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Guide to Improve WordPress Website Speed and Performance

The Ultimate Guide to Improve Your WordPress Website Speed and Performance

Aamir Qutub
Aamir Qutub
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Google research study indicates that 53% of people abandon the website if its load time exceeds 3 seconds. This is a scary number for websites that are sluggish and not speed-optimised.

In today’s world, attention spans are short, and expectations for swift online experiences are high. Therefore, your website’s loading time highly influences user satisfaction and impacts search engine rankings for overall business success.

So, is your WordPress website slow and underperforming?

Worry not! We can help you by providing the exact solution.

Understand how to improve your WordPress speed and performance with this ultimate guide. Here you’ll learn how to optimise your site on various parameters and understand the fundamental processes to troubleshoot the speed and performance-related common issues to provide a smooth and serene user experience to your customers.

So, let’s work on enhancing your WordPress speed and performance to elevate its value.

What Makes Improving WordPress Website Speed Important?

WordPress dominates the website-building market worldwide, and there’s no doubt that most organisations (big or small) rely their businesses on this platform.

Fact Check! 

  • 500+ businesses every day are selecting WordPress for opening their websites, making it one of the most popular platforms worldwide.
  •  WordPress powers 43% of the websites globally
  •  WordPress claims 60.8% of the CMS market share.
  •  14.7% of the world’s most esteemed websites work on the WordPress platform.
  •  The WordPress Plugin Directory includes 60,000+ free plugins for its user base.

[Also read: Why WordPress is the Perfect Choice for Your Business?]

However, you must also realise that your WordPress speed highly impacts making or breaking your online success.

A fast-loading website contributes significantly to a positive user experience. Visitors expect pages to load quickly and smoothly, and they are more likely to stay and engage with your content if your site meets these expectations. In contrast, a sluggish website can frustrate users, leading to higher bounce rates and a negative perception of your brand.

Therefore, a speedy website is essential for the following reasons:

  • Search Engine Ranking
    A fast-loading website is more likely to appear higher in SERPS, making it easier for potential visitors to discover your content.
  • Conversion Rates
    Faster loading websites profoundly impact your conversion rates, leading to improved user engagement and, ultimately, more revenue.

     The Strangeloop case study involving Google and Amazon, along with other websites, clearly states that the delay of a second in website load time may lead to a heavy loss of 7% conversions, 11% fewer page views and a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.

    Strangeloop case study showing conversion loss due to delay in website load time.
    [Source: WPbeginner]

  • Mobile Friendliness
    Mobile users are even more sensitive to slow load times. Ensuring that your WordPress website loads quickly on mobile devices is essential to cater to this significant portion of your audience.
  • Reduced Bounce Rate
    By speeding up your WordPress website, you can keep visitors engaged and reduce bounce rates, which is particularly important for content-heavy websites.
  • Improved SEO Performance
    Google considers the speed of web page load time a ranking factor, which means faster websites are more efficiently crawled and indexed. This can positively affect your SEO, helping your site rank higher in search results.

WordPress website development services

Why is Your WordPress Website Speed Slowing Down?

Understanding the root causes of slow website performance is the first step toward optimising your WordPress site for speed and ensuring a seamless online experience for your visitors.

Let us identify and address some of the common causes responsible for creating WordPress speed problems below:

1. Hosting Issues

  • Low-Quality Hosting – Cheap or shared hosting plans often result in slower website performance due to limited resources and server congestion.
  • Inadequate Server Resources – Insufficient CPU, RAM, or bandwidth can lead to slower loading times, especially during traffic spikes.

2. Large Media Files

Large, unoptimised media files can significantly slow down your website. Compress and optimise images and videos before uploading them to your site.

3. Too Many Plugins

Overloading your website with plugins can lead to slower loading times. Some plugins may be poorly coded or incompatible with each other, causing conflicts and performance issues.

4. Too Many HTTP Requests

Loading external resources such as fonts, scripts, or social media widgets can increase the number of HTTP requests, leading to slower page loading times.

5. No Caching Mechanism

Without caching, your website may need to generate pages dynamically for each visitor, which can be resource-intensive. Implement caching to serve pre-generated pages to users, reducing server load and speeding up load times.

Check Your WordPress Website Speed!

Find your WordPress website load time by using any of these highly acclaimed WordPress load testing and speed test tools:

  • IsItWP Website Speed Tester
  • Google PageSpeed Insights
  • GTmetrix
  • Fast or Slow
  • WebPagetest
  • Pingdom

6. Inadequate Content Delivery

Serving content from a single server can slow down your website, especially for users far from the server’s location. A CDN is a network that distributes your content across multiple servers globally, reducing latency and speeding up delivery.

7. Unoptimised Databases and Queries

Poorly optimised database queries can significantly slow down your site. Ensure your website’s code is efficient in retrieving and processing data from the database.

[Also read: Your go-to guide for WordPress Maintenance]

How to Improve the Speed and Performance of Your WordPress Website?

The solutions given here for how to increase WordPress website speed, apply to your individual requirements. You can run a speed check on your website, understand the primary reasons for slow speed and use them to turbocharge your WordPress website for peak performance. So, let’s understand these solutions one by one below:

1. Choose the Right Hosting Provider

The foundation of a speedy website begins with selecting the right hosting provider. To make the informed choice, assess your website’s specific requirements, like expected traffic volume and the complexity of your website.

Another critical factor here is to check for hosting providers that offer speed-focused features, such as solid-state drives (SSD) for storage, LiteSpeed or Nginx web servers, and HTTP/2 support, as these can significantly improve website speed.

While selecting the hosting provider, you must understand the type of hosting you require for your website. There are several types of hosting, including shared hosting, VPS (Virtual Private Server), dedicated hosting, and managed WordPress hosting.

Hosting providers for WordPress Website

Shared hosting is the least expensive but may not provide the performance required for larger websites. VPS and dedicated hosting offer more resources, while managed WordPress hosting is optimised specifically for WordPress sites.

Carefully evaluate your hosting needs while selecting the right hosting provider for your WordPress website. A high-performance hosting environment is the foundation for a faster and more responsive website.

2. Opt for a Light Weight Theme

Your chosen themes have a significant impact on your site’s speed. Opting for a lightweight theme is an effective way to improve the speed and performance of your WordPress website.

While picking a theme for your WordPress website, prioritise lightweight themes designed for speed. Themes that offer glittery features like widgets, sidebar, content, slider, etc., can slow down the responses of your hosting server and weigh down your website performance.

Some of the lightweight themes for your WordPress website are:

  • Astra – Astra is a lightweight, highly customisable theme designed for speed and performance. It offers a variety of starter templates for different niches and integrates seamlessly with popular page builders.
  • GeneratePress – GeneratePress is known for its simplicity and speed. It’s a lightweight theme focusing on clean code and optimal performance. It’s an excellent choice for a fast and minimalistic theme.
  • Neve – Neve is a lightweight and feature-rich theme that offers fast loading times and a mobile-first approach. Neve includes various customisation options and works well with page builders like Elementor.
  • Schema Lite – Schema Lite is a lightweight, SEO-friendly theme for bloggers and content creators. It adheres to best practices for increasing the speed by providing a clean and minimalistic design.
  • Ocean WP – OceanWP is a lightweight and highly extendable theme. It offers numerous customisation options and is optimised for fast loading. It’s suitable for a wide range of website types.

Themes with clean, efficient code load faster and put less strain on your server. Before committing to a theme, you must test its page speed using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix to ensure desired performance.

3. Implementing WordPress Caching Plugins

One of the most significant and well-known methods of speeding up your WordPress website is installing the cache plugins. The WordPress cache level plugins help reduce server load by eliminating several steps and deliver cached, pre-rendered versions of your pages to visitors, resulting in faster load times.
Implementing WordPress Caching Plugins

[Source: WPbeginner]

This means these smart cache plugins store the static copies of the final view of your site, such as pages and images for future users so that these files can be displayed quickly while reducing the extra burden on your web server.

These best speed optimisation plugins in WordPress are especially beneficial during traffic spikes or when multiple users access your site simultaneously.

Let’s check-out some Popular Caching Plugins for Your WordPress Website!

There are several popular caching plugins available for WordPress, including W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, WP Rocket, and Cache Enabler. Choose the one that best suits your needs, considering factors like ease of use and compatibility with your hosting environment.

Configure your chosen caching plugin to work optimally for your website and monitor your website’s performance using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix. Regularly test your site to ensure the caching functions correctly and effectively, improving speed.

4. Optimise Images and Media

Visual content plays a significant role in drawing the attention span of visitors to your website. Research says that 90% of your information is transmitted to the user’s brains through well-displayed images or graphics.

Color Psychology

[Source: Shiftelearning]

Hence, including images and graphic content on your web pages is a strategic approach to increasing the content readability ratio. However, unoptimised visual content may hurt your website’s performance instead of helping and may become a principal reason for lowering its speed.

Therefore, optimising images and media is a critical step in boosting the performance and speed of your WordPress website.

For optimising the images and media:

  1. Begin by selecting the appropriate image format for your content.
  2. For photographs and images with many colours, use JPEG.
  3. For images with transparency, like logos, use PNG.
  4. Consider using modern formats like WebP, which provide good image quality and smaller file sizes.

Use the following chart to understand how the different image formats have a direct impact on compressing the file sizes for the overall performance of your website.

different image formats have a direct impact on compressing the file sizes

[Source: Medium]

For further WordPress speed optimisation, compress your images to reduce file sizes without significantly compromising quality. Several WordPress plugins can help with this, such as WP Smush, ShortPixel, and EWWW Image Optimizer.

