How to Improve WordPress Site Performance For Beginners
You want your site to perform great for all sorts of reasons, such as search engine optimization benefits, top-notch usability, common sense… , just to name a few. WordPress is a great content management system (CMS) to use, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can overload it before you know it. This article helps you make sure that you keep most crucial performance aspects in check. And no panic! It’s really easy to do it if you’re willing to learn a thing or two. Now let’s see what’s under the performance hood.
Improve Your WordPress Site Performance
The speed of your site is one of the most important site performance aspects you need to keep track of. Other than just being common sense, you also want to make your site as quick as possible for other reasons. If it takes your site over 3 seconds to load, you lose lots of potential site visitors because they just get sick of waiting for your site to be loaded and go elsewhere.
Too Many Plugins
Once you get to know about WordPress plugins and all the amazing things they allow you to do, it’s easy to get plugin crazy and install plugins left and right. For starters, you need to install only the plugins that you totally need. You should check your site performance after installing every single plugin because some of them are not really optimized and can make your site load REALLY slow. You can keep track of your site’s performance and speed in particular with Pingdom.com or any other free alternative like Google PageSpeed Insights.
Also, you need to keep track if your new plugin helps your site in general (more sales, more visitors, etc). If you install a plugin just for the sake of it, think twice. Other than slowing down your site in general, you jeopardize your site’s overall security by installing all sorts of plugins because if at least one of them is not properly coded (unsecurely), all your site is at risk.
If you just upload your image to WordPress and use the built-in editor to rescale it or perform other modifications, you are doing a HUGE disservice to your site. Thing is, the original image that you upload to your WordPress dashboard does get changed and used.
WordPress just creates a copy with your modifications applied. The original image just sits there, slows down your site and takes up your hosting space for no good reason. It’s best to just use Adobe Photoshop to resize your images as you need them for upcoming posts.
Image File Formats
Also, you should use proper image file formats. Here’s a quick explanation why.
- .JPEG (.JPG) – You should use this image file extension if you need an image with lots of detail and without transparent areas
- .PNG – This image extension is the way to go if your image contains semi-transparent areas and has lots of detail. Note: it’s a lossless and heavyweight file format. So you need to use it really sparingly.
- .GIF – You want to use this format if your image has just a few colors and no semi-transparent areas. Note: the image format is usually used for logos.
Now that you know what you need to keep in mind while working with images, it’s high time to get to know how to work with video because it’s something that you may want to use on your site as well.
Optimized Video Use
In our day and age, every decent site has to use video because most people are prone to understand stuff better if it’s explained in visual (video) format. Plus people stay longer on your site if it has an explainer video. Other than than that, it’s also beneficial for the SEO standpoint because web pages with video tend to be of higher quality and Google treats them as such.
Since using a video on your site may slow it down, you should use an image thumbnail that the user can click to start your video instead of embedding your video in the actual page. Other than just being good for your loading time and consequently SEO, it’s also a great style approach because such videos just look more professional. You may want to use the Video Thumbnails for this type of functionality.
You need to also keep in mind that your web page code can contribute to your site speed. For example, you want to make sure that you always specify the width and height for every single image you use on your site. If you don’t do so, your site loads slower every single time it needs to figure out how much space your image needs. Using specific values speeds up your site because your browser has the info about how much space your images need and there’s no guess work left.
Content Delivery Network
If you’re OK to go the extra mile, you may want to use a service that allows copying your site to many servers across the world and use a copy that is the closest to the user. That’s the approach that content delivery networks (CDNs) use.
The distance between your server and the end user still matters, especially if your site is stored on a server in California and your users access it from New Zealand. In this particular case, the user from New Zealand would get a copy that is closest to him. Say, the one that is on your Australian server.
There are a slew of plugins for CDN integration. For instance, WP Performance Pack which serves (dynamically generated) images through CDN. Other than that, it falls back to local serving if CDN fails. The plugin supports CoralCDN, MaxCDN and custom solutions.
Since a well-performing site is a great thing for a deluge of reasons, you should do your best to improve your WordPress site performance at all times and in every single way possible. As you could see for yourself, you’re just supposed to do a thing or two and your site will become snappier in no time. Both your site and your audience will benefit from those sort of improvements.