Bad news: even a slight loading lag can discourage people from visiting your site. According to a 2015 study, even a 1.5-second delay can reduce your site’s Google ranking, discourage visitors, and even lower your average conversion rate.
On the Internet, speed is everything, and your WordPress site is no exception. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a professional web developer to keep it loading quickly. Follow our four tips to a sleeker, speedier WordPress site.
Best of all, they’re free!
1. Use a Simple, Modern WordPress Theme
Your WordPress theme consists of many interlaced files and functions, so it has a huge impact on how quickly your site can load. A complicated theme is going to take a lot longer than a basic one no matter what you do. And if it’s one of those themes packed with features you don’t even use? Now there’s some weight you can afford to lose.
WordPress’s default themes are noticeably quick loaders. You can see why if you take a look under the hood at their simple, elegant coding. WordPress requires the same elegance from any theme developer who wants their theme included in the framework’s official theme repository. Unlike mystery box third-party themes, these themes have the WordPress stamp of approval, so they’re less likely to let you down.
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2. Use a Caching Plugin
The cache is an area of a computer’s memory dedicated to storing recently used information. Computers are constantly moving things in and out of cached memory, often without the user even noticing. You can make this process work for you by installing a caching plugin on your WordPress site. That way, instead of your site reloading fully every time a user accesses it, the computer simply pulls data out of the local cache for a faster load.
You can’t go wrong with WP Super Cache, which is currently employed by more than one million WordPress users.
Too busy to fine-tune a caching plugin? In that case, you can try a managed WordPress hosting service, like DreamPress, that handles caching for you. DreamPress is designed specifically to organize and host WordPress sites and includes many built-in features to keep them running smoothly — caching is just one of them.
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3. Optimize Your Images
Enormous, high-resolution images make your site beautiful, but they don’t have to make it slow. The trick is to manage file size without reducing image quality.
Jetpack provides a free image acceleration and editing service for all users (not just the premium customers) called Photon. Translation? Less load on your host and faster images for your readers.
But what if your image-heavy site is still not fast enough? Consider using Lazy Load, a plugin that Automattic, WordPress’s parent company, helped produce. Lazy Load keeps your site from loading images that aren’t yet visible on the screen — they’ll only load when the plugin recognizes the user is scrolling down. The result is a site that doesn’t waste time loading objects which the visitor won’t even see.
4. Test Your Speed Quarterly
Even if your site is loading quickly now, there’s no reason not to remain vigilant. You can use free tools and plugins to give your site regular check-ups.
Google’s PageSpeed Insights will assess your site, give it a grade out of 100 and give you instructions on how to improve that grade over time. Some of the potential suggestions it might give you, like “optimize images,” can be fixed with the advice already in this article!
Another helpful tool is P3, which stands for Plugin Performance Profiler. If you’re using a simple and modern WordPress theme and still having issues with speed, the culprit might be one of the plugins you have installed to your site. P3 creates a pie chart graphic of your plugins so you can see which ones require the most site resources. Anything that’s taking too large a piece of the pie, you might want to consider living without.
There’s no shortage of tools to help you analyze and fix your site and, therefore, no excuse for site sluggishness. Here’s to a speedier Internet, starting with you.
Last but not least, upgrade your hosting for lightning-fast load times. Get DreamPress today!