Regardless of whether your WordPress site is for personal or business use, it’s infuriating when it loads so slowly you can fix yourself a cup of coffee before it’s up and running.
Almost half of your website’s visitors expect your site to load in under two seconds. Pretty harsh, right? That’s the reality, though– in the digital ecology we live in today, your website has to keep up to stay afloat.
If you’re tired of asking yourself “Why is WordPress so slow?!” every time you open your browser, read on for solutions on how to make WordPress faster.
Pick a Good Host
In the early stages of your site, you’re probably trying to cut costs everywhere you can. You’re not alone in that mission, which is why discount shared servers are so popular– and so slow.
Once your site becomes popular, it’s going to have real trouble loading in less than two seconds for the influx of unique visitors you’re going to get. Invest a little more to avoid that headache entirely down the line.
Hosts like WP Engine might cost a little more, but your site will load at record speeds and you’ll be on the receiving end of a much more pleasant customer service experience should something go wrong.
Check Your Site Speed
Don’t make the mistake of assuming your site is loading fast just because it’s acting that way on your computer. There are tons of factors that can skew that self-assessment, from your internet speed to your computer’s stats.
It doesn’t matter how fast it loads for you, it matters how fast it loads for your readers.
That’s why it’s essential to check your site’s speed on a site like Pingdom. Most speed check sites are free to use, and they’ll give you detailed reports on what’s slowing down your site at any given time.
High-quality images are one of the most important elements of a website, it’s true. They increase your SEO and garner instant interest in your readers.
If you’re not aware of their size, though, they could be immensely slowing down your site’s loading speed.
There are two things you can do to optimize your images to make them load faster.
First, make sure you’re using images that are the right size for their container. Check your theme’s container width, and resize your images so the long edge is the same (or less than) that number of pixels. This will not only speed up the image’s loading time, but it’ll also make your site look cleaner.
Second, make sure you’re compressing your images before adding them to your site. Services like WP Smush offer lossless compression that will make your images smaller without sacrificing quality.
Use a Simple Theme
It’s fun to browse WordPress themes— some are so extravagant that it’s tempting to choose them for your blog. Don’t give way to those temptations, though, as complicated WordPress themes will yield super slow loading times.
Stick to simple themes with minimal plugins and clean code. You might think they’re boring, but readers actually prefer minimal sites that are easier to navigate to ones with lots of containers and buttons.
Your site’s speed is way more important than featuring an archive, search function, Instagram feed, Twitter feed, profile photo, and three text boxes in the sidebar. Promise.
Embrace Content Delivery Networks
Content delivery networks, or CDNs, are a great way to utilize location-based servers to increase download speed. Here’s how they work.
Makes sense, right?
There are tons of CDNs out there, and some work better than others. If you’re just getting started, here’s a WordPress plugin for a free CDN to get you going.
Optimize Homepage Settings
Besides using a clean theme in the first place, there are a few simple things you can toggle in your settings to make your homepage load faster.
First, choose to show post excerpts rather than entire blog posts. They’re enough to get your reader interested without the site having the load entire blog posts upon arrival.
You can also choose to show fewer posts on your homepage. Keep it to 7 maximum for the fastest loading speed.
If you’re not using certain default widgets, get rid of them! This will make room for plugins and widgets you actually want to use. Don’t just leave them there if you’re not using them.
Finally, focus on the content. Remember that that’s why your visitors are here, not to marvel at your site’s design. Keep it simple to make their experience better and speed up your loading times.
Prevent Hotlinking to Your Images
Sometimes, it only takes one strong feature of one of your images to make that image spread like wildfire. Whether it’s done intentionally or not, that will breed hotlinking. Hotlinking is when your image is directly linked by others’ articles, which sends traffic to your site for the wrong reasons.
Add language to disable hotlinking in your code. It’s pretty simple, and will prevent your site from being bogged down by other sites’ visitors.
Clean up Your Code
As you edit and change your WordPress theme’s, WordPress will edit the code accordingly. Over years and even months, these alterations can make for messy code that slows your site down.
You don’t have to be an expert in coding to clean it up, though. You can use a plugin like Autoptimize that finds unnecessary coding language and erases it for you. It won’t delete anything you’re currently using, so rest assured it’ll only do good.
Setting up to Avoid Needing to Make WordPress Faster Later
If you’re just starting out with your WordPress site, you can avoid the need to make WordPress faster down the line by optimizing your setup from the get-go.
Check out our other articles on setting up your WordPress site to make sure you’re making the right choices for a fast loading speed before it becomes a problem!