A quick website on WordPress. How do you make it happen in 2024?

Discover the best techniques to optimise the speed of your site on WordPress! Optimise images, apply caching, limit plugins, integrate file minification and choose fast hosting to improve performance and SEO.

Slawomir Oruba

Web developer

Business analyst reviewing performance graphs on the big screen, highlighting the importance of a fast site on WordPress in web traffic trends.
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In the digital age, where every second matters, website loading speed is a key element that can determine success or failure online. Internet users expect the pages they visit to load instantly. Slow-loading pages can lead to high rejection rates, low conversions and ultimately lost potential customers. What's more, Google also takes loading speed into account as one of its key ranking factors. Therefore, optimising the loading speed of your WordPress site is essential. In this article, we provide tips on how to speed up your site to improve both user experience and search engine positioning.

1. Optimise photos

Optimising images is a key part of speeding up your WordPress site. High-resolution images, while visually appealing, can significantly slow down your site's loading time. Below I provide detailed guidelines on how to optimise images on your website.

A man sits atop a speedometer indicator that indicates maximum speed, next to a cogwheel icon and floral motifs, symbolising a fast page on wordpress.

Select the Correct Image Format

  • JPEG: Ideal for photography and images with a large number of colours. Offers good compression while maintaining acceptable quality.
  • PNG: Better for graphics with transparency and for images with a smaller colour palette. PNG offers higher quality, but files tend to be larger than in JPEG.
  • WebP: A modern format proposed by Google that provides better compression than JPEG and PNG at comparable quality. Supported by most modern browsers.

Compress Images Without Losing Quality

  • Use online tools such as ILoveIMG, TinyPNG or Compressor.ioto compress images without significant loss of quality. These services automatically reduce the file size while maintaining image clarity.
  • For advanced users, programmes such as Adobe Photoshop offer 'Save for Web' options, allowing the compression level and image quality to be fine-tuned.

Adjust Image Size

  • Before uploading to the site, make sure the images are the right size. There is no point in uploading images with a resolution greater than the maximum width displayed on the page.
  • Use WordPress' image resizing features or image editing tools to adjust sizes before uploading.

Lazy Loading of Images

  • Lazy loading delays the loading of images until the user scrolls the page towards them. This allows visible content to be loaded and displayed quickly, improving the overall loading speed of the page.
  • In WordPress 5.5 and later, lazy image loading is a built-in feature. You can also use plugins like Lazy Load by WP Rocket, to implement this feature on older versions of WordPress.

Use Server-Level Image Optimisation

  • Some hosting services offer automatic optimisation of images. Check if your hosting has this feature and enable it to automatically optimise all images uploaded to the server.
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Use CDN for Images

  • A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a network of servers located around the world that delivers website resources, including images, from the location closest to the user. This allows images to be loaded more quickly, regardless of the geographical location of the visitor.

2. Cache implementation

Caching is a key part of optimising any website, especially with powerful content management systems like WordPress. Implementing caching can significantly speed up page load times, improving user experience and SEO ranking. Below you will find a detailed explanation of how to effectively implement caching on your WordPress site.

What is Caching?

Caching is the process of storing copies of static elements of your website, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files, which are usually generated dynamically. When a user visits the site, the caching system serves up these static files instead of generating them anew, significantly reducing loading times.

How does Caching Affect Site Performance?

  • Reduces Server Load: By serving static files, the number of database queries is reduced, which lowers the load on the server.
  • Accelerates Charging Time: Users receive page content more quickly, improving the overall browsing experience.
  • Improves SEO: Fast pages are better rated by Google's algorithms, which can contribute to better positioning in search results.

Popular Caching Plugins for WordPress

  1. WP Super Cache
    • Easy to set up and operate.
    • It offers different levels of caching for different types of users.
  2. W3 Total Cache
    • More advanced, with a large number of configuration options.
    • It optimises performance by minifying and merging files, further speeding up the site.
  3. WP Fastest Cache
    • Intuitive user interface and simple configuration.
    • It offers features such as CSS and JavaScript minification and file merging.

Best Practices for the Implementation of Caching

  • Regularly Clean the Cache: Make sure you regularly refresh the cache, especially after making significant changes to the site.
  • Adjust Caching Settings: Customise the plugin settings to the specifics of your site to balance performance and fresh content.
  • Use Lazy Loading: For images and media that are not immediately visible, use the lazy loading technique, which will further speed up page loading.
  • Pay attention to Mobile Caching: With mobile optimisation, make sure that caching also works effectively for users on phones and tablets.

3. Limitation of the number of plug-ins

Excessive use of plugins in WordPress can significantly affect site performance and speed. Each plugin, even an inactive one, can add extra weight that strains server resources, increasing page load times. Here's how to effectively manage plugins to optimise the performance of your WordPress site.

Understanding the Impact of Plug-ins on Performance

  • Additional Database Queries: Many plug-ins make additional queries to the database, which can slow down the site.
  • More Resources: Plug-ins can load additional scripts, styles and images, increasing the overall page load time.
  • Conflicts: Plugins may conflict with other plugins or the theme, which can lead to performance and functionality issues.

