While WordPress might be the greatest software invention since Ada Lovelace whipped out the first program blueprint in the late 19th century, there is one drawback. Unless you get proactive, it can be s-l-o-w. We’re talking a tortoise with his shoes on backwards kind of slow. The good news is you can avoid that and make use of the CMS that underpins a full 25 percent of all internet websites with a few simple speed tricks. You wanna know what they are? Sure you do.
Rarely is the least expensive option best when you’re in the market for web hosting. That low price means they’ve got to cut corners somewhere, which normally entails cramming more customer websites on a server than it can comfortably hold. This can slow down your page loading time significantly. That’s a bad thing. There is all kinds of research supporting the idea that if it takes more than three or four seconds for your website to come up, you’ll lose a significant number of users. We’re all just so darn impatient. Consider upgrading to a VPN service which dedicates a single server to your website, or at the very least, focus your search on a host that specializes in WordPress installations.
The allure of a theme featuring dozens of different bells, whistles, and shiny things is almost irresistible. The trouble is that those fancy and often extraneous features add additional code to the framework, which slows your website down. Quit thinking you need to have all that visual flash and opt for a simple website with only the functions you absolutely need. A clean, uncluttered theme helps avoid code bloat and makes that home page literally spring into instant existence the moment someone clicks on it. While the WordPress library has plenty of free (some of them are not bad) options, don’t be afraid to cough up the $30-50 it takes to get a premium theme. The profit motive tends to yield a better product.
In the internet world, the concept of page caching doesn’t get nearly enough attention. What a caching plugin like the nifty and free W3 Total Cache does is keep the static parts of your website pre-loaded into a user’s browser after the first visit, so that on subsequent visits the only parts that have to be loaded are those that have changed. Think of your favorite website. How many of the elements change between visits? Header image? Probably not. Page links? Not likely. You get the idea. A good page caching plugin will almost instantly load the static elements, giving a visitor something to look at while the dynamic parts are pulled in from the server. Get thee hence and install a caching plugin.
If you have a tendency to take an image directly from your phone or an online image repository and put it directly into a blog post without optimizing it, you’re probably killing your page load speed more than you can imagine. Here’s the thing. An image pulled straight from your cell phone camera is huge in terms of pixels, likely taking up hundreds of megabytes of space. If you repeat that process over the course of dozens or hundreds of blog posts, you’ve got an image bloated website that will eventually grind to a halt (not literally, but expect terrible load times). The easy solution? Find a nifty little free program called Smush It and run every image you plan to use on your WordPress website through it. It takes very little time and fixes one of the most radical website slowdowns around.
There are dozens of other tricks you can apply to WordPress to keep your website humming along like a finely-tuned machine. The five mentioned here will get you started. If you have a suspicion your website still loads too slowly, jump over to Google and do some research. Another strategy would be to visit WordPress forums and ask questions. You’ll likely get more responses than you want to take the time to read.