Web Design Tips: How to Increase The Speed of Your WordPress Site

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By | Jan 13, 2016

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Similar to other systems, a brand new WordPress functions seamlessly and is super-fast in its operations at the beginning. However, as the days go by, and the site’s usage increases, you’ll reckon that it becomes slower. These slow-downs are often as a result of your site gathering clutters that make WordPress heavier and subsequently slower. The good thing about it though is that you can get your site back to its best (both in terms of speed and performance) with only a few simple fixes and tweaks.

Here are 10 simple things to do to speed up your WP site.

1. Optimize Your Site's Images for the Web

Generally, humans are visual beings which mean adding images helps make your site more attractive to users while also enhancing their engagement. However, images can also consume much of your web resources thereby resulting in slow load times. We all know how this can negatively impact user experience, right?

So, what should you do? Well, you can use various image editing programs such as Photoshop or Gimp to size down and optimize your images for the web. Alternatively, consider adding the EWWW Image Optimizer plugin that automatically optimizes any images added to your WordPress.

2. Add a Caching Plugin

If your website is hosted on shared hosting, chances are high that it’s competing for various resources with a lot others. As such, every time a user requests a page on your website, your server slows down as it initiates the resource-intensive PHP process. However, you can use a caching plugin to cut down most of these requests, instead showing a cached page. To make your website even faster, combine your cached pages with a gzip compression.

Alternatively, you can use a caching plugin such as the W3 Total Cache or Super Cache plugin to cache your WordPress pages.

3. Use a CDN

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) helps you connect to various servers across the world. The network allows you to serve various WP static files such as style sheets, images and JavaScript from these servers. Some of the most popular CDN service providers include Amazon Cloud Front, CloudFlare, and MaxCDN. All these providers are easy to configure and work seamlessly with a majority of available caching plugins.

4. Optimize your WordPress Database Tables

WordPress uses a powerful MySQL database to store all your site’s data. As such, your site’s database is bound to gather tons of data that may not be of any use to you. Some of the common useless data your database might be storing include spam comments, posts revisions, non-usable tables left behind by plugins, etc.

While it is not very clear whether having these data in your database affects the load speed of your site, we recommend that you clean up your database just for the purpose of decreasing your backup size. You can use the highly-effective WP-Optimizer plugin to optimize and decongest your WP database.

5. Minimize Your Page Load Requests

Adding plugins to your site can immensely enhance your WP site’s performance. However, most of these plugins load additional style sheets and scripts that consequently increase your site’s load time. To avoid this, try to minimize the number of requests by staying clear of plugins that add too many scripts to your website’s header and footer. To point out such plugins, check your site’s source code to locate requests to the .js or .css files. For advanced WP users, try to combine all scripts loaded by your plugin in one script.

6. Use Excerpts on Your Homepage and Archives

By default, WordPress displays full articles (complete with images) on several key pages of your site such as the homepage, author page, and the archives. Of course, this can be detrimental to your site load speeds considering that each of these pages possibly have multiple posts on them.

A better approach to this issue is to only show summaries of these articles in place of the full articles which enhances not only your site's speed but also increases your individual page views. Besides, using excerpts also offers an excellent way to avoid Google’s duplicate content penalty.

7. Adopt a Third-party Commenting System

Let’s admit it, we all love seeing our audience contribute to our blog posts as this translates to more user engagement that’s crucial in building improved relationships with them. Unfortunately, users are likely to experience a lag whenever they try to load pages that contain posts piled with comments. This is mainly attributed to the intense congestion experienced by your shared hosting server whenever users comment simultaneously on that post. To avoid this problem, consider adopting a 3rd party commenting system such as Disqus, LiveFyre, or even Facebook comments. These type of systems load asynchronously and only do it when users scroll down to the comment area.

8. Use Cloudflare to Shun DDOS Attacks

With DDOS attacks (Denial of Service) increasingly becoming more prevalent by the day, it’s only imperative that you devise a method you can use to stop them. This becomes even more urgent if your site is hosted on a shared hosting server. As such, get a CDN and a firewall from CloudFlare to protect your WP site from both DDOS attacks and MySQL injections that could pose an enormous threat to your site's operations. CloudFlare is also capable of showing a cached version of your site to your visitors whenever your site is down following an attack.

9. Use Lazy Load for Videos Plugin

You’ll hardly get any content that’s more engaging than videos. Luckily, WordPress allows easy embedment of videos from numerous video hosting sites such as YouTube and Vimeo. But there’s one problem - most video players used today are likely to load slower than your site. The good news though is that a WP plugin by the name Lazy Load for Videos can solve this issue quite easily. The plugin helps to replace your site’s video player with a thumbnail and a clickable play button. This means that your video player only loads when a visitor clicks the play button. If your site curates videos, then this might be another must-have plugin for you.

10. Add Lazy Load Social Media Buttons

Having social sharing buttons for your posts can be vital especially if your aim is to create viral content. However, these buttons can slow down your site since they come with additional loadable images and JavaScript.

To minimize this effect, ensure that your social sharing plugins asynchronously load your social buttons. You'll, however, find out that a majority of these plugins enable the same by default. If not, you'll need to enable them manually. Some of the best plugins to use here include Share This and Add to Any WordPress.

Web Design / Development / WordPress Speed Overview

Looking at the list of the to-do things outlined above, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of work needed to optimize you WP site for speed and performance. However, the sacrifice is worth it and pays handsomely in the end. You’ll surely reap more benefits compared to the cost of all efforts placed in carrying out the outlined tweaks and fixes.

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