How to Optimise the Use of Plug-ins

  1. Conduct a Plug-in Audit:
    • Check the list of installed plug-ins and identify those that are inactive or no longer needed.
    • Consider replacing multiple plug-ins with one that offers all the functions you need.
  2. Test Impact on Performance:
    • Use tools such as GTmetrix or PageSpeed Insightsto test the impact of individual plug-ins on the speed of the site.
    • Turn plug-ins off and on to see how each affects loading times.
  3. Use Caution when Installing New Plug-ins:
    • Before installing a new plug-in, check reviews, ratings and the date of the last update.
    • Avoid plug-ins that have not been updated for a long time or have poor reviews.
  4. Update Plugins Regularly:
    • Regular updates ensure that plugins are compatible with the latest version of WordPress and include bug fixes and performance improvements.
  5. Use Performance Optimisation Plug-ins:
    • Consider using plug-ins for performance optimisation, such as plug-ins for caching, CSS and JavaScript minification, and image optimisation.

Best Practices for Plug-in Management

  • Minimalism: Try to use as few plug-ins as possible. Consider whether the function the plugin is intended to introduce is essential for your site.
  • Quality over Quantity: Choose plugins from reputable developers that are well-reviewed by the WordPress community.
  • Safety: Avoid plugins that may pose a security risk. Regular updates to plugins and WordPress are key to keeping your site secure.

4. Minification and merging of CSS and JavaScript files

Optimising CSS and JavaScript files is a key step in improving website performance. This process involves two main strategies: minification and file merging. Below, I explain in detail how these techniques can significantly speed up your WordPress site.

What is Minification?

Minification is the process of removing all unnecessary characters from the source code of CSS and JavaScript files that are not required for proper code execution. Redundant characters include:

  • Spaces
  • Newline characters
  • Comments
  • Blockers (e.g. additional brackets)

The purpose of minification is to reduce file size, which directly translates into faster page loading times.

What is File Linking?

File merging involves consolidating multiple CSS or JavaScript files into one larger file. This technique reduces the number of HTTP requests the browser has to make to the server, which also contributes to faster page loading.

How do Minification and File Linking Affect Site Performance?

  1. Reducing File Size: It results in faster data transfer between the server and the user's browser.
  2. Fewer HTTP Requests: Each HTTP request adds additional loading time; fewer of them means the page loads faster.
  3. Improved Browser Cache Utilisation: Large, linked files are easier to store in the browser cache, speeding up future visits to the site.

Popular Plugins for Minification and Linking in WordPress

  1. Autoptimize:
    • Allows minification and merging of CSS, JavaScript and HTML files.
    • It offers the option to optimise and load images and fonts in a way that enhances performance.
  2. WP-Optimize:
    • It not only minifies and merges CSS and JavaScript files, but also optimises the WordPress database.
    • Provides easy configuration and management of the site cache.
  3. W3 Total Cache:
    • It offers a comprehensive solution for optimising site performance, including minification and file merging.
    • Includes advanced caching options for the site, objects and database.

Best Practices

  • Test the Change: After using minification and file merging, always test your site for errors. Make sure all functions are working correctly.
  • Monitor Performance: Use tools such as PageSpeed Insights on a regular basis to monitor the impact of changes made on page performance.
  • Update Plug-ins: Keep the plug-ins responsible for minification and file merging up to date to ensure the best compatibility and performance.

5. Eliminating resources that block rendering

Rendering-blocking resources, such as JavaScript and CSS files, can significantly impact the loading time of your website, delaying the point at which the user sees the full content of the page. Optimising the loading of these resources is key to improving page speed and overall user experience. Here's how you can effectively eliminate rendering-blocking resources on your WordPress site.

Understanding Resource Blocking Rendering

Rendering-blocking resources are scripts and styles that must be completely loaded and processed before the browser can start rendering the page. This includes:

  • CSS files: Styles that define the look of the website.
  • JavaScript files: Scripts that add interactivity to the site.

How to Identify Resources Blocking Rendering

Use tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights or Lighthouse to identify which CSS and JavaScript files are blocking the rendering of your site. These tools will provide detailed reports and optimisation recommendations.

Optimisation strategies

  1. Optimising CSS Files:
    • Use critical CSS: Insert directly in the section <head> the minimum amount of CSS required to render the visible part of the page (above-the-fold content).
    • Asynchronous loading: Load the other styles asynchronously or use the attribute media for the conditional loading of styles.
  2. JavaScript File Optimisation:
    • Deferred Loading: Use the attribute defer in JavaScript tags, allowing scripts to be delayed after the entire page has been loaded.
    • Asynchronous Loading: Attribute async allows asynchronous loading of scripts that are not critical to the initial rendering of the page.

Implementation via WordPress Plugins

  1. Autoptimize:
    • Automates the CSS and JavaScript optimisation process, including minification, file merging and asynchronous loading.
  2. WP Rocket:
    • A comprehensive caching and performance optimisation solution, it offers easy-to-use options for optimising render-blocking resources.
  3. Async JavaScript:
    • It focuses on optimising the loading of JavaScript files, offering options for asynchronous or deferred loading.

