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Quick Tips to Boost Your WordPress Website's Speed

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This post is part of a series called Quick Tips to Boost Your WordPress Website's Speed.
Quick Tips to Boost Your WordPress Website's Speed: Further & Better Optimization

Speed matters.

From the dawn of the internet, the notion of "speed" always has been (and always will be) important in terms of web development and design. We were trying to achieve speed in 1990, we are trying to achieve speed now, and we will be trying to achieve speed in the future.

Of course, we can't leave out WordPress from this topic. Being the most popular content management system doesn't make WordPress faster: Websites built with WordPress need to be optimized for speed as well.

That's why in this two-part series, we're going to review some very useful "quick tips" to make your WordPress website faster. Let's go!

How Do Fast-Loading Pages Benefit Your Website?

A relevant question will be "Why should I speed up my website?" We can answer this question by looking at three different aspects:

Better Conversion

There are lots of different research papers out there about how a one-second delay on a web page load causes a loss of customers, and they're not at all baseless—they're all scientific work. People don't like slow websites, they want fast-loading pages. That's why faster websites sell more of their stuff or get more subscribers, likes and followers.

Better User Experience

User experience was the "hype word" of the last two years (still is, really) and it has every right to be: UX is a very important aspect of web design because it focuses on making websites more usable by their visitors which, in my opinion, is way more important than making a nice-looking website.

Check out this infographic: KISSmetrics says that 47% of consumers expect a page to load under two seconds, and 40% leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. How cruel is tha... wait, that's literally what we do. You're reading this article only because the load time of the page didn't bother you. If it had taken longer, you would simply have closed the tab and moved to another page or website.

Better Search Engine Rankings

Google announced that speed is an important factor in search rankings a long time ago, and I don't think other search engines think differently.

And since search engines care more for websites that care for their users, it's logical for them to boost the rankings of faster-loading websites.

How to Boost Your WordPress Website's Speed

There are numerous ways to improve your WordPress website's speed and make your pages open faster than ever. All it takes is some basic knowledge of how WordPress works, really.

Without further ado, let's begin our quick tips!

Use a Caching Plugin

I decided to place the most popular option on top.

WordPress uses databases to store your website's content, connections between the content, and your website's settings; and each time a page is viewed on your website, the database is "queried" numerous times to get the data and show it to the visitor. However, it costs time—having the data inside the server's memory or sometimes as a separate file takes less time in most scenarios. 

That's where caching plugins come in handy: They hold the data in a "cache" and serve it to everyone. Instead of making tens of queries on each page load, the plugin serves what users need right from that cache.

There are lots of different caching plugins out there, but since I'm sharing "quick tips" in this article, I'm not going to review them all. I can suggest a few, of course: WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache are two elegant solutions that work on almost all WordPress installations. If you want a paid plugin, you can also check out WP Rocket.

Minify and Combine Your CSS & JavaScript Files

Your web pages consist of mostly HTML, CSS and JavaScript code, and most CSS and JavaScript codes are served as separate files. Your browser makes "requests" to your server to get each file, and puts them all together so that the visitor sees the page. But when you install sophisticated themes or plugins that show up in the front-end, there will be more CSS and JavaScript files to be served. And even though your browser can request them all at once, making each request means milliseconds of delay. Those milliseconds can add up to seconds, and that's when your visitor leaves your website.

There is a solution, though: You can combine files of the same type to serve one CSS file and one JavaScript file for each page. There are plugins that serve exactly this purpose and in addition to combining, they can also "minify" the code by deleting all whitespace and getting rid of unnecessary things like inline code commenting.

One of the best plugins I've ever seen on minification and combination is Autoptimize. Be sure to try it out—it worked wonders on my own website.

Warning: Combining and minifying CSS and JavaScript code is a delicate operation, so there's always a chance that it might break your front-end. Disabling the plugin (and clearing the cache if you're using a caching plugin) will solve that problem instantly, so don't worry about doing any irrecoverable damage.

Clean Up Your Database Regularly

When you add posts, delete posts, come up with new tags, delete comments, change options, install new plugins and uninstall themes, your database could get bloated with "residue" and that needs to be cleaned regularly, just like you empty your trash or take a shower.

There are way too many plugins in the WordPress Plugin Repository that clean up the database, but I'm going to suggest only one of them: WP-Optimize. This simple plugin shows all the bloat and lets you clean everything up with one click. Do this easy chore once a week and you're good to go!

Choose a Decent Hosting Provider

The best car racer in the world can't beat his/her competitors with a bicycle. Thus, even if you have a perfectly optimized website, it will still be slow on a weak server.

A high-performance host is the first thing you should consider when you decide to speed up your website. (Don't mind me mentioning this last in this article.) Servers with high-end equipment will be more than enough to boost your website's speed, and a decent technical support team will help you through all your issues. You can even search for "WordPress hosting" on search engines to find out about hosting environments specialized for WordPress websites.

True, better hosts cost more, but you can't give up performance to save a few bucks every month, right?

Conclusion

We reviewed three "basic" tips to enhance your website's speed on WordPress. In the next article, we're going to go over five more tips that will boost your website's speed. Don't forget to share this article with your friends, if you liked it.

See you in the next part!

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