website-optimization-featured

How to optimize WordPress websites

Everyone loves fast websites. Such a website improves user experience and creates happy visitors. Google too is obsessed with speed and considers site speed as one of the ranking factors.

Today we want to share with you 8 steps on how to make a website faster. This is based on the actions that we took to optimize our BarnImages.com. We believe that these tips will work for any WordPress site and some can be also used for other CMS.

But what is “fast” in the fist place? Well, 45% of visitors will abandon a website if it loads in more than 3 seconds. So, these 3 seconds should be the goal. Two seconds would be even better!

Before we move on to the actual optimization steps, we should mention these two tools for measuring site speed: GTmetrix and Pingdom Website Speed Test. Both services will not only show you the load time of a page but will also give you a detailed page analysis and provide recommendations on how to optimize it.

1. Choose a reliable and fast web hosting

If your website is located on a slow hosting, other optimization steps will be useless. Of course, fast hosting does not necessarily mean the best. You should also consider reliability, uptime, support, features offered and price. After doing a lot of research we’ve chosen InMotion Hosting and so far we are very happy about this decision. According to this test, InMotion, that uses Solid State Drives, is one of the fastest WordPress hosting providers. Besides that, these guys offer other nice features such as free domain, free site transfer, preinstalled WordPress and 90-day (!) full money back guarantee. If you consider them now, make sure to use this link to get up to 38% off hosting plans!

2. Choose a fast WordPress theme

Poorly coded or feature-heavy theme will increase your website loading time, so choose wisely. Make sure you always test a theme’s demo with GTmetrix or Pingdom Website Speed Test. Look on how long it takes to load a page and how many HTTP requests are made. While shopping at ThemeForest you can read the comments and see what other people say.

3. Make sure you don’t overuse plugins

We’ve chosen WordPress because it’s easy to use and is very flexible at the same time. However, this system is not the fastest available. Quite often to add a new feature you’ll need to install a plugin or two. This can have a huge impact on the load time. Think twice – do you really need this plugin? Is there a lighter alternative? Don’t forget about the great P3 plugin. This tool measures plugins’ impact on your site’s load time, so you can see which plugins are slowing it down. This way you can also compare similar plugins and choose the lightest.

4. Update WordPress and plugins

Don’t forget to update your system regularly, to be sure that bugs are fixed and everything is running optimally

5. Disable wp-cron.php

Wp-crone.php is a script in WordPress for scheduled tasks like checking for theme or plugin updates, publishing scheduled posts, sending email notifications and others. The thing is that wp-cron.php runs every time someone visits a page. For a website with a lot of traffic, this can be a problem as it consumes server resources. Check this article how to disable default wp-cron.php and setup a manual cron job that runs every 6 hours, which should be fine for most of the WordPress websites.

6. Don’t forget about a cache plugin

WordPress is a dynamic CMS. That means that website data is generated every time somebody visits a page. And you don’t really need it. It would be more efficient to create a static cache for each page and serve them to visitors. This will definitely speed up your website. Actually, using a cache plugin is one of the most effective ways to increase the speed of your site.

There are a few popular cache plugins like W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, and WP Fastest Cache. It is difficult to say which one is a better option, as you can have different results depending on your hosting or theme. We suggest you to try all these plugins and compare the results with GTmetrix. We use W3 Total Cache on BarnImages.com. If you find it difficult to configure this plugin, check this article.

And one more thing. A cache plugin, besides caching pages, can also minify (remove unnecessary characters from code) HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files. We recommend to leave this feature disabled in the plugin and pass this task to an external service, like Cloudflare for example. This way it won’t using up CPU resources of your server.

7. Use a content delivery network (CDN)

Rather than hosting your website on a single server, you can store resources (such as images, video, audio, CSS and JavaScript files) around the globe. The content will be geographically closer to your visitors, making the website faster.

We are using KeyCDN, a reliable and high-performance CDN that is also one of the most affordable services on the market. For example, 150 GB of traffic costs 6$ only. Another cool thing about KeyCDN is their CDN Enabler plugin for WordPress. You can literally integrate the service with your WP website in minutes. If you want to try KeyCDN (free trial, no credit card required), use our referral link to get $10 in credits that equals to 250GB of traffic.

8. Definetely optimize images

High-resolution images are probably the largest files of a website, so they will definitely slow down page speed! Therefore, you should try to reduce image size without losing quality. You can try optimus.io or EWWW Image Optimizer. These WordPress plugins will automatically optimize your images as you upload them. Or you can optimize images before uploading them by using tools like ImageOptim (free and Mac only) or JPEGmini (free trial for Mac and PC).

Conclusion

To round things up we wanted to show you this screenshot with one page analysis before the optimization and after it:

barimages-optimization

Three second difference in the page load time isn’t bad, is it?

It took us a while to develop this optimization strategy, as we are far from being professional web developers. If you think we are missing something or if you just want to share your experience in optimizing a website, feel free to comment under this post.

 

6 Comments

  1. Thanks for these tips! I had implemented some of them but went ahead and did some more per your recommendations. Here’s to hoping I can get my site to load more quickly now!

    Jebbica
    JebbicasWorld.com

  2. I need 2 set up wordpess through a webhost…. . i know i have to download wordpress but whats a good host to go with? and after i set up an account with a host, how difficult is the set up before I can begin building a site? and last but not least, can i still import the free wordpress templates?.

    • Well, I can definetely recommend you InMotion Hosting, the one we use for our website. It’s a fast (they use SSD drives) and reliable hosting with great customer support. And affordable. You can host both your sites on their LAUNCH plan and, as a Barn Images visitor, you will get a 38% discount when using this link. And then, there is a 90-Day full money back guarantee, so I suggest you to try :)

  3. Thank you for the tips and appreciate the recommendation to the free wordpress theme. I am always looking for new themes for my clients . This is really helpful. I have shared your beautiful site on my pinterest. Thank you!

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