Sometimes overlooked, the loading speed of a site is a fundamental parameter for two reasons. On the one hand, a site that is too slow contributes to the degradation – sometimes to a considerable extent – of the user experience. Nobody likes to sail on a rowing site. The slowness of a site results in an increase in the bounce rate, shorter session times, fewer page views and, ultimately, a deterioration in performance indicators. On the other hand, the speed of loading a website has an impact on its SEO performance. Google especially does not like sites too slow and does not hesitate to penalize them by penalizing their positions. You need to work at all costs on the loading speed of your site. Here are 9 tips or tricks to improve the loading speed of your WordPress website. You may also want to read about Why You Choose WordPress and What What Are The Differences Between WordPress.org and WordPress.com
Measure The Current Performance of Your WordPress Site
Before you even talk about techniques to improve the speed of a WordPress website, here are some tools that will allow you to calculate the loading time of your site, to make an inventory. There are loads of online tools to measure site speed:
- GTmetrix, Pingdom Tools
- Web Page Analyzer
- Load Impact
- Octa Gate SiteTimer
- WebPage Test
- Yotaa (E-Commerce)
It is advisable to use several measurement tools for your tests and not to limit yourself to one. This makes it possible to cross-check and obtain more reliable results.
Google PageSpeed Insights, is one of the reference tools. This service makes it possible to obtain an “objective” evaluation of the loading speed of your site on both mobile and computer. The performance of a site is often variable depending on the terminals used, the location of the servers, etc. Another advantage of PageSpeed Insights is that the service gives you personalized advice, prioritized, to remedy any failures identified during the test (regarding the weight of your images, the management of JS and CSS files, caching, etc.).
Delete Unnecessary WordPress Plugins
Let’s move on to optimizing the speed of your site. Examine Plugins first. WordPress is known for offering hundreds, and even thousands of Plugins. This is what largely makes up the richness and interest of this widely used CMS. As a result, we instinctively tend to want to install as many plugins as possible to increase the functionality of its WordPress site. This is a serious mistake. What counts is the quality of the plugins used, not the quantity. This is valid for all CMS, but especially for WordPress which has a gigantic developer community but not always very experienced (or rather: who are not always looking at the weight of their plugins). The idea is to use as few plugins as possible and avoid plugins that you are not sure of the quality. Remove especially all plugins that are a duplicate. It is not uncommon to try to test several almost identical plugins in order to make a choice. That’s fine, but once you’ve picked the one that’s right for you, remove all the others. Besides, for plugins with equivalent or very similar functionality, find out which one is the least resource intensive. But once you have chosen the one that suits you, remove all the others. Besides, for plugins with equivalent or very similar functionality, find out which one is the least resource intensive. But once you have chosen the one that suits you, remove all the others. Besides, for plugins with equivalent or very similar functionality, find out which one is the least resource intensive.
Note: If you prefer, you can just disable unused plugins. But ideally, it is better to remove them. If you do not use certain plugins at all, why keep them? Ultimately, disable plugins that you use regularly but occasionally. It’s always better than leaving it active and it will save you from having to reparametrize them the next time you use it.
Regularly, make a list of all the plugins you have downloaded (whether they are enabled or disabled) and do the homework. This will prevent plugins from accumulating over time. Remove unnecessary plugins or in any case bring less than they do to the speed of your site. Lastly, try to use multifunctional plugins of the Yoast type, which allows you to manage the SEO part of your site and also create sitemaps.
How to determine the impact of your plugins on the loading speed of your WordPress site? Good question! The answer is simple: install the Plugin Performance Profiler (P3), developed by Go Daddy. For the blow, this plugin is worth it and is not a gadget. To be consistent with what we have just said, consider removing the P3 plugin after your diagnosis!
Note: The Plugins used to create share bars on social networks are known to slow down the speed of loading, because of the computer languages they use. If possible, try to do without them and replace the bars with simple buttons.
