WordPress Speed Optimization

WordPress speed optimization is crucial to you and your websites success, however it is often overlooked. When a website loads slowly the sites visitors become impatient and this leads to an overall bad impression and experience. Today however I want to share a few things that I have found to improve page load times and overall speed.

A Good Host

A web host is the foundation for your website, it is the bedrock that everything else is built upon. Without a good web host you are very unlikely to make big differences in your websites speed, however it is still possible to make some improvements to your websites speed.

How to find a good web host? This question gets a little harder to answer in a broad sense, because there is no one size fits all answer to this question. There is no one best web host because every website is different and it’s this difference that means that you will need to decide based on factors for yourself which is best. Factors such as price, support, speed, and services like backups and email options.

A good web host will also take care of a lot of things that you would otherwise have to do like website caching, compressing and use of a content delivery network.

So with that said, Flywheel is the host that I use because they are able to supply a super fast server optimized for WordPress, and take care of a lot of the finer details of speed optimization. Sure there are cheaper hosts with more options but they fit exactly what I need. A Fast web host with a focus on helping web designers and their clients to receive the best possible service that they can. Visit their website.

Good Code

To me good html, css, js and php is something that should be optimized for every website. It is a shame to see a beautiful website that has un-optimized code, although this is rarely the site owners fault but related back to the designer and developer. Optimizing website code is simple and easy when you know what you are doing however without thought at the beginning of a project it can be a big hassle to fix.

So for you as a user there isn’t a whole heap of optimization that you can do for this without an in-depth knowledge, however there are still things that you can do. A must have in my opinion is JS & CSS Script Optimizer. This is a WordPress plugin that optimizes these parts of your website for you automatically. There are other plugins out there that do the same thing but this is the only one that I have found that has worked for me every time I have used it. This plugin combines all the css and javascript that your website uses into a single file for each and then removes anything that is unnecessary from these files so that they are as small as possible and thus load as fast as possible.

Another thing that I like to do when creating websites is I make sure that if I am using any third party css or js like bootstrap or JQuery that I use the scripts from their CDN network as this is a much faster way to fetch these file than from off your own server.

Image Optimization

Images can make a website much slower if they are used incorrectly with file sizes upwards of 2mb for some images it would be ridiculous to use a 4000 x 2600 image on a website. So how do you fix this? Well what I like to do is first before the images ever get uploaded to my website I make sure that they are at an acceptable size, one that will offer a good quality image but keep the image size to a minimum. To do this I use Photoshop and use the export as function and play around with sizes and file formats until I find something that works well. As a general rule of thumb though I like to make sure that for a high quality image I don’t go bigger than 1920 x 1080 and aim for under 300kb in size. This is relatively easy to achieve while still having a high quality image.

On top of this optimization I use a plugin called ewww image optimizer this plugin comes in two flavors a cloud based service and a server-based one. I use the cloud based optimization allowing less load to be placed on the web server that I use. The cloud option does cost a small sum of money but it is well worth the initial investment.

Plugins

After talking about a few plugins above I wanted to share a little more here about them. Never use a plugin for simple functionality, this will always slow down your website. Let me repeat that, avoid using plugins as much as possible. Before you install a plugin thing really hard about if you actually need it and what benefit you are actually gaining from it.

Some plugins are necessary or even essential but the majority of them are used to add things to your website that aren’t essential and sometimes don’t even add any value to your site. I have never made a website that I have needed more than 10 plugins. This is including the basics like the two described above along with SEO plugins.

So basically what I am saying is if you need it add it but unless its vital to your website it will probably be doing more harm than good.

Testing

The last thing that you should do when optimizing your WordPress website for speed is test it. I like to use both Pingdom and GTmetrix these are both online websites that allow you to test the loading times of your website, they also suggest changes that you can make to your website that would help improve these metrics.

So to wrap up you need to start with a great web host like Flywheel, then make sure that your web designer or developer is thinking about speed from the beginning. After that you want to make sure that you are optimizing the images, css and js for the fasted load times possible. On top of this you should be carefully thinking about the plugins that you install on your website. Then once these things are done test your website. See how much it has improved and check if there is anything else that you can do to Optimize your WordPress website more.