A fast load time of your website is essential to keep your users and the search engines happy. With mobile device usage increasing , a slow website just won’t cut it in this day and age and you can’t afford to loose users due to a slow site.
Tools for performance analysis
Of course, we need measurement tools and performance analysis to compare results of your optimization before and after.
Some recommended include:
- The tools built into browsers : usually accessible via right click, Inspect Element or by pressing F12
- Browser extensions : the inevitable Firebug for Firefox that we will couple with YSlow
- Online tools : Pingdom Tools , GTmetrix and Google Webmaster
- WordPress plugins : P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler)
- Website Security
Follow the following tips to improve your load time
Remember to backup your website before undertaking any major optimization
1. Choose a good web host
It is not easy to find a good web host with the 1000’s that are available today. Don’t always go for the cheapest, or even the most expensive. Always check out reviews and ask for advice from any friends that may also have a website.
2. Compress images
One of the biggest issues when it comes to page speed is images. Most people don’t do any kind of compression or editing of their images before uploading.
One of the easiest ways is to use EWWW Image Optimizer, a plugin for WordPress. It will allow you to optimize any previous images you have uploaded and also automatically compress images that you upload in the future.
Much like images, we can also compress CSS and JS files.
For CSS, I generally recommend CleanCSS, which has many settings including choosing the compression level (readable to unreadable) and does not crash the site (except in rare cases when the theme will use media queries).
Compressing and JS CSS will effectively create almost illegible files as they are composed only of a single line.
4. Use server side compression (gzip)
Compressing your website before a user loads it in their browser is one of the best ways of optimization. It significantly increasing page load time by several seconds.
The best way of doing this is by asking your web host for help and they will point you in the right direction!
5. Client side compression using .htaccess
You can get the users browser to cache commonly used items, such as your logo, css, js, most images and other rarely changed items to help decrease the load time.
To do this you can add the following code to your .htaccess file:
6. Remove unnecessary plugins
Many people just install countless plugins to enhance their sites experience, be it contact forms, image sliders etc. A number of these will make core changes to your themes code which will end up slowing the site down.
It is worth checking all plugins that you use to ensure they are being used in the correct and best way. Make sure you follow any documentation provided, and if you notice your site slows when you have installed it, contact the support for the plugin and ask for advice.
Every now and then you should have a clean up and delete any unused plugins from your wordpress install. You should also make sure you keep them up to date as they will have constant improvements to the code to ensure they are performing correctly.
7. Optimize and choose a good theme
The theme you choose will be at the core of optimization when it comes to page load speed. Choosing one that is correctly optimized for speed will be the best and quickest way of having a fast website.
If you really like the theme you are currently using, but it is slow, think about contacting a wordpress web developer to help you make changes that will lower the page load time.
Remember, any changes you made to the theme may be overwritten when you update the theme from the provider, so make sure you back everything up rigorously!
8. Use a good caching plugin
There are many plugins to choose from when it comes to caching your site. I also recommend to use W3 Total Cache as it works well straight out the box.
They also offer premium support that will help configure your site for optimal performance.