Miscellaneous WordPress

5 Most Effective Ways to Improve WordPress Website Speed

Imagine yourself in the shoes of an online shopper. While browsing through the net you come across this online advertisement of a beautiful dress that seems like a perfect fit for you. Plus, it is available at a high discount! Excited, you click on the ad, and it takes you to the seller’s website. Anticipating a great buy, you rush to get your credit card. You come back to see the product page still loading. You wait for 5 seconds, then 10, even 15! Finally, your browser times out. You try a few more times before getting frustrated and exiting the website.

Well, we have all been in this scenario! This is just one example of how frustrating a slow website can be for your online visitors and even worse for your business. Slow websites can significantly impact your incoming traffic, page views, conversions, revenue, and even your online reputation.

Here’s an industry stat to ponder on. Market research conducted by the Aberdeen Group found that even a 1-second delay in page loading can reduce page views by 11%, conversions by 7%, and overall customer satisfaction by a significant 16%. These are worrisome data for any online business.  

So, this brings us to the question – what is the ideal loading speed a website should function on?  Let’s find out!

What Should the Ideal Website Loading Speed Be?

Before we dive into the details, let’s look at some interesting findings around website loading speed. Did you know that If your website loads in 1.7 seconds, it is faster than 75% of all other websites? And if it loads in 0.8 seconds, it is faster than 94% of websites. On the other hand, a loading time of 2.9 seconds means that your website is only faster than 50% of all websites. Doesn’t sound so great now, eh?

Research also shows that 53% of mobile phone users will exit a website page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load on their phones. Blame it on technology or short attention span, it is what it is!
Looking at these statistics, it is safe to assume that the ideal or recommended loading time (as of 2019) for any website is under 3 seconds.

So, is your WordPress website taking more than 3 seconds to load on a desktop or a mobile phone? If yes, then read on to learn how you can make it faster.

Improve WordPress Website Speed

5 Proven Ways to Improve WordPress Website Speed

While increasing your WordPress website speed is important for your business growth, we don’t want you to end with a crashed or broken website while doing so. Nor should you end up losing your valuable website data. Hence, we recommend that you take a complete backup of your current website data before making any changes. Sounds too complicated? Don’t worry, automated WordPress backup plugin tools like BlogVault are easy and convenient to use even for novice WordPress users. Check out some of its cool features if you are interested.

Now, let’s get on to the five most effective ways to improve your WordPress website speed.

Change Your WordPress Host

A WordPress hosting company provides you with a web host that stores all your website data, including your website content, images, plugins/themes, and all WordPress files. The type of website host that you choose for your business website can have a major influence on your website loading speed. Primarily, there are three types of WordPress hosts, namely:

Shared Hosts

Among the most common type of web hosting, shared hosts are more economical for companies (particularly new enterprises or startups) as monthly plans range between $3 to $25. However, as the name suggests, shared hosts also host other websites (in addition to your website), thus dividing the server resources. This could adversely impact website performance and cause them to load slowly.

Virtual Private Server (or VPS)

VPS hosting works in a  great way to reduce hosting costs. It is an excellent fit for bootstrap startups or for WordPress users who can manage the technical side of web hosting on their own. You can also choose a third-party VPS host provider that would cost you between $5-15 each month.

However, the flip side of VPS hosting is that you don’t get any technical help or support if you need to troubleshoot any website issues.

Managed hosts

Managed hosting is a dedicated hosting service where you can host your website without sharing any server space with other websites. Although more expensive than other types of hosts, managed hosting offers a variety of benefits to your business, including optimized website performance, automatic website backups, and customer support.

Our Recommendation: If your website is not hosted on a managed host, we recommend you migrate your website to a managed host. This can improve your overall website performance and speed.

Optimize Your Website Images

Did you know? According to a November 2018 finding by HTTP Archive, images constitute around 21% of your website data on an average. That’s quite a high percentage! Needless to say, large or unoptimized pictures on your website can increase its loading time. Using optimized images can reduce their file size (without impacting image quality), thus enabling them to load faster on any user device.