Best Practices

  • Test the Change: Once optimised, test your site for functionality and speed. Ensure that all elements of the site are working correctly.
  • Monitor Performance: Regularly use performance monitoring tools to track the impact of changes made.
  • Customise Optimisation: Not all strategies will be suitable for every site. Experiment and adapt optimisations to suit your site.

6. Regular updates make for a fast website on WordPress

Keeping WordPress, plugins and themes up to date is not only a safety practicebut also an important factor in site performance. Regular updates can make a significant contribution to the speed of a site on wordpress. Here's how to approach the update process in a way that maximises the benefits to site performance.

Why are updates important to have a fast site on WordPress?

  1. Security Amendments: New updates often include protection against the latest threats and security vulnerabilities.
  2. Performance Optimisations: Developers often include performance improvements in updates that can speed up the site.
  3. New Features: Updates can introduce new features that improve both the performance and usability of the site.
  4. Compatibility: Keeping up to date ensures compatibility between the WordPress core, plugins and themes.

How do I regularly update WordPress, Plugins and Themes?

  1. Set Automatic Updates:
    • In WordPress 5.6 and later versions, you can enable automatic updates for WordPress core, plugins and themes directly from the dashboard.
    • Go to "Plugins" or "Appearance > Themes" to set up automatic updates for individual plugins and themes.
  2. Manual Update Check:
    • Regularly log into your WordPress admin panel and check for updates.
    • Use the 'Updates' section of the dashboard to update WordPress, plugins and themes.
  3. Create a Backup Copy Before Upgrading:
    • Always create full backups of your site before carrying out updates. In the event of problems, this will enable you to restore your site to its previous state.
    • You can use backup plug-ins such as UpdraftPlus or VaultPress.
  4. Test Updates on the Staging Environment:
    • If possible, test updates on a copy of your site (a staging environment) before applying them to a live site. This will prevent potential problems.
  5. Monitor Performance After the Update:
    • After updating, monitor the performance of the site to ensure that the updates have not adversely affected the speed of the site on wordpress.
    • Tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights can be helpful in assessing the impact of updates on performance.

Best Practices

  • Be Careful with Updates: Although automatic updates are convenient, in some cases they can introduce conflicts. It is recommended to manually check for major updates.
  • Follow the Changes: Make a note of which updates have been carried out so that, in the event of problems, it is easier to diagnose the cause.
  • Use Reliable Sources: Only download plugins and themes from reliable sources to avoid security and performance issues.

7. Choice of fast hosting

Choosing the right hosting provider is a fundamental step in ensuring that your WordPress site runs quickly and reliably. The right hosting will not only speed up your site, but also improve overall security and stability. Here's what you need to know to make an informed choice.

Key Features of High-Speed Hosting

  1. SSDs:
    • SSDs (Solid State Drives) offer significantly faster read and write times than traditional HDDs. This translates into faster page loading and better performance.
  2. Latest PHP Version:
    • Make sure your hosting provider offers the latest, stable version of PHP. New versions of PHP are usually faster and more secure.
  3. Dedicated Resources:
    • Hosting that provides dedicated resources (RAM, CPU) for your site will provide better performance compared to shared hosting, where resources are shared between multiple sites.
  4. Server Location:
    • Choose hosting with servers close to your target audience. A shorter upload distance means faster load times.
  5. Caching Technologies:
    • Hosts offering built-in caching solutions, such as Varnish or Memcached, can significantly speed up content delivery.
  6. Easy integration into a CDN (Content Delivery Network):
    • A CDN can significantly speed up the loading of your site for users in different parts of the world by storing copies of your site on multiple servers distributed globally.
  7. Support for HTTPS/SSL:
    • Not only is a secure connection important for security, but Google also considers HTTPS as a ranking factor.

How to Choose a Hosting Provider

  1. Compare Opinions and Reviews:
    • Take a look at reviews and testimonials from other users to see what experiences they have had with different hosting providers.
  2. Analyse Offers:
    • Carefully examine the pricing plans and what is included. Make sure the hosting meets all your technical requirements.
  3. Check out Technical Support:
    • Access to fast and competent technical support is crucial when hosting problems arise.
  4. Test Speed:
    • Some providers offer a trial period or a money-back guarantee. Use this to test the speed and performance of your hosting.

The importance of fast hosting

  • User experience: A fast page improves the overall user experience, reducing rejection rates.
  • SEO: Site speed is an important ranking factor in search engines, meaning that a faster site can help you rank higher.
  • Conversions: A fast site on wordpress directly affects conversions; slower sites often have lower conversion rates.

Summary

Optimising your WordPress site speed is an ongoing and multi-faceted process. Speeding up your site will improve user experience, increase conversions and improve your ranking in Google search results. Regularly test your site's speed with tools such as PageSpeed Insights or GTMetrix and follow their recommendations to keep your site in optimal shape. Remember, every second of loading time counts, and optimising the speed of your WordPress site can be a key factor in determining your online success.

Web developer

Slawomir Oruba

We create cutting-edge web solutions that transform your online presence into real business successes.
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