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How to Speed Up WordPress – A Beginner’s Guide


It’s not a problem with WordPress alone.

Website built using any CMS platform like WordPress and Joomla are tend to be a bit slower if we compare it with the speed of similar website but not using a CMS.

The reason is simple.

Content management systems like WordPress pull content and resources from various sources and create the content for each page dynamically when the visitor/browser requests a page.

There are lots of background processes going on in the server which reduces the loading speed of the website. That’s the way how WordPress or any CMS works.

However, there are a bunch of things you can try to speed up your website. In this post, I will walk you the processes that we use to speed up the WordPress website we build at our web design company in Chennai.

Spoiler: Don’t forget to check the last technique WordPress caching because and it’s easy to do and it can speed up WordPress websites significantly.

Keep Server Response Time Low

Having a good server is the single most important thing you need to speed up your website. If your server is slow, no other techniques can help you to improve your website’s performance.

When a user requests a page, the server needs to process lots of information before it can start sending the content to the user. The more your server takes the time to process the information, the slower your website will be.

So, one thing you can do to speed up your website is choosing a server with good processing power and speed.

Recommendations

  • We highly recommend you not to use shared hosting your website. It can be cheap, but it can also affect the speed of your website. If you are a small business, we recommend cloud hosting.
  • You should choose servers with resources. You need to choose a server with a good amount of RAM and CPU power to speed up the processing.
  • Upgrade to servers using PHP 7 or higher. Many hosting still uses PHP 5.X. The newer version of PHP is much faster, so upgrade your hosting to a server that uses PHP7.X.

Optimize Resources

Optimizing the resources to reduce size and HTTP requests is another essential important step you can do. There are myriads of ways to optimize your resources. We will discuss some of the important points here because explaining all or most is beyond the scope of this post.

Use Image Format Carefully
When you use images for the website, you should use the best format for each image JPEG.
You can also serve images in the next-gen formats like JPEG 2000 or JPEG XR rather than regular JPEG.

Extra Note: WebP is a promising image format for the web, but the browser support is only 72% at the time of writing this article. We hope we can use it by the beginning of 2020.

You should avoid using the GIF image format because the image size will be very high.

Use SVG Where Possible
If you have any solid illustrations or logos with PNG or JPEG format on your website, you can convert them into SVG. It will help you load much faster. SVG images are also infinitely scalable without losing quality.

Adobe Illustrator allows you to create SVG. You can even create animations in SVG format if you want. If you use SVG instead of GIF for animations, you can reduce the page size significantly.

Example of SVG animation:

Avoid Oversized Images
You should never use a high-resolution image and scale (resize) it down on the web page to fit your requirement.

If you want a small headshot (300×300 PX for example) of the business owner in about page, you don’t need to upload a high-resolution image. It will increase the page size unnecessarily.

Image Compression
You can also compress images before you upload it to the server. There are many free and paid tools you can use for image compression.

Image Compression Tools
Image Optim is an open-source image compression tool recommended by experts. It’s available for Mac, Windows, and Linux. This tool will also help you to remove all metadata embedded the image files.

We use Optimizilla in our agency to compress images. It’s a free online image optimize tool.

Using the “save for the web” feature on the Adobe Photoshop also will help you to compress images to an extent. You can try reducing the quality using the quality scale (0-100) in the “save for web” window to reduce the image size. You can reduce the quality until you notice a perceptual (visual) quality loss in the image.

Use Content Delivery Networks

You can host your images on content delivery networks like (CDN) instead of directly uploading the images to WordPress.

CDN helps you to reduce your server load on the website you host your website. It save your images in multiple servers across the world and provide the images from the servers closest to the website visitor. CDN servers are much efficient which makes it a good choice.

Use Common Fonts

The usage of custom fonts on the websites adds weight to the resources visitors need to download. So, use common fonts (web safe fonts) like Arial, Helvetica, Times New Roma, Georgia and Comic Sans MS, etc. which are available in most computers.

If you don’t want to use those web safe fonts, limit your fonts to the following Google fonts.

  • Roboto
  • Montserrat
  • Raleway
  • Lato
  • Open Sans

These are some of the most commonly used fonts, so chances are your visitors might have already downloaded these fonts on their computer when they visited other websites.

Install WordPress Cache Plugins

Here is the easiest thing you can do to make your WordPress website load faster. You can compress and cache the resources on your website in many different ways. You can do this in WordPress very quickly with the help of plugins.

Most of the cache plugins will do all required tasks automatically so, we don’t need to worry about setting up anything.

Moreover, most of the popular WordPress caching plugins do more than caching to make the web page load faster to the visitors. Some of them include the following:

  • CSS, JS, HTML document minifying
  • Browser caching

W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache is one of the top-rated and highly recommended caching plugins for WordPress websites. There are also many other well-known caching plugins like WP Super Cache and WP Rocket. We use W3 Total Cache on the WordPress websites we build in our web design company. It’s recommended by experts and featured in well-known online magazines and blogs in web design niche.

You don’t need to know what W3 Total cache (its alternatives as well) do to make the WordPress website load faster. You can activate the plugins and make some small tweaks in the setting. You are ready to go.

It can speed up WordPress significantly and provide a good experience to the visitors.

How to Setup W3 Total Cache

  • W3 Total Cache is completely free, and you can download it from the WordPress plugin repository.
  • All required options will be automatically set upon the plugin activation. So, you don’t need to do anything in the plugin setting.
  • After activating the plugin, you can see a new menu called “Performance” in the WordPress dashboard.
  • If you want to tweak W3 Total Cache default setting, you can go to the Performance menu and make the changes accordingly.
  • You can use the sub-menus to change different options like database caching, browser caching, and minification, etc.

Flushing Cache
One problem that you may get into while using WordPress caching is that the changes you made on the website may not show up because of caching. In this case, you can use the Flush Cache option provided by the plugin to reset or update the cache.

In order to flush the cache in W3 Total Cache, you go to Performance menu in the WordPress and choose the Dashboard submenu under Performance Menu.

There you can see a button called Empty All Caches. You can clear all caches if you click on this link.

Conclusion

These are the essential steps you need to do to speed up WordPress website. You can do these things in many different ways but you should follow the best practices. If you have any doubt about how to do any of the techniques mentioned in the post, please comment below. We are happy to help you at the earliest.

Hashim Hamza Author

Hashim is an SEO Strategist at Spidergems, a web design company in Chennai. He helps businesses to get the best out of their websites by improving online visibility and building solid internet presence.