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Speeding up a WordPress site or blog may be difficult, depending on the complexity of such a website. Easy modifications to the WordPress Core can help you with that.
We at HTH.guide will provide you with some easy-to-use technical steps you can try to improve back-end performance, plus boosting the loading speed for visitors.
What Affects The Speed of Your WordPress Site?
The speed of a WordPress site may be measured with different instruments and may have multiple associated terms. What is usually referred to as WordPress speed is the loading speed the visitors witness. It is not a single factor that is determined by a single operation or value.
From the standpoint of a visitor, the request made to the WordPress site involves typing the address (the URL) in a browser’s address bar and hitting the Enter key, seconds later the page loads. Behind the scenes, there are several important factors that take place and you as a computer user should know.
There are the so-called user conditions that affect the loading speed of a given website and generally, the website administrators cannot change them. Such factors are the following:
- Internet Speed – To a large extent, the most limiting factor is the line connection that is given to the users by their Internet Service provider (ISP). This includes both the stability and access speed to the given site.
- Hardware – Slower computers or devices may not render the site fast enough; this is dependent entirely on their hardware.
- Web Browser Conditions – Some web browser settings, particularly those that cover proxy servers and advertising blocking, may inhibit the loading of certain elements. This can cause considerable slowdowns in the loading of WordPress blogs.
- Security Programs – Some security-related programs may severely disrupt the normal functioning of web browsers and the loading of Internet sites. The likely culprit is an aggressive firewall configuration that may block certain domain names associated with content-delivery networks, which are often used by Internet sites for speed optimizations.
When discussing WordPress speed enhancement, administrators typically differentiate between optimization to the WordPress Core engine and third-party additions.
The first part designates common tips that can be implemented in just about every site powered by WordPress. The second one indicates actions that the administrators can take for any third-party installed extras, such as plugins, themes, etc.
Below are the 5 steps administrators can tweak for achieving better WordPress site speeds.
Step 1. Remove Unused and Non-Optimized WordPress Plugins
Remove unused plugins from the WordPress blog installation. Such plugins take up some of the delegated space for files set by the hosting provider. While most hosting providers give a substantial portion of available space, this may be an issue with smaller packages.
Also, to be listed and loaded by the WordPress blog engine, they also need to be registered in the database and linked to the main core. This creates excessive database requests, which may slow down the loading speed even in the front-end.
On the other hand, badly-optimized plugins should also be removed (or replaced). They are regarded as low-quality versions, that despite the addition of new functionality, have a real, detrimental effect on the overall site performance. There are several signs that reveal if a plugin needs to be changed or removed.
The most common reason is if a site or portion of it slows down immediately after the select plugin is configured and activated. Another is when a user attempts to use plugin functionality and notices issues with this interaction. If plugins are acquired from the main WordPress repository, the website owners can check existing reviews and the rating bestowed by the community.
This may serve as an indicator of the perceived quality of an extension. We at HTH.guide recommend that thorough research is done before installing plugins. Ideally, a test should be performed on a computer, and the performance and operation of the site should be carefully reviewed before being installed on the production server.
Step 2: Prioritize Google Fonts Usage
The use of fonts, loaded from the Google Fonts repository, is a practice that is used in many WordPress themes. Usually, the theme developers choose several families of fonts to suit the graphics and blog type.
A tip that is generally ignored, but is very important, is to prioritize loading the fonts before other content. This involves editing the main variables that are part of the current theme, to load the Google Repository and the desired fonts.
These lines of code should be placed at the beginning of the relevant configuration files to ensure that they are loaded before other important elements.
Our analysis that included many sites showed that some of them have not prioritized fonts properly. This might cause a serious slowdown on older computer systems. Several scenarios can arise from improper use of Google Fonts loading.
A quick example – when the wrong page is opened in a browser. During the loading of that page in the web browser window, the content will be displayed using the default system font and not the Google Font that is configured to show for that website.
While the page is being loaded slowly, the users may not perceive the final product of the website. It may not show properly or they may see a low quality version of the site settings. This may also stop the site from loading and get stuck, while visitors get dissapointed and search another website for what they seek. This will negatively affect the bounce rate and subsequently lead to a possibly substantial drop in SEO ranking.
There are several reasons why one should use Google Fonts instead of the standard ones provided by the WordPress engine core. The most crucial distinction about them is that they are practically a library of licensed fonts that can be used by site developers for free.
This collection includes many optimized font families that are specifically used for web display, and as such, more preferable for WordPress integration.
They can be easily loaded by reaching the specified Google Fonts API and directing it to the chosen fonts family. There are also 2 ways of adding them, which can also affect the loading speed.
The first technique relies on the direct loading of the Fonts through the online catalog. Google provides a convenient code block that should be inserted in the wp_enqueue_style() function of the current theme.
This is done by navigating to the WordPress administrative panel and going to the Appearance tab, from there, choose Editor and then select the file. Add in the font code as shown by Google’s screen.
