Knowledge to Power Your Website

Four Common Causes of a Slow Website and How to Eliminate Them

Four Common Causes of a Slow Website and How to Eliminate Them thumbnail

There’s an adage that says, “slow and steady wins the race,” but when it comes to your website, that’s a surefire way to fail. And in this case, failure doesn’t just mean losing a race; it means losing business.

In fact, a recent study conducted by Brand Perfect revealed that 67 percent of those surveyed cited a slow-running website as their primary reason for abandoning an online purchase.

Because of this, it’s imperative that you optimize your site for performance at all times.

So what causes your site to slow down? More importantly, what can you do to speed it up? In this post, we’ll identify four common culprits and explain how DreamHost can help you put the digital pedal to the metal.

Four Common Causes of a Slow Website

1. Unoptimized Images

One of the most common culprits for slow sites is a large volume of unoptimized images. Full-sized images can consume a lot of bandwidth while loading. So take time to resize your images.

  • Take a look at the image tag — it allows you to set the height and width.
  • Be sure to scale the photos proportionally so that they don’t get stretched or skewed.
  • Consider changing image format, which can significantly reduce the file size.
  • Then reduce image quality.

No, that doesn’t mean making your photos look bad. It just means tweaking some simple settings.

For JPG images, this is done by directly reducing the quality. In most cases, a quality setting of 80 to 90 percent will show no significant changes from the original version. And you can go even lower depending on the type of image, the detail, and the colors.

For other image formats such as GIF and PNG, you can reduce quality by opting for a smaller color palette.

Want great images for your WordPress website? Download our free ebook Creating an Awesome WordPress Website today!

2. Too Much Fancy Flash

Fancy isn’t always fun. In fact, Flash can seriously slow down your website. Flash is the sumo wrestler of software: it’s big and bulky.

And here’s one more vote against it: Flash is almost always incompatible with mobile devices, meaning that a large chunk of your audience won’t even be able to access it.

So, if you’re using Flash, you’re slowing down your site for minimal benefit.

3. Bulky Code

Inefficient or bulky code can create major roadblocks for your site. Many CSS coders may include white space in order to make pages more readable. The problem is, much of this white space can be eliminated while still maintaining readability.

Give some thought to removing line breaks and excess spacing as this can do wonders for condensing your code, shrinking file sizes, and maximizing speed.

Pop quiz! Should code be protected by the First Amendment?

4. External Embedded Media

Another common culprit for a slow-running website is external media usage. That means cutting down on the videos and shiny stuff — they’re like carbs.

Use them in moderation.

Although you may find a fun video or smart slideshow that you think is relevant to your business, think twice before embedding someone else’s media into your site. Once you embed external material into your site, your pages will only run as fast as the host site.

In other words, if that external site is having a particularly slow day, your site may run slowly too. Don’t let another site drag yours down! Whenever possible, it’s smart to host all content on your own server.

Before you embed someone else’s cat video, make sure you’re not making any of these 6 content ownership mistakes.

So Is Your Site Running at Peak Efficiency?

Use this speedy website checklist to make immediate improvements:

  • Resize your images
  • Change image format
  • Reduce image quality
  • Eliminate or minimize fancy flash
  • Remove bulky code including line breaks and excess spacing
  • Minimize media from other sources
  • Store media on your own servers

How Do You Optimize?

Share your secrets! We want to know how you keep your high-octane website in tip-top shape. Tell us in the comments below.

DreamPress was built for speed. It’s five times faster than traditional shared hosting. Get a faster WordPress site today!

Photo by Flickr User Herr Olsen


Ellice comes to us from House DreamHost, the first of her name, Gatekeeper of All Things Content, Protector of the Brand and Ruler of Social Realms. tl;dr - Ellice is the Content Marketing Manager at DreamHost and oversees all social media and content efforts.


  1. how about you take your own advice? your own website forces the mobile mode, ignores browser requests for desktop mode, and prevents anyone from logging in from a mobile device. even on my tablet, which has a keyboard and a mouse and a screen the size of a small laptop your website has a bizarre optimization as if it was a phone which makes everything look giant and bulky and ugly and doesn’t allow your existing customers to use the service they paid for. I have been a customer for more than 8 years now and I would just like to be able to login without having to hunt down a Windows PC to login.

    I consider it a very bad design strategy. personally, I would rather see a website that is not optimized for mobile in the least. At least then it will work on all devices.

  2. I have established a conservation web site address above, there is a possibility the site may have been hacked?? For a number of weeks the site has been difficult for many of our followers to access, for others there is no issue, they are able to log on just fine. People logging on with mobile phones also are able to log on without difficulty. This situation has now been going on for several weeks. At times the site runs perfectly for all, then all of a sudden access is either very slow or not at all.

    We have had several attempts at resolving the problem which appear to work for a few days, then the problems begin once again, It’s so frustrating because we need to get our message out, if this continues many of our followers are likely to stop supporting our work exposing the illegal bird of prey persecution here in the UK.

    Are you able to offer any advice after looking at our site please.

    Terry Pickford

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