In a time where practically any information you need can be right at your fingertips in a matter of seconds, website speed matters. The average consumer’s attention span is around 8 seconds– 8 seconds to catch their attention or lose ’em back to Google! Fortunately there are several beginner tips that can quickly optimize WordPress speed.
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Your website’s “above the fold” first impression matters. So does your content. But if you have a slow site, it doesn’t matter how excellent your website is… most users won’t tolerate a site that doesn’t give them information quickly. No one likes that spinning wheel of death! Here are a few basic tips that even beginners can follow to optimize WordPress speed.
Top 3 Reasons Your WordPress Site is Slow
If you’re looking to speed up WordPress, this is a great place to start. Say goodbye to slow WordPress and improve SEO too.
First, let’s consider common reasons for slow site speed to help you avoid problems right from the start.
Just like your favorite products in every day life, sometimes it’s worth paying more for better quality goods. For most people starting out, SiteGround is an excellent choice. You save money compared to other “big names” out there with shared hosting and they have great customer support. Plus their “SG Optimizer” plugin has additional settings that can help improve your WordPress speed too. I personally shaved quite a bit off my load time just by adjusting those settings!
Each individual page’s size is important, but overloading your home page especially doesn’t do you any favors. Consider how much info you really need on your page. Is it loaded with a ton of graphics? Animations? Videos? All of that means extra load time.
too many bells and whistles
Similar to page size, sometimes less really is more. Adding a bunch of plugins or custom scripts (think ads, fonts, popups, social feeds, etc.) also slows down your site.
Top 3 Ways to Optimize WordPress Speed
Once you have solid WordPress hosting in place, you’ve content mapped your home page to include what really counts, and you’ve limited the amount of confetti in the air… what’s next?
It’s time to implement a few simple tricks to improve that page speed!
Images are super important. Great visual content does well on social media and can help with SEO rank too. However graphics are also a large drain on site speed. Fortunately, they’re also easy to correct without sacrificing quality.
The easiest way to improve site speed with images is to optimize your graphics before uploading them to your website. If the image is going to display on your website at 400 x 600, there’s no reason to upload an image that’s 2000 pixels to begin with. If you can use a .jpg instead of .png, that will often save space too.
Need even more crunching? TinyPNG is a free online tool to further compress images. You upload your images to their website, adjust compression settings, and then download the new, smaller versions to include on your site.
BONUS: you can use a plugin to further optimize your images once they’re on your WordPress site. ShortPixel and Imagify have both free and paid plans that automatically compress images for you. If you’re short on time, this saves you the extra step of running images through a compressor before uploading. Finally, you can have your website convert to newer webP formats for more savings.
Still not enough? If your site is still graphics heavy and slow to load, you can try Lazy Loading too. This means your website will only load what’s visible “above the fold” and then loads the rest of the page as users scroll.
When you visit a website for the first time, it can take longer to load than it will on future visits. This is because some of the website data can be stored on your computer. A similar process can happen with your WordPress host. By adjusting your cache settings, your website can deliver the same content faster the second time around. SiteGround has excellent cache settings that can easily be adjusted for your unique needs.
Need more? Caching plugins are another option. Wp Super Cache is a free option and WP Rocket is a premium service. Both are incredibly easy to use and will improve your overall WordPress site speed.
Break It Up
A third way to optimize your WordPress site for speed is to break lengthy content into smaller pieces.
Instead of having ten content spots on your home page, could you get by with five or six? Would the other content sections be better served on their own pages? Do you need an actual contact form on your home page, or could you put that under a contact tab instead? Do you need to display your latest Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook posts all on your home page? In every sidebar? Probably not.
For blog posts on the home page of many sites, an excerpt is probably sufficient. Then users can click “read more” to see the full post. Do you need to display ten recent posts on the home page, or would five work?
On your archive pages, using thumbnails with excerpts (or even just thumbnails!) is probably fine. Again, adjust your WordPress settings to limit the number displayed per page.
Here’s an example of an archive page from my lifestyle blog that displays a thumbnail and excerpt of six blog posts per page with my full sidebar. Compare that to my archive page here on Design by Christi that displays six thumbnails (no excerpt) without the sidebar. When thinking about page speed and how much content is really needed per page, I was easily able to speed up load time on my design site.
Need Help Optimizing Your WordPress Site?
Feeling stuck with site speed? I offer virtual assistance packages and can help. Contact me to discuss your needs.
You can also visit this post to see my before/after speed results using many of these tips. Spoiler alert: it’s alllll green over here on mobile and desktop results!