The second mechanism of integrating the fonts involves using third-party Google Fonts plugins. There are several ones available on the repositories. Both free and paid options are available.
Some of the tips that we from HTH.guide can offer WordPress blog owners:
- Font Weight Limiting – Only the most widely used font weights should be loaded in the code snippet. Loading a complete font family is usually unnecessary and will require far more resources than a selected group of font types.
- Local Fonts Hosting – In some cases, fonts can be hosted locally as opposed to the use of the Google Fonts remote repository. If a fast server is used, this can make boost the performance.
- Google Fonts Specific Advantages – Many of the popular fonts hosted by Google’s repository allow people with disabilities to load the site correctly in their browsers.
Step 3: Images Optimization
Images and graphics elements constitute the most significant resources loading in most WordPress blogs. For this reason, their optimization should be one of the high-priority tasks when speed issues arise.
The most common sense for a slow-loading blog is typically low-compressed images which are not suitable for web use. The choice of the most appropriate format depends mostly on the type of website and whether or not the images are animated and their intention.
For general-purpose images we recommend administrators to rely on progressive JPEG images. This is a new technology that is applied to a well-known format. When such an image is placed in a blog, it will show itself right away and start loading the complete data during the page load.
In practice, users will perceive that everything has loaded in an instant. However, the complete loading takes place in the background as the site is being read.
Progressive JPEG files are a better proposition than comparable formats when it comes to small-size images. Users will not be able to make out that the initial frame is pixelated and is loading in the background.
Other techniques for optimizing image resources include dynamic loading, a popular feature implemented in most modern themes.
This dramatically saves bandwidth and makes the sites much faster to load. If such a technique is implemented, the current view of the page will load only the resources currently visible, such as text and images. With each consecutive scroll of the mouse, more text and other resources would load. This one-page-scroll at a time feature helps.
It is also essential to make certain that good compression is maintained throughout the site. Most of the graphic editing programs have a specific export option called Save for web that allows for the proper optimization.
This will spawn a dialog box in most programs, allowing users to choose the level of compression and fine-tune it in percentages.
WordPress developers should ensure that the largest image on a given page, post, category, or section of the blog is loaded first. It may be crucial, as this indicates to Google that the site is well-optimized.
These types of images should also have the appropriate alt description tags, as well as the correct size implementations and positions around the site. This is usually done automatically in most modern themes, while in others, this is typically an option that can be considered.
Step 4: Resources Optimization
One of the most effective ways to lower the WordPress loading speed for visitors and increase the underlying engine performance is to decrease the number of optionally loaded resources. This is the case when WordPress site administrators use more complex themes or page builders.
This creates an enormous performance hurdle for servers, especially if the blogs serve hundreds of visitors each minute. Several main types of resources should be reviewed and decreased to the maximum extent possible:
- Images – While depending on the blog-type and overall theme design, these should be kept a lower number. Some designer themes may add a particular graphics image set when they enter a horizontal line tag. This can be disabled, which will withdraw the potential loading of the same image on many pages by all visitors. Furthermore, images should be carefully reviewed on a regular basis to remove duplicates.
- Fonts – Many of the larger themes load several whole font families automatically during site loading. Unless all font weights and variants are used on the blog (which is rare), the unused ones can be safely omitted. Refer to the theme documentation to see how this can be implemented.
- CSS Code – Theme CSS code should be as minimal as possible. Most web developers strip any unnecessary code from individual posts and pages. Thus, loading all required scripts are declared in the main theme file without repetitions.
These tips showcase some of the essential optimization techniques for vital WordPress resources.
Minification in WordPress development refers to the practice of devising a site to insert specific optimized code. It is referred to minified as non-important data is omitted: unnecessary lines, spaces, and characters from the lines of code are gone.
This actually makes no difference for the webserver interpreters, and results in smaller sizes, speeding up loading and more.
There are two ways to do it:
- Manual – manually going over each document and applying the necessary changes. This is the preferred option as this can potentially lead to the cleanest resulting document, especially at the hands of an experienced developer.
- Automatic – using special software that will essentially rewrite the code using predetermined instructions, automatically. In some cases, this can produce a worse result as the loading of the plugin, and its use may add to the main engine’s performance overhead.
Conclusion and Speed Result
The 5 tips given above constitute the easiest and most common ways to speed-up a running WordPress installation. While most of them are not that complicated to do, the advanced tweaks require programming knowledge to carry out all of the tasks. It would be better to avoid the use of automated plugins and make manual changes as much as possible to not burden loading.
We at HTH.guide generally advise everyone to go through these steps in the beginning of making a website, preferably even before content is uploaded.
This will make the initial indexing by search engines faster and create a higher initial ranking. In addition, it will prevent any possible issues from arising from code changes implemented to production sites.
How to Speed Up Your WordPress Website – Video Guide
If you find this article useful, then check out our video on the topic: