Your WordPress site can be like a cab driver that goes extremely slow. You see other cars passing you by. You’re getting impatient. You finally ask the driver to stop and then you either go on by foot or take a different car. The worst what can happen is that you will be late for the scheduled meeting. But in the digital world, the consequences can be much worse than running behind the timeline. When other websites load faster than yours and show more content in a short time span, yours will gradually lose the traffic – until it experiences a serious search ranking drop. Since we don’t want that happen, let’s have a look at how to speed up WordPress website.
There are two ways of treating your WordPress website performance. Majority of improvements can be done from the level of the WP dashboard. In terms of difficulty, it shouldn’t differ much from adding content or uploading new images. Nevertheless, more advanced solutions require basic coding knowledge and could use a hand of tech-savvy user. However, for now, we are relying on our own insight – and this I will endorse in my text.
Starting from the backbone. You have to make sure that your WordPress uses the latest version of PHP – the programming language that WP runs on. Unlike the easily accessible list of plugins, the information about the PHP update needs to be added to the panel. To confirm the running PHP version, you will need to download the Display PHP version plugin. Once activated, you will find all the numbers in the bottom corner of your dashboard.
Comparing to the earlier versions, the scope of upgrades is definite. From ongoing support, enhanced speed and security to better error-handling, PHP 7 ensures the fastest and the strongest website performance. However, before updating the server, go through the list of extensions and exclude a chance of conflict between their versions and an upcoming PHP boost. To do this quickly, use one of the WP plugins that scan the code and produce a compatibility report, such as PHP Compatibility Checker. To take extra safety measures, prepare a backup of your site before moving forward.
Looking for the right plugin
Rule number one, keep the number of WordPress plugins to the minimum. In a frenzy, you might install several plugins just to check how they feel and how they make the management of your website easier. But plugins are not like holiday gifts that take shelf space and gather dust. On top of everything, they can significantly slow down your website. In the end, there are hundreds of them, but only a few shine and do the mundane maintenance job for you.
But how should you know which plugins to keep and which plugins to get rid of? You will find the answer in the plugin section of the WordPress admin panel.
There is no magic number of plugins that guarantees a smooth control over your site. But those that you don’t need may be troublesome. First, because they can ask for frequent updates. Second, because they can cause conflicts with different plugins, and third because they can be prone to attacks if left to rot by the programmists.
If left inactive, plugins should pose no risk. What is more, there are extensions that automatically clean up your website from unnecessary files. You should, especially, pay your attention to WPRocket and W3TotalCache – the add-ons that we strongly recommend to keep your WordPress in a good condition with just a little effort from the user’s end.
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Taking care of assets
But what about the resources that constitute the site from the user perspective? The most popular combination of assets include texts, images and videos. And while you probably shouldn’t worry about the amount of sheer text, you need to be aware that visuals can significantly slow the page loading time. The rule is simple – the heavier files you upload, the more difficult it would be for the browsers to read and present them. This is bad for business websites exclusively depending on a collection of media, such as portfolios of photographers and architects.
There are at least three methods to reduce the load time of images. One of them is called lazy load and is about displaying images, but also videos, within the viewport. It means that the appearance of all other resources is delayed until the user reaches them with a scroll. It’s usually recommended for galleries and long pages filled with visual materials.
Compression is another way to deal with large images. At this point, any optimization shouldn’t interrupt their quality. It should, among other possible improvements, make the images lighter. But also reduce the number of connections made between the server and them. One excellent tool that handles the job of image trimming is Imagify. This one uses algorithms to process the files and bring up their tuned version.
Finally, the solution for blog lovers who like to write long texts. Sometimes their authors combine words with images to sharpen the reading experience. Loaded in such a form, the text can need a while to be shown in full. So the solution to that is showing only the portions of the article and breaking it into the pieces using easily applicable tags.
- To show the break, in your text editor, add <!–next page–> where you want it to be divided. It will trigger the pagination and move the content below the tag to the next page.
- To make it more simple, you might want to add an extension, such as WP-PageNavi. It will count the pages and organize your articles in the best navigatable way.
You can do it all by yourself
This is the biggest advantage of the changes described in this post. WordPress as such has been designed to be friendly and flexible so that everyone could quickly beef up their website. Changes related to the performance and speed seem to be on top of the long list of what you can do with it. They make a significant difference if treated right. Give it a go, and try it yourself.