5. Leverage a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

The location of your web hosting provider can highly impact the speed of your website. To comprehend this, let’s understand it through a simple example.

Suppose you want to create your WordPress website and hire a hosting service provider company. Now, assume the company that you hired for hosting is from Australia. In that case, the servers of this company will also be located in Australia and will work best in that region.

Under such a condition, the visitors in that region will get a better load boosting time of your website as compared to those who are from other places like Europe or the USA, etc.

Therefore, by leveraging a Content Delivery Network (CDN), you can curb these issues easily and improve the speed and performance of your website. CDNs distribute your website’s content across multiple servers worldwide, reducing latency and speeding up content delivery to users.

website speed with and without CDN
[Source: Coolfundas]

CDN is a network that includes all the servers worldwide and stores the static files (without changing the JavaScript, CSS and Images) of your website. The CDN then serves the static files to your global visitors from the closest server, which increases the load time eventually.

Select a Reputed CDN Provider!

 Some well-known CDN services include Cloudflare, StackPath, KeyCDN, Akamai, and Amazon CloudFront. Each provider offers different features and pricing options, so choose one that aligns with your website’s needs.

If you use CDN, your prime web hosting server company will also provide faster service as most of the burden will be taken over by CDN.

6. Minimise HTTP Request

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) requests are a set of rules or protocols for transferring data between a web browser (the client) and a web server (the host). Whenever visitors visit any website, your browser sends HTTP requests to the server to retrieve web pages, images, scripts, and other resources.

Let’s understand the HTTP request in the following manner:

When someone visits your site using a web browser, the browser requests files to download, which are present on your website in the form of images, pages and content. These requests occur in the form of HTTP requests.

Now, as the HTTP requests occur, the website server returns all the required files to the browser for download. As all the files are loaded in the visitors’ browser, they can view and interact with your website.

Here, the notable point is that the more files your website contains, the more HTTP requests will occur, making your site slow and sluggish. The same is the case when the file size is large. For the bigger file size, HTTP requests will take longer to load to the browser, again duping your WordPress performance.

Http requests and WordPress website speed

Hence, reduce the HTTP requests by minimising the file size and number. You can curtail the HTTP request by following the given method:

  • Combine and minify CSS and JavaScript files
  • Reduce the number of image requests by using image sprites
  • Implement lazy loading for images and videos.
  • Limit the use of external scripts and resources.
  • Leverage browser caching to reduce redundant requests
  • Utilise a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to optimise content delivery
  • Optimise your website’s structure and reduce unnecessary elements

7. Optimise and Limit Plugins

Optimising and limiting the use of plugins is another crucial step for enhancing the performance of your WordPress website. Unnecessary or poorly coded plugins can significantly impact loading times and cause other issues.

Many plugins make database queries, which can slow down your site. Limiting the number of plugins can reduce the number of database queries, leading to faster page loading times. Also, fewer plugins reduce the server load by spending less on executing scripts and codes, thus increasing the response time and enhancing website performance.

[Also read: WordPress Plugin Development Guide]

To optimise and limit your plugins effectively:

  • Evaluate the Necessity – Review your plugins and consider whether each one is essential for your website’s functionality. Deactivate or remove unnecessary plugins.
  • Choose Lightweight and Well-Optimised Plugins – When selecting new plugins, prioritise lightweight and well-optimised options. Check user reviews and ratings to ensure their quality.
  • Use Multipurpose Plugins – When possible, choose multipurpose plugins that offer multiple features within a single package.
  • Limit Social Sharing Buttons – Limit the number of social sharing buttons on your site, and only use the most essential options.Monitor Website
  • Performance – Regularly check your website’s loading times with performance monitoring tools. This can help you identify plugins that may be impacting speed.

Wrapping Up

Enhancing the speed and performance of your WordPress website is a vital step in providing a better user experience, enhancing search engine rankings, and achieving overall success. By implementing a combination of strategies mentioned above, you can significantly boost your website’s speed.

A seasoned WordPress developer understands these strategies and techniques and leaves no stone unturned in making your site a stunning experience for you and your user base. Therefore, if you find it challenging to comprehend the WordPress website performance best practices, hire a professional WordPress development company and stand out strong in this competitive landscape.

Aamir Qutub
Aamir Qutub
CEO of Enterprise Monkey
Aamir Qutub is the founder and CEO of Enterprise Monkey, has a sincere passion for innovation and startups. With an experience of around a decade, he is a proud co-founder of 4 technology startups, focusing on real-world problems and their solutions. He also loves to cook and spend time with his onlyborn.
Aamir Qutub
Aamir Qutub
Aamir Qutub is the founder and CEO of Enterprise Monkey, has a sincere passion for innovation and startups. With an experience of around a decade, he is a proud co-founder of 4 technology startups, focusing on real-world problems and their solutions. He also loves to cook and spend time with his onlyborn.

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