Website speed can make the difference in whether people wait for your site to load or they leave. Although most only consider website speed when optimizing a site for search, all companies who own a website must consider website performance optimization and how it affects the bottom line. While many site speed improvement tips are better left for a webmaster, there are 5 things you can do to reduce site load time and create a better user experience.
Before you start making changes, it’s important to note that having your site on the right web host is a good start. Cheap, shared hosting services present challenges that could affect your website performance. We use and recommend WP Engine, they take daily backups of your site and offer a CDN (content delivery network) for you installs. Assuming you are already using managed hosting, here’s some other steps you can take immediately to get your site up to par.
- Compress or offload images. Although your branding or blog images establish your identity and make your site beautiful, the size of them may require more load time. If you are building a new site, make sure to only use high-quality rasterized images that are compressed. Another option is to host your images elsewhere using a site like Imgur so that the heavy lifting is being done on another server.
- Host assets elsewhere. Like images, assets like forms, videos and PDF downloads can burden down your servers. Utilize a cloud storage service like Amazon S3 to upload and manage your files. Grab the embed code and paste it on the pages on your site where you want your assets to appear. Or, like we mentioned, WP Engine offers a built-in CDN. Instead of using a form plugin, use Google Forms or JotForm to build and host your forms.
- Cache your site. When a visitor comes to your site, lots of actions happen on the backend to show them your webpage. When you use a cache plugin, it shows visitors a snapshot of your site instead and improves site speed. A popular plugin you can use to do this is W3 Total Cache.
- Uninstall plugins you don’t use. During a spring cleaning, you throw out things you don’t need and that take up space. The same goes for your website. Not only do unused plugins create a security risk, they access resources your site needs to load. If a plugin is not critical to the function of your website or it duplicates the functionality of another, delete it.
- Delete old post and page revisions. While it’s good to be able to rollback a website page or post to a previous version if there’s been a mistake, over time, your WordPress database becomes loaded down with several versions that aren’t needed anymore. Use this code to delete post revisions and reduce database size.
To further monitor your site speed and get recommendations on improvements you can make, use a service like Pingdom, GTmetrix, or use the speed test below. The recommendations may point out more complicated updates that need to be completed by a webmaster. If you need support with ensuring your site is optimized for the best user experience, don’t hesitate to contact our office.