Speed your site up

We’ve previously discussed how a slow loading WordPress website can be disastrous for users. But how do you go about fixing it? Recently we’ve made some changes to our own site to make sure it’s running as sweet as a DeLorean at 88mph so we thought we’d share what we did so you can do it yourself.

digital-speedometer

Caching

Caching is usually at the top of every list for “how to speed up yourself” and for very good reason. Caching allows the browser to store static website files locally allowing the browser to load your site much quicker.

We decided to use W3 Total Cache as it’s almost become an industry standard for WordPress sites. It’s currently being used on over one million installs including sites such as AT&T, stevesouders.com, mattcutts.com, mashable.com, smashingmagazine.com and makeuseof.com.

You may want to set up the plugin differently to us, so I won’t go into all the finer details but enabling options such as Minify & Database cache are a great start.

Minify will mean that W3 will reduce all your css files down to one line instead of them being hundreds or potentially thousands of lines. Making it much quicker for the browser to read.

Database cache will mean the database is cached allowing for posts & pages to load at an increased rate as its not got to query the database whenever you load a new page or post.

Image Compression

WordPress by default now will use responsive images, meaning that no matter what size you upload an image at you will get served the image at the appropriate size. But this doesn’t mean you should just upload images at an extremely high file size.

Whenever we upload images to the website we make sure we size them down to the max size they will be used at, then we adjust the image quality down to bring the file size down to be more appropriate.

On top of this we use Doc Brown’s Flux compression…

docbrown

Just kidding… our favourite plugin to use is WP Smush Image Optimisation which strips the images down the smallest size possible without you having to do a thing. You just upload like normal.

Hosting

Servers? Where we’re going we don’t need servers…

Cloud hosting is becoming increasingly popular, we have all of our sites split across two different servers, shared cloud hosting and a VPS (virtual private server). The majority of our sites are sat on the shared cloud hosting which is fine for standard websites, but we do also have some of our larger customers and ecommerce websites on the VPS just to get them running better. You can read more about our pricing on these servers here.

For our own site we use the VPS purely to get that extra speed for users on the website.

WordPress Version & Plugins

The version of WordPress and your plugins don’t play a major part in the speed of your site although it’s always best to keep them up to date as they’ll more than likely offer the best performance in the up to date versions.

Whenever we build sites, including our own we try and restrict the amount of plugins we use. This is due to them loading more external resources. The less plugins you have, the less code the browser has to render meaning faster load times.

Some plugins are particularly bulky, for example WPML the go-to plugin for websites that need translating. It has a extremely in-depth admin section to the site and requires a lot of power to allow users to change language on the fly. One of our larger sites that uses this is germains.com which sits on the VPS meaning it runs fine but when tested on shared cloud hosting you can really tell the difference.

The above list is something we handle on a day to day basis at Jigowatt & it’s maybe not something you can do if you’ve just set up your first WordPress website. So why not get in touch, we’ll review your site and put in any recommendations that we think can help increase the speed of your right. This way you can focusing on keeping your business up to speed and leave us to move your site up a gear.

Written by Luke Reid Webbie

Luke is an aspiring Front-End Developer who also enjoys WordPress theming. Luke is eager to expand his knowledge & take in as much code as possible.

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