Why Does Speed Matters in a WP website?

Why Does Speed Matters?

The loading speed of a website is very important due to the fact that the attention span of the visitors is much shorter today than it used to be a few years ago. New technology is coming out daily, so it is very important to keep updating our website and our digital marketing strategies.

On average you have 10 – 20 seconds to grab your audience’s attention to your website, according to the Nielsen Norman Group. This is called Bounce Rate. For example, if your website loads in 10 seconds, you’ve just wasted 10 precious seconds to grab that attention. This is one of the main reasons for your site to be optimized and your hosting service to be fast. The loading time is the difference between getting a client or not. You won’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.

What Tools or techniques can improve the speed of my WordPress website?

Many tools can be applied to improve your speed in a WordPress website besides having a hosting service that optimizes speed and applies performance-enhancing tools to their customers. Our favorite is Siteground. Let’s talk about each one.

  • Identifying and prioritizing issues
  • Page size and content optimizations
  • Theme and plugins optimizations

How do I identify and prioritize the issues?

The easiest and fastest way for you to find these issues is using free tools that can do all the work for you. We have two free recommendations for you:

The first one is Pingdom Tools. They will display the results for you in different tabs, will grade your website speed, and will give you a list of issues to attack.

My personal favorite GTMetrix. It is my favorite because it will benchmark my website against Google PageSpeed and Yahoo slow test. Finally, it will give me a list of issues classified by the severity of the issue. 

What common issues might I find?

The most common speed issues are:

Too many external fonts, too many posts on the front page, large images that haven’t been optimized, bloated themes that contain too many features, and finally, too many social and sharing plugins.

If you feel overwhelmed, start with these issues and see how much your speed time improves. Even though your report may show a lot of issues, some of them will be time-consuming to fix but will not result in a major improvement of speed. So, prioritizing the issues and fixing the ones that will give you the major improvements is our goal.

Ask yourself two questions:

What effect resolving the issue will it have on my site?

How difficult is it going to be to fix the issue?

Answer these questions and start to prioritize. 

How do page size and content optimization will help my page speed?

Let’s start with reducing the number of posts shown on your home page: In WordPress just go to your Settings>Reading Settings>Blog Pages show at most

Then, change the blog pages “Show at most” value to a lower number. 

Split long posts on your index page

If you use long posts on your site, split them into pages using the <!–nextpage→ tag within your content. That way, your users will navigate easily through your page and one big slow page can be split into several faster ones.

This one is huge for me. I love images and used to added sliders to my websites like crazy. Now I understand why wa snot my best option. 

Replace sliders with multiple images to have only one image

The plugins that WordPress uses to make these sliders don’t have the lighter and optimized code written. Secondly and more important, the sliders are not very user friendly when viewed in a mobile device. If you still need to have a slider in your webpage, we recommend Meta Slider plugin that is free and has a optimized extension.

How do I use appropriate image sizes?

Our recommendation is fixing the images before uploading them to your website. Your images should be under 100 KB and around 500×500 pixels. Don’t try to fix them by showing them smaller because it wont do anything for your site speed.

We use the free plugin EWWW Image Optimizer to optimize images. You will see how optimizing and sizing the images will significantly gain better performance on your site.

Why should I enable Caching?

With a great caching solution enabled and functioning properly, your website will be as fast as a static page. Until, of course, you make changes. This will load your page dynamically for your first visitor right after your modification. Then, the cache will be refreshed and the next visit will load even faster.

The best recommendations are WP Super cache plugin or for a premium option, if you have the budget,  WP Rocket.

How do I choose my themes and plugins when optimizing my website?

Select a reputable Theme

When looking for themes for your WordPress website, look for a company with great reviews in the WordPress community blog. The time spent researching and looking for reviews on them will save you money in the future when you want to invest money on your site. It is like a foundation for a building. Without a great foundation, any improvement will be a waste of money. 

My recommendation is DIvi Themes. We have used it for all our websites. I will dedicate another post only to Themes. Always pick themes that have the main functionality you need without so many additional features like carousels and sliders that will require Javascript and CSS resources to work and simply will be wasting your resources and time. 

Why should I Optimize for mobile devices?

I can assure you that most of your traffic is made from a mobile device first, and second from a tablet. That is why it is important to be sure that your website is using friendly with people’s thumbs and runs faster and easier on a phone (2G, 3G or LTE). 

What this means, is that phones will have slower connections than one at home. So the best practice is to only show the basic information that a customer needs to see in mobile. Instead of cutting down on your website features, disable certain non- indispensable information for mobile devices.

If you don’t want to do this. There is an option.  WP Touch is a plugin that will create a version of your page for mobile. However, it is always better to have your native page optimized for both.

How do I optimize Plugins?

Keep your plugins up to date. Most of the updates are created to operate faster and better, so keep it up to date. Using the most recent PHP versions will give your site a performance boost.

Don’t overlap functionality. If you have one plugin that can do multiple jobs, don’t install another one to do the same. If there is a plug in that you are not using, erase it.

Clean up plugin options. After deleting the plugin, clean your cache. These plugins will leave data in your database that will slow down your site. A good way to get rid of that extra data, is a plugin called Garbage collector.

Finally, don’t forget to back up your database before erasing any data. 

Which Server and Hosting optimizations are best?

WordPress specialized hosting services will often provide you with some sort of caching. My recommendation is SG Cache Press. You will have to be hosted by Siteground. This service saves the outcome of all PHP operations, database etc. in the server RAM, and when another visitor to the site opens the same page, it serves its content from the memory without even reaching the web server. This makes it work faster and lighter. 

Using this cache service will increase the amount of traffic that a site can handle.  Depending on your site, the loading time can go from 2-3 seconds to 0.5 seconds! 

My site in Godaddy was loading on 4-5 seconds, when I moved it to Siteground, it now loads in approximately 2 seconds before I even optimized anything else. 

Why to use a SSL and HTTP/2?

If you have a server that supports HTTP/2 and working SSL certificate, your traffic won’t be slow down and you will be able to provide encrypted information in your site. 

SSL is essential for e-commerce sites or any site handling sensitive data like emails, credit cards, and personal information.

Some hosting services will charge you for an SSL certificate annually. Siteground offers free SSL in all their packages.