I've been blogging and developing custom WordPress websites for my clients for the past few years. And one of the problems I often encountered was the website was too slow to respond.
Is website speed important?
Either you use your website as your online journal or business, the speed of your website is extremely important and necessary. People today, have the lack of patience to wait. If anything doesn't happen in a few seconds, the chances are people will avoid your website and the search engine bots crawlers too!
With that, if your website is slow, you will lose visitors and potential customers. As well the rank of your website in search engines will be affected.
Google has repeatedly reminded the web owners the importance of load speed in its search engine algorithm. The biggest web search engine doesn't want to send its traffic to a slow website.
I'm not that yet expert in WordPress and still exploring some of its functionalities, but here are my top 10 WordPress plugins that helped me to increase the speed of my website dramatically.
Just a bit of note, I only recommend the plugins that I used. And this is for self-hosted blogs.
I recently discovered that every time I hit the publish or update button in posts, it creates a revision of your post and stores it in your database. It happens if you are using the WordPress Editor.
The same how it works in your unapproved and spam comments. It would dramatically affect your website speed.
(C) WP Optimize
To counteract this, thanks to the team who developed the WP Optimize plugin. It cleans up all of your post revisions and all those unapproved and spam comments from your database. It also optimizes your database for better performance.
One more thing I like about this plugin is that you don't need to execute it manually as you can actually schedule it to run automatically.
To speed up the process, you need to leverage the power of browser to cache pages and badly, WordPress cannot do it without a plugin.
WP Super Cache does the job of remembering the items the browser needs to load. It generates a static HTML file from your WordPress blog. Once the file is created, your server uses that to speed up the process.
The plugin runs automatically once it’s uploaded and activated. It also has advanced settings, but for a beginner like me or you, the default settings work best.
Your WordPress Blog hosted this file locally on your server making your server to load it repeatedly whenever a new user visits your website. Google Libraries plugin does a good job of allowing your website to host these files and other scripts on Google's AJAX Libraries API.
The plugin was a bit technical one and you don't need to know more about how it works, but it does a great job improving my website speed.
Normally, some of the scripts and style sheets in your website will load synchronously. This plugin converts render-blocking CSS and JS files into NON-render-blocking, improving the performance of a web page.
Synchronously, where scripts are loaded sequentially, one after another, starting with the <head> tag
Asynchronously, where some scripts can be loaded simultaneously.
With synchronously, the other script has to wait for the first script to load completely unlike loading asynchronously, it doesn't wait for other scripts. Scripts can run simultaneously.
Websites normally have line spaces in its codes. I am guilty of doing this because for a developer to understand the code, I often practice of putting breaks with each line. But it has an effect on the page load.
Autoptimize plugin creates a minify or compressed version of your WordPress scripts making your website to load quickly.
CloudFlare offers a lot of benefits to your website. They offer a FREE Subscription wherein you can use their flexible SSL to make your website secure by running it with "https", and it offers a CDN or content delivery network.
CloudFlare makes a cache version of your website. When your website is down, it can immediately display the cached version of your website for your readers.
Today running on https is important. Google Chrome started to display if sites were secure or not.
Later on, I will update this article on how to setup your website to run on https using Cloudflare Flexible SSL. But for now, here's a quick tutorial how to setup your WordPress Site with CloudFlare.
As the plugin name suggests, there are several websites you can test your page speed. I use Google Page Insights as it also checks if your website is loading properly in mobile devices.
This plugin in speed up page load times and improve website scores in services like PageSpeed, YSlow, Pingdom, and GTmetrix.
8. WP Smush
I figured out that one of the cause, why my website responds too slow, was the images I had on it. Since I used large and high definition images, the server needs to download this images every time the user load the web pages.
WP Smush, reduces image file sizes every time you upload a new image. It offers also to optimize your images in bulk up to 50 images (for free).
The time I smushed all my images, my websites loads faster.
9. Lazy Load
Each time your website loads from the browser of the user, it downloads everything. Lazy Load plugin does a great job of loading my images only when I need it.
To define lazy loading, according to Wikipedia, it is a design pattern commonly used in computer programming to defer initialization of an object until the point at which it is needed. It can contribute to efficiency in the program's operation if properly and appropriately used. The opposite of lazy loading is eager loading.
And one more thing:
Sometimes, there are plugins that cause your website to slow. There was a time where I can't figure out which causing my website to respond too slow.
P3 Plugin allows me to see which plugins are using it, and delete it if necessary.
There are a lot of plugins to use out there, but here are my top 10 plugins which I think the best of for beginners.
To begin speeding up your website, you can begin by checking your website issues in Google Page Insight.
How about you? what plugins are you using?
Share it in the comments if you have any, or question to ask me about.
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I blog about my discoveries and learnings with personal development, blogging, writing, public speaking, and publishing. I am a Jesus follower. Each month, I send out a newsletter with free tips on those topics.