Why speed is crucial for your website
We live in an era of instant gratification and technological advancements. Think about it - people don’t even wait in line for their Starbucks anymore. Order your skinny vanilla latte with just 3 mobile taps, and it’ll be ready for pick-up by the time you arrive.
What does this mean from a web development perspective? Optimization and speed are key! You’ll lose significant web traffic if your visitors have to wait longer than 3-4 seconds for a page to load, which could be potential customers lost.
Any time you open a new web page, whether it’s a social networking site like Facebook or your Gmail inbox, the browser spends a certain amount of time (usually no more than several seconds) to download a landing page’s content. This process is what’s referred to as “page speed downloading,” and it influences user behavior as well as search ranks. In fact, Google announced that they’ll be rolling out a new ‘speed update’ in July 2018, which means that speed will become a ranking factor for mobile searches and disadvantage sites with slow user experiences. As a result, developers are urged to consider UX when creating or updating a website and are encouraged to make speed a top priority.
You can learn more about checking the speed of your website here.
Speeding up WordPress without coding
Every time a user opens a new web page, WordPress gathers all necessary information on the fly and presents it to the requestor. This process requires a number of steps and can easily be slowed down with every new coming visitor.
With that said, there are a few things to keep in mind when writing code, such as:
- Cleaning your code. Unused code strings as well as comments, commas and empty space have a great influence on your page’s downloading speed.
- Using redirections wisely. If your mobile redirect has a structure like the following, "mysite.com -> www.mysite.com -> m.mysite.com -> m.mysite.com/home," you’ll have a very slow site on your hands.
- Removing blocks on JS scripts. The browser will start performing the scripts before the page even renders.
- Tracking the time of server response. When measuring this parameter, you should take into account the scope of traffiс your site receives, the capacity and software of your server as well as hosting options. Timing can be improved by repairing memory, long queries in the database and poor routing.
Another important piece of advice that we’re about to cover:
Check your cache!
When you return to a site that you’ve already visited, your browser doesn’t need to reload things like stylesheets, images, etc. - it is simply cached. There are a lot of tools for checking your cache on expiration. You can even set a time for your site’s cache. It’s recommended to set a year-long term, unless your website needs to be changed often.
We strongly recommend that every website owner installs a caching plugin. It’s handling doesn’t require any special skill set, but it can make your website work 2-5 times faster. It’s a very simple process: after the first iteration, the plugin makes a cached copy and presents it to all repeat visitors.
A few words about caching “magic”
When a user visits any WordPress site, the server must collect and return data from the PHP files and database and present it in HTML. It may seem like a long process, but it can easily be shortened with the help of a caching plugin.
Keep in mind that there’s no need to install a caching plugin if you work with one of WordPress’ hosting providers, such as Pressidium or WPEngine. In fact, the variety of plugins available for WordPress are pretty great! Some of the most popular ones, include:
This plugin has many useful features from aggregation, minifying, caching styles, scripts and more. Additionally, it offers CSS injection into pages and can also optimize Google fonts as well as clean garbage from WordPress emoji.
This plugin has a very useful CDN integration function. It helps refine website performance and SEO, resulting in higher search ranks and shorter load times.
Among the key features listed above are mobile compatibility, support of AMP, and a wide range of caching and minification options as well.
The main feature highlight of this plugin is its image optimization. It results in improved conversion rates as well as a front-rank scanning hierarchy and will unleash loads of free space. EWWW Image Optimizer manages new images as well as those that have already been stored.
Most importantly, the core tool is free! So if you decide to use API, you won’t be charged a fee for the images that the system fails to compress, and no payments will be required for the time you didn’t use API.
The plugin owners promise to leave no item left (without compression) behind ☺
This tool deals mainly with site databases and offers maximum efficiency for your website.
- Key features include:
- Deep analysis and recycling of all needless information.
- Weekly cleaning (automatic option).
- Intuitive design that supports several languages.
The program has both free and premium versions. The latter is useful if you’re running several websites as it allows you to select which part of your database (particular table or a certain combination) that you’d like to optimize. However, the cleaning process is more complicated than it is for the free version, such that you must set a specific date, time and other conditions for the cleaning.
Additional best practices for WordPress
Update your CMS and plugins
Avoid security issues by regularly updating your CMS. Weak security can set the stage for harmful code injections.
Remove unnecessary and wasteful plugins
The main issue with most plugins is not only the increasing amount of requests and queries, but also the negative effect they have on your site’s memory and security system.
Use a CDN
With CDN, you can minimize time for image loading and what’s more – you can host them offsite.
The main idea of CDN is to allocate necessary resources regionally closer to the user. Your website can be hosted somewhere in the UK for example, but with Amazon Cloudfront as a CDN, a visitor in San Francisco can gain access to your pages somewhere nearby, thus accelerating your website.
You can read more about CDN services here.
Choose a Good Host
Selecting a good host is about finding something that best suits you. Similar to how a perfume smells different on every person, a hosting server may work great for someone else’s site but not yours (and vise versa), so it’s important to take your time when searching for your ‘perfect match.’
We don’t recommend shared hosting because in spite of its low price (generally no more than $4-$6 per month), your service will be unreliable. Dedicated hosting is another point of discussion, which can be a solution for those who have a good understanding of server and network technologies. What’s more, websites with dedicated hostings are known to be extremely popular and drive high traffic. However, you can also hire someone who knows the stack very well, and he or she can manage the hosting for you.
So, what’s left? There’s VPS (Virtual Private Server), which is a bit more expensive than shared hosting ($25-$50 per month), but it’s very reliable and offers a wide range of services like backups, updates and so on. There’s also managed WordPress hosting. However, keep in mind that you’ll be limited to only running WordPress apps if you decide to do so, and you may find that some plugins or themes are disabled for WordPress security reasons.
It’s ultimately up to you! You need to determine how you want your website to function and the methods that will help you achieve your goals. With that said, we live in a world that’s continuously transforming due to technology and optimization, and factors like speed and efficiency are therefore not open to debate.