One of the hands-down most important factors you’ll be looking at when designing your website is the speed. A sluggish website can be very annoying and hard to work with, both for you and your potential clientele. It’s also one of the first things users will complain about; no one wants to wait for twenty seconds just for a web page to load and feel like they’re still using dial-up.
So, before you even get started with building your website, you’re going to want to know a bit about everything that can affect your website’s overall speed, and everything that you can do to make it run as fast as possible.
1. A Good Host
Having a fast server is paramount to getting short loading speeds on your web pages. No matter what else you do, if the server cannot provide the adequate speed, you’ll be stuck with a sluggish website.
A free host just isn’t going to cut it, unfortunately. If you want good speeds, you’re going to have to pay for it. The difference is enormous, as a paid host can have a response time up to twenty times shorter than a free one. This is a mistake that thousands of people have made in the past, so don’t be one of them.
Here is a detailed review of the top 9 companies offering managed WordPress hosting. We hope this guide will help you find the best hosting for your WordPress website.
2. The Theme
Depending on the theme you choose, your website can be super-fast and responsive or agonizingly slow. The science behind it is simple: The more content there is on the page, the more your server will have to upload, and the more your user will have to download. Easy to follow tutorial with step-by-step instructions how to start a blog or how to make a website using WordPress with build in drag and drop page builder.
If someone claims that their theme is highly customizable, it most likely means that it’s full of a lot of unnecessary content that will slow your web page down. Stick to a simple, minimalistic theme to reduce the workload on your server.
3. Disable Sluggish Plugins
WordPress offers a wide variety of very handy plugins that you can use to make your job easier. Unfortunately, like themes, some of these plugins can be pretty big bandwidth hoarders that can considerably slow down your website.
The worst of all are social sharing plugins. It’s true that they’re an easy way to allow users to share your post on social media, but at the price of slowing everything else down considerably. As an alternative, you can simply embed social buttons into the source code of your theme (which won’t noticeably slow your website down), so your users can share posts on social media.
Finding WordPress plugins that are secure and won’t endanger your site is an even harder task due to the complex nature of WordPress security and often massive plugins with thousands of lines of code. List of Hacked, Dangerous and Vulnerable WordPress Plugins
4. Use a CDN
CDN stands for content delivery network, and what it does is that it distributes your website to servers all across the globe. Without a CDN, only people from your region (or those that use a VPN with Ip in your region) will be able to access it with a good speed.
This is because the farther you are away from a server, the longer it takes for the signal to reach it and communicate with it. So if you care about having your website accessible at satisfactory speeds all over the world, a CDN is exactly what you need.
If you’ve been building websites for a while, you might have heard the term “cache” before. Cache is nothing more than a version of your website that is kept in a user’s browser, which helps them load your website more quickly the next time they visit it. The moment that you update your website, you can instruct it to load the new version instead of the cache, which then replaces the cached version for further visits.
Cache can significantly shorten loading times, from 2 seconds to just under 1 second. So if you truly care about speed, this is one of the best and cheapest ways to get it.
6. Reduce Image Size
Images are most likely the biggest thing your users will be loading on your website, and the larger they are the more time it will take for them to load. By reducing and optimizing images to be as small as possible without significantly losing quality, you can really reduce those loading times. So if your business doesn’t require you to have full HD versions of images on your website, do your website a favor and use a format that compresses the image files, or simply make them smaller.
7. Disable Content Leeching and Hotlinking
Every time someone links an image from your website on one of their own blog posts, they’re essentially stealing your bandwidth because whenever a user clicks on the link, it leads them straight back to you.
For this reason, you should consider disabling hotlinking and preventing direct links to the images on your website. Likewise, you shouldn’t steal other people’s bandwidth by linking to their images, instead just re-upload it on a dedicated image hosting site such as Imgur.
8. Expires Header
An Expires Header tells your website to not constantly reload certain static content, CSS stylesheets for example (that aren’t going to be changed any time soon) and instead use a cached version of it, refreshing only after a set time period. If you don’t do this, your website is going to reload all of this content every time a user accesses your website, which can significantly impact the loading speed.
9. Install LazyLoad
A LazyLoad plugin works by loading only the images that are currently visible within the user’s browser window, until they scroll down to the rest of the content. By not loading all the images right away, your web page will be available sooner, and your user will have no idea since they can’t see all the content at the same time anyway.
Everyone is surely familiar with the way zip files work. By compressing the files you’re reducing their size, and smaller files take less time to send across an Internet connection. GZip works the same way, only with web page files. It puts your website’s content into a zip file, sends that zip file to the user loading the page, and then automatically unzips and loads it. At first glance, it does seem like it would take more time than simply loading an uncompressed web page, but trust us, it’s a major bandwidth saver and can only help your website’s overall speed and responsiveness.
Adam Ferraresi loves everything related to technology since he was five years old and it was that love that brought him into web development. Soon after he graduated from college, he got a job in Dallas working as a web developer and not long after that, he was recognized for his qualities as a writer. Presently, he’s a freelance writer for wefollowtech.com and is very happy because of it. In his free time, when he’s got any, he enjoys playing basketball and hiking.