Choose Best Hosting Plan According To Your Needs
The quality of hosting plays on the speed of loading your site. A site may very well be perfectly configured but be slow for the simple reason that the server it uses is not performing. There are, roughly speaking, three types of hosting:
- Shared hosting: You share the resources of the same server with other clients of the host. This type of hosting, the cheapest, is only viable for sites with low traffic and low resource consumption (blogs or small business showcases). It is enough that sites hosted on the shared server consume a lot of resources to slow down your own site (the host may take the time to reframe the sites too greedy). This is the eternal problem of colocation …
- Dedicated hosting: you rent from the host a server for you alone (it is dedicated to you: hence the name). Dedicated hosting is one that is best suited for e-commerce sites or high traffic blogs. This type of hosting makes it possible to manage the administration of the server, contrary to the shared hosting: a shared server is managed and parameterized by the host.
- Virtual hosting (VPS): halfway between shared hosting and dedicated hosting. The principle is to rent or buy a part of a dedicated server to make it a virtual server administered by you.
You must choose the type of hosting that best fits your needs. If you have an e-commerce site and you are on a shared server, there is a good chance that it slows down your site. But conversely, it is perfectly useless to rent a dedicated server if you have a small blog. In the latter case, shared hosting is largely sufficient.
Note: Because of the WordPress sites, it is important to note that there are dedicated hosting options optimized for WordPress sites, such as Bluehost. By far the most expensive plan, WP server hosting is a serious guarantee. In this case (Bluehost), your web host will inform you regularly about the performance of your site and the plugins that may help to slow it down. Through Bluehost, you will also benefit from regular backups of your WordPress website.
Tip: Most speed measurement tools will tell you how fast your server is responding. This is a good way to determine if your hosting is suitable or not, needs to be changed or not. Another tip: choose an SSD hosting. They are, all other things being equal, faster and not more expensive than the others. Do not hesitate to consult comparisons to choose the right web host.
Reduce The Weight Of Images
Images are important consumers of server resources. It is often the elements of your pages that take up the most room. This is the reason why good image management is absolutely decisive for improving the speed of your site. It should be noted that few webmasters take care to optimize the images. It is a mistake. The ideal is to find the balance between quality and weight of the image. To reduce the weight of an image, there are three solutions:
- Compress the image: use TinyPNG for example to compress your PNG images and your JPEG images. It is a free online solution up to a certain point (paying from a certain volume of images to be compressed).
- Change format: some formats are heavier than others. Prefer JPEG to PNG for example (except for small images, icons, logos, etc.). Use the GIF only for animations (so convert your GIF images to JPEG or PNG).
- Reduce dimensions: the smaller the dimensions, the lighter the image.
There is much software to reduce the weight of images before importing into the WP library, such as GIMP for example (free open source software) or simply Paint. If now you already have a consistent library of images in WordPress and you do not have the motivation or time to retreat them one by one, there is another solution. There are indeed plugins that automatically optimize your WordPress images, both those that are already uploaded to the library and the ones you add. Make a backup before installing this kind of plugins, as a precaution. Here are two of the best plugins on the market:
- WP Smush.It: This plugin allows you to compress all the images in your library and automatically process any new images you import into WordPress. The disadvantage of WP Smush.it is that it can not process images whose weight is greater than 1 MB or those that are hosted on a CDN server. That’s why it’s always preferable to treat your images yourself from a software before importing them.
- Imsanity: With this plugin, you can define a maximum dimension for all your images. Example: limit the maximum width of your images to 1024px. Imsanity does not act on the weight of the image, but only on its dimensions (even if the two are related of course). Insanity offers some additional features: it allows for example to convert the formats of images (BMP è JPEG for example).
Compress JavaSript and CSS Files
Caution, compressing these files may disrupt the display of your site. You need to do some testing to find out how far compression is possible to avoid the disaster!
Using a Cache Plugin
Cache aims to reduce the number of resources used by servers by reducing the number of requests. It is not a question here of explaining in detail what caching consists of. Simply, the principle is to reduce the number of requests launched when loading a page by saving queries already sent (in a cache precisely). From the point of view of a visitor, the idea is to make sure that his browser does not have to reload each item of your pages on each visit. Only new items will be loaded, the others will have been saved on previous visits and transformed into static files. The more a visitor comes back to your site, the more effective the caching will be and the smoother the navigation. On your side,
Establish a CDN
We recommend using MaxCDN or CloudFlare. This latest CDN is free, easily integrated into WordPress and has a very wide network of servers (24 datacenters currently distributed on all continents except Africa). Another interesting point: CloudFlare does not hide HTML, so your visitors will always have access to the latest versions of your text content. The cache is not always adapted to the contents that evolve quickly (updates of articles, etc.).
