As a new WordPress user, you have every reason to be excited.
Everything, from publishing content to integrating functionalities via plugins, is all served to you in one user-friendly interface.
You just need to identify your website goals, find the right components and have the patience to read truckloads of learning resources to refine your development process.
But as you put together your website piece by piece, you may eventually end up compromising its performance and stability.
It may not be perceivable right now, but once you get a considerable amount of traffic regularly, a single oversight can lead to a huge dip in conversions.
According to statistics, 40% of online shoppers would leave a website with no hesitation if it takes over 3 seconds to load completely. This is increased to a whopping 53% for users in general on their mobile devices.
The good news is, this is WordPress we’re talking about.
Optimizing for performance is not exactly rocket science, especially if you have free plugins floating around that can get half the job done in a few clicks.
Without further ado, here are five proven strategies that will allow your WordPress website to run as smooth as butter.
1. Enable Image Auto-Optimization
As far as website performance goes, your utilization of images is one of the biggest factors at play.
It’s simple: the more high-resolution images you use, the more bandwidth it takes to load your content. This, in turn, inevitably results in longer load times.
To make sure this isn’t the case, a potential long-term solution is to enable automatic lossless compression with a plugin like WP Smush.
Lossless compression works by minimizing distortion as much as possible while also reducing the size of an image file. And with WP Smush, you can easily perform a bulk optimization as well as enable automatic compression upon upload.
Keep in mind that text-based articles alone won’t be enough if you want your site to stand out. You need to incorporate visual assets into your WordPress content to get your audience’s attention, make certain information more readable, and basically just give your brand more options to express its personality.
2. Minify Your Code
It may not be a problem for fresh WordPress sites that barely use any interactive content. But for a website that’s loaded with custom widgets, CSS personalizations, and whatnot, then it’s definitely something that must be dealt with.
To prevent your custom codes from hampering your WordPress site’s performance, a good strategy is to use a plugin like W3 Total Cache, which happens to have a built-in code minification feature.
By minifying code, you’re stripping them of excessive characters that serve no purpose whatsoever than to improve readability for human readers. This includes comments, white spaces, and so on.
Minification also shortens variable names that are needlessly long — thus, making sure your code assets are loaded as quickly as possible on your website.
3. Enable Browser Caching
Since we’ve already covered W3 Total Cache, now would be a good time to discuss its other core feature: browser caching.
In simple terms, caching is the temporary storage of website data or HTTP responses by the user’s browser. This will enable the same pages to load instantaneously the next time they’re accessed on the same computer or mobile device.
With W3 Total Cache, caching can be enabled and controlled through the plugin’s interface. You can set the individual caching settings for specific file types, be it CSS codes, images, and so on.
W3 Total Cache also has one more trick up its sleeve that’s worth mentioning. Under the caching settings, you can enable Gzip compression just by ticking a couple of checkboxes.
Gzip compression can drastically reduce the file size of text-based files by up to 70%. Manually, it can be utilized by adding a snippet of code to your website’s .htaccess file, which is a more tedious and time-consuming process — not to mention risky for WordPress users who aren’t used to editing codes.
4. Leverage a CDN
A CDN improves loading speed by spreading the load of transferring data across multiple proxy servers. These are then strategically located around the globe, delivering cached website data to users who are nearby.
As an added bonus, most CDN providers add an extra layer of protection against Distributed Denial of Service or DDoS attacks. This pertains to a cyber-attack that floods a website with false traffic to overload the server’s resources and deny access to real users.
5. Use PageSpeed Insights
Finally, WordPress websites have different needs when it comes to performance optimizations.
The strategies above? They’re some of the few that can benefit most, if not all, DIY sites out there — but that doesn’t mean they’re enough if you really want to offer the best possible experience to your audience.
PageSpeed Insights will allow you to iron the creases by automatically detecting the exact issues that affect your website’s loading speed. Generously provided by Google, all you need to do is enter your website’s URL, let the analysis run its course, and watch as the tool enumerates everything you need to do.
Given how fast the tool works in evaluating your website’s performance, it’s advised that you run it whenever you perform an optimization. Doing so allows you to verify if your efforts indeed worked — prompting you to move on to the next optimization suggestion.
You should begin to see noticeable improvements in your website’s loading speed. If not, you can always run another assessment on PageSpeed Insights to check for anything you may have overlooked.
Have anything else you’d like to share regarding page speed optimizations? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!