Here are some useful tips to optimize your website images:

  • Use image compression plugins like WP Smush or the Squoosh app (available from Google) to compress all your images before uploading them to your WordPress website.
  • Use the right image format such as JPEG format (for high-quality images with loads of colors) or PNG format (for simple images). Avoid the use of heavy image formats such as BMP or TIFF that can increase image loading time.
  • Animated GIF images are fun to include on your website, but too many of them can impact website performance (due to their large file sizes of over 1MB). Keep them to a minimum or use compression tools designed for animated GIFs.
  • Use optimization techniques like lazy loading that loads the visible website content quickly but delays the loading and rendering of additional content that is outside the user’s view. 
  • Other optimization methods like using responsive images (for mobile users), switching to the SVG image format, or using icon fonts.

Our Recommendation: Only use website images with a file size of less than 100KB.

Remove Unused or Low-Quality Plugins

Here’s a question for you – How many WordPress plugins should you install on your website? Is 10 fine or 20 or even 50? Well, a popular notion is that you should not install too many plugins as it can slow down your website speed. On the other hand, there are WordPress websites with over 40 installed plugins but still are loading in under 1 second. Incredibly fast! So how does that work?

Well, the truth is that it is not just the number but also the quality of plugins that matters. Just like any other component, WordPress plugins must also be optimized for excellent website performance and speed. Here are some good practices for plugins that you can follow to maintain your website speed:

    1. Only install good-quality plugins from trusted sources that are optimized for an excellent performance.

    2. Test your website speed before and after installing any plugin to see if there is a major difference.

    3. Many WordPress plugins which are uninstalled from a website, leave behind database records along with plugin files and folders. Use the right method to uninstall these plugins from your website installation completely.

    4. Prevent overloading of the client’s website server by using Plugins that are executed on their own dedicated servers (such as the Blogvault Backup Plugin mentioned before)
    5. Use speed testing tools to determine which of your installed plugins are slowing down your website.

Our Recommendation: Take stock of all your installed plugins and retain only those that are necessary for your website.

Enable Browser Caching

Do you have a large percentage of repeat visitors to your website? If yes, then browser caching is the most proven way of improving your website speed. How fast is that? Well, a website performance test conducted by Tenni Thereur found that page loading time reduced from 2.4 seconds (for users with an empty cache) to just 0.9 seconds (for users with a full cache).

So, what exactly is a browser caching? For any website, browsers have to load a lot of static information (including images, CSS stylesheet, JavaScript files, and more) for any website visitor. The trick is that browser cache stores most of the static information (for first-time visitors) which enables it not to reload the entire information (for repeat visitors). Thus, making the website load faster from the cache memory.

Here are 2 of the best approaches to implement caching for your website:

Server-level Caching

       This approach is more convenient for a website owner as your WordPress host provider performs all the required caching at the server level. As an owner, you don’t have to bother about searching or installing any caching tool for your website. Most of the managed web host providers enable caching services automatically for your website.

  • Caching Plugins

Opt for a third-party WordPress caching plugin like the free W3 Total Cache plugin or the premium WP Rocket plugin if your web host does not include a caching service with their package. Easy to install, these plugins are very user-friendly even for any novice WordPress users.

Improve WordPress Website Speed

Our Recommendation: If your web host does not provide caching, then opt for a paid caching plugin for improving your website speed.

Check for Any Malware Infection

Have you tried all the above 4 methods and your website is still slow?  Then it’s quite likely that your website has been hacked or infected with malware. There are varieties of malware that can load your website with unnecessary files, which can ultimately slow down your website.

Apart from impacting website performance, malware attacks can result in a major website crash or loss of valuable data that may take days or weeks to recover.

 

Our Recommendation: Install a WordPress security plugin like the MalCare tool that is effective in scanning and detecting any malware infection on your website. Its one-click WordPress malware removal tool can clean your website from any malicious code and restore your website in quick time. 

In Conclusion

All the good work that goes into designing a great-looking website can be quickly undone if it takes more than 3 seconds to load on any user device.

Be it a business or an online visitor; nobody wants to experience the frustration of a slow-loading website. This set of 5 tried-and-tested methods are our recommendation on how you can significantly improve the speed and performance of your WordPress website. Try them out and let us know about your experience in the comments below!