As the world’s most popular content management system, WordPress has many advantages ranging from flexibility to simplicity. However, speed isn’t always an attribute. Every additional plugin affects page loading times, impacting on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and public perceptions alike. Even a two-second delay in page responsiveness will reduce engagement and potentially lose custom, while Google’s focus on mobile optimisation discriminates against slow-loading websites.
Optimising WordPress performance has become a delicate balancing act between installing relevant plugins and minimising how much material needs to be downloaded. Fortunately, these tips should improve WordPress performance on any website:
Choose a lightweight framework.
Some themes prioritise aesthetics, whereas others are geared around optimal WordPress performance. Avoid anything too fancy, since modern audiences are more interested in speed than visual trickery. The same is true of Google and Bing – and improving SEO should always be a priority.
Simplify the homepage.
As the only page many visitors will see, this should display within two seconds. There are numerous shortcuts to rapid homepage downloading – displaying post excerpts instead of full articles, removing social sharing buttons from the homepage and reducing text. Avoid auto-playing videos or parallax scrolling, too.
Spread content across multiple pages.
There’s been a renaissance in single-page websites over recent years, but this is very inefficient. A search engine referral to an About Us or FAQ page shouldn’t involve viewing the entire site. This is also true for comment sections and lengthier blog posts.
Remove unnecessary plugins.
With over 56,500 separate plugins to choose from, it’s tempting to get carried away. Yet every installed plugin has a detrimental effect on WordPress performance – even caching tools have to be loaded. Review the site’s architecture to determine whether every plugin truly justifies its place.
The WordPress.org plugin directory currently has over 240 pages of caching plugins, underlining its importance. Caching produces static HTML files, with pre-generated page images displaying up to five times faster than dynamic downloads. They also reduce the volume of server requests needing to be resolved.
A JPEG file doesn’t need to be 5MB to look good on a Retina display. You can compress images using basic free tools like Windows Paint, though WP-SmushIt performs automated batch compression. File sizes and download times will tumble, but each graphic should still display without pixellation.
Install lazy loading.
This builds on the previous point, by ensuring that graphics and other content won’t load until users head for the scrollbar. If they leave the site after only viewing one screen’s worth of content, there’s no benefit to pre-loading content further down. BJ Lazy Load and jQuery Image Lazy Load are great for this.
Don’t upload videos to the server.
Even brief clips gobble up bandwidth, expanding a website’s backup size measurably. Always ensure videos are auto-embedded from a third party like Vimeo or YouTube. Avoid auto-playing, as this will massacre loading times and lead to page abandonment as people try to silence the sudden eruption of noise.
Perform regular updates, and replace obsolete plugins.
Because of WordPress’s open source nature, plugins often wither on the vine. This could result in sluggish performance, or expose security flaws. Weekly update/version checks will ensure each element of your site continues to load quickly while performing optimally.
Use UK2.NET as your web host.
Servers play a crucial role in page loading times, and UK2.NET uses SSD disk storage for rapid WordPress hosting. We also use Cloudflare – a content delivery network designed to optimise high traffic volumes. In the unlikely event of a problem, our 24/7 tech support will restore services straight away.