No matter what industry your business is in, having a fast website is essential. WordPress is an excellent platform with many great features but its performance can be hindered if it becomes weighed down by unnecessary plugins and isn’t optimised correctly. Website speed is critically important for a number of reasons:
According to research performed in 2017, WordPress is now used by almost 60% of websites that use a CMS (Content Management System). It’s a hugely popular platform, especially among small businesses which is why this guide has been aimed at WordPress users. There are a number of ways in which the speed of your WordPress site can be optimised to go faster, resulting in a more enjoyable experience for visitors to your site, better rankings and ultimately, more business for you.
Even before we highlight ways in which you can optimise the performance of the WordPress CMS, we must first consider the most important factor that determines website speed; your web hosting package. With most basic hosting packages, your site will be hosted on the same server as multiple other sites, where you’ll share the bandwidth with their sites (shared hosting).
Whilst this is the most economical method of hosting, it’s not performance-oriented and any business who is serious about ensuring the best possible speeds and user experience for customers will instead opt for a dedicated server hosting package. This is especially important for customers who have websites that attract a considerable amount of traffic, such as Elite RV.
So which web hosting provider should you go with? When in doubt, always search online. Simply search for ‘best web hosting providers’ or ‘best web hosting providers [your_country]’ and take a look at their various hosting deals. There’s no better way to gauge how good a product or service is than by looking at customer reviews. If they’re overwhelmingly positive, consider signing up with them, if on the other hand customer reviews are mostly negative, avoid them and continue your search elsewhere.
When sifting through reviews, it’s important to be wary of fake reviews that are posted for the sole purpose of boosting a company’s aggregate rating. If you see a glowing endorsement that consists of little more than a generic “These guys are amazing! I would definitely recommend!”, then it’s probably safe to assume that the review is not genuine. Whenever I personally review a product – whether it’s to praise or criticise, I always take the time to explain why I’m happy with the product or why I’m dissatisfied with it. This is usually a good sign that the review can be trusted.
There are an endless list of high quality WordPress themes on the market today, but not all of them are geared towards swift performance. Although there are many fantastic looking themes to choose from, their overly elaborate designs can sometimes hinder loading times.
Whenever you browse the internet, your web browser stores data locally on your computer. This avoids the need to keep downloading the same data over and over again from a website server, resulting in faster page loading speeds. This process is known as (client-side) caching. It is possible to employ this same method of speed optimisation for WordPress, as well. This is known as server-side caching and it’s crucial to providing better website performance. WordPress is capable of caching many different types of data, including HTML pages, database queries, PHP caching and more.
Here’s a list of some of the more popular WordPress caching plugins:
Images play a major role in web design aesthetics and many modern sites feature large header images that span the entire length of your screen. Additionally, home pages often feature multiple header images that cycle through in a carousel fashion, known as sliders. Whilst images are an essential element, they typically account for the majority of data that needs to be downloaded for each web page, so it’s important that they are suitably optimised to help ensure fast page load speeds.
Here’s a number of ways to help optimise your images:
Your home page is the most visited page on your website so it’s important that it loads as fast as possible. To do so, be mindful of the following:
Hotlinking is the process of displaying an element on your site such as an image or linking to a file hosted on someone else’s website – without their permission. In other words, it’s the unauthorised use (theft) of someone else’s bandwidth. The strain on your server due to somebody hotlinking your files can impact the speed of your website, so it’s important that you prevent it from happening. There’s a good article published on Media Temple which explains how to prevent hotlinking.