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Easy Steps to a Lean Mean WordPress Machine

WordPress Website Speed Tips

WordPress has unique resource requirements which demand that specific processes be put in place to keep your site running at optimum efficiency. How your website is set up on that hosting also contributes to or degrades your website's speed.

The first consideration is to make sure that you are hosting on a quality Managed WordPress (aff) host. Yes, hosting can make a world of difference.

Not all “WordPress hosting (aff)” is adequate either. Besides having the resources your site will need, experienced customer support needs to be available when you need it. You can check out who I use for my sites in my WordPress Toolkit.

WordPress sites that are not appropriately watched will develop performance issues over time. Poorly coded themes, too many plugins, inadequate hosting — all add up to having a website that doesn't load fast enough to help you gain rankings and maintain site visitors.

Your WordPress Site Must Be FAST

According to surveys done by Akamai and Gomez.com, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and they tend to abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds. 79% of web shoppers who have trouble with website performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again and around 44% of them would tell a friend if they had a poor experience shopping online.

Read the rest here: Speed Is A Killer

How to Get Your Site Popping

Here are the basics to get you started…

1. Keep Your WordPress Website Updated

When you see that WordPress or plugins need to be updated — update. Same for themes; keep them updated as well. Not only does every update include security hardening, but they also include bug fixes and performance improvements.

You always want your WordPress website to be running the most recent everything. Deploying the current versions allows you to use the latest and greatest that the developers have determined will make WordPress run best.

2. Performance Optimization Plugins

Depending on your web host, some plugins can help to keep your site running efficiently.

Hummingbird: I use Hummingbird on this site. Hummingbird makes your website faster by adding new ways to boost Google PageSpeed Insights with fine-tuned controls over file compression, deferring CSS and Javascript styles and scripts, minify for CSS and JS, Lazy Load integration, and world-class caching.

Updraft Plus: “Allows you to optimize your database, repair database, backup database, restore database, delete backup database, drop/empty tables and run selected queries. Supports automatic scheduling of backing up and optimizing of database.”

WP-Optimize provides additional tools to clean up your database. Auto draft posts, spam comments, post revisions, and stale post revisions are a few things that can be deleted to speed up your database.

WP-Super-Cache: “This plugin generates static HTML files from your dynamic WordPress blog. After an HTML file is generated, your Web server will serve that file instead of processing the comparatively heavier and more expensive WordPress PHP scripts.” Take the time to learn all the options to know what will work best for your unique site.

W3 Total Cache: “Easy Web Performance Optimization (WPO) using caching: browser, page, object, database, minify and content delivery network support.”

IMPORTANT: Before installing a caching plugin, ask your Web host which caching plugin will work best with their setup. Because some hosts have built-in caching, a plugin may not be necessary or may cause a conflict.

3. Review and Choose Plugins Wisely

Only install those plugins that serve a needed purpose. Also, make sure the plugins you install are supported and tested up to the most recent version of WordPress.

Only then can you expect the best performance. Because of this, I lean into premium plugins (aff)—worth the expense for the added security, performance, and support.

When you run performance reports, you'll see the plugins using the most resources. If they provide must-have functionality, investigate if there are less resource-intensive alternatives.

4. Compress Your Images

Image size and use are where most sites have issues. Specifically uploading humongous images that don't need to be as large as they are — physically and file size-wise.

Never upload an image larger than it needs to be to display within your theme. All themes provide specific image size requirements. Find out what those are and stick to them.

I use the Smush plugin that reduces image file sizes and improves performance. Smush also provides lazy loading, resizing, compressing, which can help to improve your Google Page Speed.

5. Use a CDN

Content Delivery Networks speed up your site by distributing your files and load across multiple systems. CDNs also offer another layer of security.

I use Cloudflare for my sites.  Here's an informative article for you to review: Understanding Cloudflare's CDN.

WordPress Speed and UX Tools

So how do you know where you need to make improvements? There are all kinds of tools to test your site and determine what needs to be addressed.

Google also offers several tools to investigate your site and determine how to make speed and user-experience improvements. Here are some resources and articles to bookmark:

WordPress Themes are Not Equal

Last but not least, I use only Premium Themes. Don't underestimate the importance of using a quality premium theme. A theme that will keep up with changes, bug fixes, and security concerns.

[ Read: Choosing the Right WordPress Premium Theme ]

Solid frameworks and clean code go a lonnnnnng way to keeping your site running efficiently. Not to mention having support when you need it.

The above steps are your start to a faster website. You can have a great-looking website, but if it hangs or is challenging to use, that's called lost opportunity.

At your service,

WordPress Consultant Judith