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:
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.
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.
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?
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!