The world of optimising websites is a deep and oft-times confusing one. Web developers / designers have so much jargon style language that even for me (one of them!), it can feel like we're not even speaking the same language.
I'm here to give it to you straight, though. If you're wondering why your WordPress website is running slow, I'm not only going to tell you why, but I'm going to tell you how to fix it too. Quick, easy websites shouldn't just be for those who can afford to hire a developer after all.
And if you want a more personal look, make sure you check out my Magnetic Presence website audit package >. I'll give you a bunch of totally actionable advice on how to improve your website, without all the jargon and bullshit.
But to the point. You've got a slow website, and you wanna know why.
- Your website theme, PHP version, WordPress version and / or plugins are out of date
Not only can this affect the speed of your website, but it can also affect how secure it is. Scheduling an hour or two every month to update your theme, plugins and WP version can save you a whole heap of heartache. Run a backup first (either through your CPanel or using a plugin such as UpDraft), and then click update on each one in your Dashboard, one at a time.
Depending on your host, you can also have this done automatically - I personally use and recommend Siteground (affiliate link), who will always make sure you're on the latest version of WP and can even update your plugins for you.
Additionally, (if you have a good host) they should always make sure your website is on the latest PHP version. This is managed in your CPanel though, not your WordPress dashboard. Again, a good host like Siteground will do this for you! Just ask their support if you're not sure.
- Your website host is a little too budget for comfort
Most small businesses who choose to have their websites on WordPress, will choose a shared cloud-based hosting plan, like that which Siteground offers (and countless others). These are fantastic because they're affordable, feature-rich and means having a website is accessible to pretty much anyone.
But since they're shared cloud servers, you share all of that internet server space with an unknown number of other websites. Most hosts will do the right thing and limit that number so that nobody's website runs too slowly. Others? Well... let's just say, do your research.
If you run a sitespeed test on your website, crowded server space will usually show up as something like "server response time". Shared cloud servers will always be a little slower than private cloud servers, but if it's blowing you out to... let's say over 5 seconds, I'd strongly consider switching hosts or contacting them about upgrading your subscription.
And let's be honest, even 5 seconds is slow in the internet world!
- You're not using a caching app or plugin
So caching plugins are a great way to optimise your website, as they create a static version of your web page on your site visitor's browser. This means when they return to your site, their browser already remembers what was there before, so it doesn't need to download it all again.
This serves your website up faster and more efficiently.
Some hosts have some kind of in-built caching ability, but some of them aren't as effective as custom-built caching plugins. There are plenty of free plugins out there on WordPress, the most notable being WP Super Cache. Siteground also has a great free one for existing users called SG Optimizer which works well! If you have the budget however, I highly recommend WP Rocket.
- Your beautiful images are a bit too heavy
A general rule of thumb for website images is to keep them under 200kb. You can stretch that a little bit, especially if you have a caching plugin, but let's aim for around that number.
I love PNG format images as they're usually of the highest quality but that also means the file is a little on the hefty side. To play it safe, resize your images in Photoshop or some other photo editing software before exporting them as a JPG.
Whether you use PNG or JPG, after resizing them, I then recommend squishing the file size even more by using a free compression tool. I use CompressJPG and CompressPNG.
Hopefully by now your images are a much more manageable file size, but as an extra precaution, you can also install an image optimisation plugin such as WP Smush or Imagify. Enable Lazy Load, and WebP conversions for fully optimised images!
And those are four of the real reasons your website is running a little slow! If you're hiring a designer, make sure you ask them what plugins they utilise to optimise your website. If (like me!) they include installing premium themes and plugins like WP Rocket, you can rest assured you're onto a good one.
Until next time, be kind to yourself and create something remarkable!
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