As wonderful as the WordPress content management system is, by its very nature—capable of supporting hundreds of different themes, thousands of plugins and so much more—it can be quite slow at times. And that slowness can mean a lot to a popular blogger trying to retain a loyal readership or, more critically, to someone running an e-commerce site where dollar and cents are vital to staying in business.
Indeed, frustration abounds when users land on a page they’re eager to explore only to find it sluggish and non-responsive. And when that frustration finally boils over potential customers, clients and subscribers may quickly abandon their efforts and go elsewhere. Remember this always: when a visitor first lands on your site their initial impression is everything. A page that is lethargic is a giant turn-off, and web design experts estimate that even a two-second delay translates to more than a five percent decrease in user satisfaction, reduced click-throughs and lost revenue. And to make the situation even more serious to a site administrator, consider this: speed now figures prominently into Google rankings, so you may very well be losing massive amounts of attention during searches.
Thankfully, if you find that your site is slow (and you should be checking it often to make sure it’s running at its very best) there are lots of things you can do to increase speeds on page load times, check-out process responsiveness and the like.
- How’s your hosting? Too many people try to save money by choosing a shared hosting service, but this can be a big mistake. If you publish a lot or have a dedicated clientele base that visits often you should absolutely pick a host such as WP Engine or another dedicated server. And with such hosting you also get better support if your site ever goes down.
- There are so many great themes, both free and paid, available to you when building your site, but they are certainly not all created equal. Themes based on complex frameworks tend to be prone to slowness due to the sheer number of features they come with, many of which you most likely don’t need. So keep it simple and choose a theme that only contains what you require to keep your site looking and running great.
- Think about image optimization. There are some great plugins available that will automatically reduce the file size of your photos and other imagery (without reducing their quality), and make them load faster. And the programs do their work as you upload pictures, so there’s nothing extra for you to do.
- Speaking of optimization, remember that your homepage is (obviously) the first thing visitors see, so it should of course load quickly and render perfectly. So show little excerpts of posts or other content rather than everything right off the bat; keep the homepage simple by not trying to cram too much on it; ditch widgets that aren’t absolutely necessary for navigation; and dump plugins that you don’t need and aren’t using.
- Make your database sleek and streamlined by installing the WP-Optimize plugin which reduces all the drag your programs put on your site and gets rid of or archives spam, previous versions of posts and the like. Indeed, speaking of post revisions, WordPress automatically saves them every time and forever so be sure to get rid of them when you can and only keep one or two in case you lose your most current edited version.
- Disable “hotlinking,” which is basically the equivalent of someone stealing your bandwidth. This happens when other sites create direct links to the imagery on your site and puts too much drag on your server load. You’ll probably need some help to accomplish this one but basically you’ll need to place a code in your “.htaccess” file. If you aren’t sure call in an expert (Byte Technology can absolutely help!) And while you’re calling on the experts, have them replace PHP with static HTML where possible. This can cut down on load times considerably and give your site seriously fast responsiveness.