In the previous article, we discussed the importance of speed in web and reviewed some basic tips on speeding up WordPress. In this article, we're going to go over five more tips to optimize your website even further.
Without any more introduction, let's dive in to the next set of performance tips!
How to Boost Your WordPress Website's Speed Even Further
Here are some more tips on boosting your website's speed:
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for Your Assets
CDNs, or "content delivery networks" serve this purpose. And by their nature, they're usually faster than your server because of all that cloud magic. Plus, getting files from two servers is faster than getting them from one server from the browser's perspective.
While the CDN market is dominated by paid services like Amazon CloudFront, MaxCDN and many, many more, there are free services as well. I suggest you try it out and see how CDNs work by installing Jetpack from WordPress.com and activate the "Photon" module. If you need more power and customization, you can migrate to paid services without losing anything.
Optimize Your Images Automatically With Plugins
Images are important to your web pages because they're usually the most attractive parts of the page. But using many images may double, triple or quadruple your page's weight, and it could make your pages take longer to finish loading.
If you can use fewer images, that's just another part of speed optimization ("common sense") but if it's a better idea to keep big images, you can try to optimize those images so they take less space and less time to load.
In other tutorials about speeding up WordPress across the internet, everyone seems to be suggesting WP Smush.it and it does the job pretty well, but I'm going to go ahead and suggest EWWW Image Optimizer. It has a funny name but I think it's a better alternative to WP Smush.it because it can compress more file types and has more options to play with. Try each one out and decide for yourself.
Use a Mobile Theme for an Even Faster Mobile Experience
Showing a mobile user the exact same page that a desktop user sees is so 2010. These days, everybody is using "responsive web design", which rearranges and changes the design for different screen sizes so that users can see the page more easily.
But doing that usually means taking the same page (with the same weight) and just changing the design until it fits in mobile devices' screens, and mobile users with mobile internet connection speeds don't appreciate waiting for 10 seconds for a page to load. How awesome would it be if instead of changing the design dynamically for mobile devices, we could show a completely different, cleaner design?
Turns out, there are plugins for that as well. The previously-mentioned Jetpack by WordPress.com has a module named "Mobile Theme" that lays out a simple mobile theme for you without any hassle. If you want more control, you can check out WPTouch Mobile Plugin, which is free but also has a "pro" version that offers more mobile themes than the free version.
Use a Simpler Theme for Better UX and Better Speed
Have you ever evaluated the performance of your theme? If you haven't, you're not alone: People tend to "fall in love" with a theme and overlook the fact that it has way too many images, doesn't have an optimized CSS file, has terrible HTML output, or makes hundreds of queries on each page. We're only human, of course, and we can get distracted by a beautifully designed theme... but remember: Beautifully designed but horribly coded themes will harm your website more than a not-so-sexy theme with a solid code foundation.
Check your website's speed score from PageSpeed, and install the Admin Bar Queries plugin to evaluate your theme's performance. If you see that the theme is slowing down your website, you should try out a different theme that is simpler than what you're using right now.
Remember: Good design doesn't necessarily have to be flooded with graphics. Sometimes less is more—especially in the "flat design" era we're living in!
Be Cautious Using WordPress Plugins
I know, plugins are awesome. You can never get enough functionality and features provided by plugins that enrich your website. A post view count plugin over here, a comment voting mechanism over there... and soon you'll wonder why the server waits for six seconds before loading the page.
You may say I'm talking like a hypocrite because I already suggested lots of plugins in this article. Be assured that I'm not being a hypocrite: using lots of plugins doesn't slow down your website, but using many plugins that interact with the front-end does. Especially the ones that alter database fields on each page view.
Ironically, you can test which plugins slow down your website by installing another plugin. The P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) plugin runs tests through your pages and measures the time cost of each plugin, giving you an idea of which plugins slow down the website the most.
As I said at the beginning of this series, speed always matters. You need to keep an eye out for it constantly, so these articles aren't "do these just once and you're good to go" kind of tutorials. I'm not saying that you should bookmark these tutorials, but, you should bookmark these tutorials.
Do you have anything to add to this series? Tell us what you think by commenting below. And if you liked the article, don't forget to share it with your friends!