the drawback is that it comes with a lot of extra code out of the box. This extra bloat takes Google longer to read, slowing down your website.

Minimise CCS and Javascript

Minimise CCS and Javascript files which instantly speeds up your WordPress site. To explain what it does naturally, we read the text like this blog post with gaps between paragraphs.

However, computers don’t require spaces to read the content, so we remove the spaces reducing the file size resulting in speed for your website in a click of a button.

There are many tools to reduce this code one of the simplest ways is to install a paid plugin called WP Rocket. We prefer WP Rocket because of how well it does the task and other tasks, but you’re more than welcome to use a different plugin.

Minimise HTTP requests

Asset CleanUp: Page Speed Booster is a plugin that quickly lets you turn off extra plugins and code on your website and give you some quick wins straight away.

A few examples could be if you’re using stripe and eCommerce payment options on your website. Which you need for your website to take payments, but do you need them running on your homepage and blog.

Using this plugin, you can turn off the specific plugins on those pages to reduce the code and speed up your website.

Another example could be if your WordPress website is built with a page builder like Elementor, so you don’t need the standard WordPress Gutenberg running, and you can remove it.

Reduce the number of Plugins

The first section was somewhat advanced, but most of the ways to improve your speed to a high benchmark isn’t too complicated. One of the easiest ways to increase your WordPress site is to reduce the number of plugins you have on it.

We’ve all been there, getting carried away adding extra functionality to your website by quickly installing plugins. Which is the real power of WordPress, but after a while, you look and have double-digit plugins installed and climbing.

All this extra code and memory adds up. So what you need to do is delete unused plugins.

Tip: Before you do, make sure you aren’t using the plugin! Try deactivating it first and using your website to make sure everything is fine.

Remove themes

Having different themes installed on your website increases the MB of your website and slows it down.

Remove any themes installed that you’re not using. #quickwin

Reduce image sizes

Images carry a lot of data and are the main culprit for slowing down websites. If your uploading new photos to your website run them through Tiny Png.

This will reduce the file size before you upload them for free. 

If you already have images installed that aren’t optimised (which is more likely), you need to download a plugin to reduce the file size.

Two I recommend are Shortpixel and Imagify. 

Both have a free quota each month, or you can pay to get all your images done in one go.

Above is a screenshot of Tiny Png reducing the file sizes for this blog post. The results certainly add up speeds up your website dramatically.

Use a CDN

CDN stands for content delivery network, which is a cloud-based server for websites.

If you use a CDN, your website is also stored in the cloud as well as a fixed location.

If your site is hosted on one server, each user who visits your site sends requests to that one server.

This means that when your site has high levels of traffic, it takes longer to process each request slowing the load times for all of them.

A CDN bypasses these issues, and it also lets the user download the website from the closest location speeding up your website loading time.

Evolved Toaster uses flywheel for hosting, which has a CDN included.

If you already have a website and want a CDN, you can use Cloudflare and get a free one for a year.

Hosting

Cheap hosting generally means slower hosting, not all the time… but most of the time. 

gt metrix home

One way to check if you need a faster hosting provider is to go to Gtmetrix and plug in your website.

gt metrix location

Make sure you run the checks in the main location your targeting this will provide you with a better result.

gt metrix waterfall

Then go to the waterfall section and see what’s slowing down your website. The first bar is your hosting and mine is showing 123.8 ms not bad Flywheel. 

gt metrix waterfall section

If your hosting provider is taking longer than 2 seconds, I would say its time for a faster host. Because this has a knock-on effect when you add everything else to your website, it will end up taking longer than 5 seconds.

The total time we want to aim for is under 3 seconds to load in our targeted location. But the quicker, the better.

Bonus

Recently I put Evolved Toaster into GTmetix and found in the waterfall section that FB messenger was dramatically slowing down the site.

Although I do like the live chat feature most people contact us through email and the contact forms so I made the decision to remove the FB messenger plugin and the results were massive.

This was the speed before

After making one change and removing the chat plugin, the site increased its speed by 2.4 seconds!!

Conclusion

Every website is different in terms of content and software used to run it.

Using something like GT Metrix lets you check the speed and waterfall enables you to see the main areas slowing down your website to target them first.

The key areas to focus on.

  • Minimise CCS and Javascript
  • Minimise HTTP requests
  • Reduce the number of Plugins
  • Remove themes
  • Reduce image sizes
  • Use a CDN
  • Hosting

 

Let me know what you think, what method are you going to try first? Or what approach have you done before? Leave a comment below.

And check out our website design services.

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