Note: The use of a CDN is all the more interesting because a significant part of your traffic comes from the international. If your visitors are 95% French or Belgian, the relevance of a CDN is not obvious (assuming that your site is hosted in France). Besides, another note, the choice of the good CDN depends in large part on the origin of your traffic. You will need to choose the CDN that has servers located in the geographic areas from which your traffic originated. Last small note: the use of a complete CDN but does not replace the use of a cache plugin.
Limit The Number Of Revisions Of Your Pages
The ability of WordPress to natively access different revisions on your pages or articles is often very useful. This makes it possible to cancel certain modifications, to go back, to compare the different versions, etc. Nevertheless, this possibility has the disadvantages of its advantages: all the versions of your pages are preserved. Whenever you update an article, for example, a new version is automatically generated (even if you only correct two or three spelling mistakes …). It is not uncommon for a page to have more than 10 versions.
It is possible to limit the number of versions or even to simply remove this functionality. To do this, you must insert pieces of code into the wp-config.php file of your WordPress site. If you want WordPress to make no more backups of your previous page versions, you must disable the Post Revisions function by inserting the following code:
- Define (‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, false);
If you prefer to limit the number of saved versions (to 5 per page for example), you will have to use this code:
- Define (‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, 5);
Choose A Light WordPress Theme
We could have addressed this point first. But if you are reading this article, you probably already have a website. The time of the choice of the theme has already passed for you. Better try to improve your site using the techniques suggested above before considering the possibility of changing the theme (sometimes expensive operation). This last point is addressed to those who have not yet created their site, or to those who, after having carefully thought out, have decided to change the theme of their site.
The choice of a WordPress theme is based on aesthetic and ergonomic considerations. But ergonomic themes, full of features and visually beautiful are not always the lightest. It’s normally the other way around. But the weight of a theme must be taken into account in the choice. The heavier the theme, the more likely it will be to slow down the speed of loading your site, sometimes in considerable proportions. Here are some tips for choosing your theme:
- Choose a theme that offers only the features/features you need. Many features are actually gadgets that only serve to weigh down your site. You must be sure to use at least two-thirds of the features proposed by the theme.
- Choose a Responsive Design theme, which allows your site to display optimally on all devices including mobile devices. There are many sites that are fast on the computer, but very slow on mobile. It is becoming less and less acceptable for several reasons.
- Do not necessarily prefer paid themes to free themes. The paid themes tend to be heavier on average than the free themes. In any case, remember that it does not mean anything: the paying themes are not necessarily better optimized in terms of weight. Here is the Truth Behind Free WordPress Themes VS Paid WordPress Themes.
- Avoid themes that are too old, they are usually not or more optimized and help to slow down the loading time.
- Choose a theme that is compatible with the most recent versions of web browsers. The majority of recent themes are compatible in this case. This council, therefore, joins the previous one.
- Do not choose a theme with too many HD images and animations in all directions. Choose a clean, minimalist theme.
- In general, and to summarize, it is a thousand times preferable to choose a simple theme, even if it is more complex to adapt to your needs, than a naturally heavy theme that will be more difficult to make “lose”.
Note: You may be asking yourself a question: how do you rate the weight or performance of a theme before you choose/bought it? There is a very simple method: launch the demo of the theme and do a Pingdom Tools test. You will be able to access all the necessary information from this tool: number of requests, overall weight, compliance with best practices (grades), etc. You should choose which theme to best match to you?
These are some techniques and tips to improve the speed of loading your WordPress website. Most of these recommendations are valid for other CMS. Some of the techniques presented in this article require a minimum of computer knowledge. If you do not have an in-house team competent enough in this area, it is not a drama of course but avoid too much hack. Instead, use an SEO (freelance or agency) expert who will clearly diagnose the problems encountered on your site and define the best actions to take to improve the loading speed of your WP site.