Need for speed?

Everyone hates a slow website. That feeling of your life slipping away as a page fails to load isn’t one anyone likes to have, so it’s important that people don’t experience it when they’re visiting your site.

If you are serious about your website, speed is essential. A faster website improves SEO, increases conversions and even boosts customer happiness. You definitely want faster load times, and one way to get it is to speed up WordPress.

Performance Foundry is a company that specializes in speed. We take load times very seriously, and our services have been created with speed in mind. Whether it is WordPress development or just Managed Hosting, our customers hire us because when it comes to speed, we don’t play around.

So sit back and enjoy as we open up our war chest and reveal our best weapons against slow websites.

1. Choose a good host

I know, this advice is getting old. But believe me, nothing will help your site’s speed as much as a fast server will. A good rule of thumb: don’t go with the cheapest shared server available.

(Here is our shameless plug for our Foundry Managed WordPress Hosting service.)

choose a good web host

2. Pick a lean theme

Sure, those one-size-fits-all themes at ThemeForest look amazing. However, most of them are heavily bloated. You’re better off with one of the default WordPress themes such as Twenty sixteen.

(In case you are wondering, yes, there is also a plug for our WordPress Site Development service.)

3. Cache everything

WordPress sites are dynamic. This means that every time someone visits your site, the server has to build every page they look at, using files and a database. Every. Single. Time. With cache enabled, you skip that building process for a few visits. You can use a plugin to create a cache, and that’s a good place to start, but if you’re serious about speed, set your cache at the server level.

Cache everything

4. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for static files

While your server is busy building those pages, you can use a “dumb” server to handle files that don’t need to be built, such as images. Better yet, make copies of those files and plant them in different locations around the world, so that users always have a nearby copy when they try to load them — this is a standard functionality of CDNs, actually. CloudFlare might be a good place to start, since it has a free account option (and a WordPress plugin).

5. Compress images

On an average site, images make up more than 50% of the load. If you want speed, you need to crunch those images to their last bit. That means making them smaller in size (width, height) and weight (kilobytes). Luckily, there are a couple of plugins that can help with that: Imsanity can be used to resize images and Kraken does wonders for the weight (this requires the Kraken.io API).

Compress images6. Avoid external files

All the optimization in the world won’t help if you have a lot of files loading from another server. If you’re doing this, users have to access multiple servers each time they visit one of your pages. Social network widgets are a good example of what to avoid, as they take up resources unnecessarily — a simple link to your Facebook page will accomplish the same goal.

Fonts are another killer — be careful to only let your page load the fonts that are actually in use in your design, instead of loading all the variations of a Google Font. Yes, they look nice, but what’s the point if you don’t need them?

Keep connections low

7. Keep requests under control

Every page in your site is composed of various files. There’s the HTML, then the CSS, then the images, etc. Some modern websites might “need” more than a hundred files just to load a single page, which is preposterous. Combine all your CSS files into one master file (in geek talk, this is known as concatenation), then do the same with Javascript. You get extra points if you “minify” the file afterwards (geek translator: delete spaces).

These are the seven most effective steps you can take to speed up your WordPress website. Of course we could have included hundreds more, like using lazyload, keeping your plugins to a minimum, and disabling trackbacks and revisions, just to name a few. But of all the things you could do to make your site faster, these seven will have the most impact.

Want to talk speed? Get in touch below:

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